Save the Green Belt

  • 3,700 homes would be built on Stockport’s green belt
  • inflated out-of-date estimate of Greater Manchester’s housing need
  • more pressure on roads
  • A6-M60 Bypass included, to be progressed post-2025

Stockport councillors will hold a crucial vote in the coming months on whether to build on greenbelt in Offerton, Romiley, Woodley, High Lane, Heald Green and Woodford as proposed in Greater Manchester’s Spatial framework.  

A public consultation on the Spatial Framework ended on 18th March 2019. The next stages are: the Greater Manchester Authority will consider the public’s comments and produce  a new version of the Spatial Framework. In September there will be a final round of consultation on the proposals.

There are sites for 170,000-plus new homes in Greater Manchester without touching green belt. Proposals in the Spatial framework to build on green belt have been reduced since an outcry over the first draft in 2016 – but some very large developments remain in Greater Manchester. In Stockport borough, 3,700 homes would be built on green belt over the next 19 years.

The “allocations” in Stockport

34. Woodley: Bredbury Park Industrial Estate extension. 

The proposed extension of the Bredbury Park industrial estate almost to the banks of the River Tame flouts the generally accepted need to protect river valleys from development (restated by the GMSF itself on page 135!).

Extending the industrial estate down the slope to the Tame would massively dominate the river and Hulme’s Wood and Haughton Dale nature reserves on the other side.

Woodley and Bredbury already have an excessive and unfair share of industrial sites, heavy traffic and congested motorway. Extending the industrial estate will:

  • Destroy the peace and beauty of the Tame Valley.
  • Pollute the valley’s air and water.
  • Wreck wildlife habitats
  • Bring yet more traffic into the area.

Extra traffic will be fed towards the illegally polluted Stockport Road West.

Local MPs William Wragg and Andrew Gwynne say the extra industrial units of the extended industrial estate won’t be needed – the Spatial Framework has an excess of commercial sites. Both MPs oppose the extension of the industrial estate.

spatial framework bredbury industrial

35. Offerton 250 homes next to Castle Hill High School

Green belt next to the Poise Brook Valley Nature Reserve will lose protection. Two hundred and fifty homes and a new school are proposed for a site on the edge of Offerton, within the Goyt Valley Landscape Character Area.

The main existing building here is Castle Hill High School which has a fine field to the east. Lisburne School will relocate into the site, perhaps on the Castle Hill field.  Other building would also be possible on the field.

Stockport Council says the 250 new homes will be to the west of Castle Hill School, where some existing structures will be demolished. The new homes will inevitably create extra traffic on badly congested Marple Road. The only public transport is buses.

Traffic from new homes will clog the access roads, The Fairway and Curzon Road. Fairway already carries traffic to two schools. Traffic for Lisburne School would be manageable if not accompanied by traffic from the new homes.

Loss of green belt protection for the east of the site threatens the peace of the adjoining nature reserves and Poise Brook Valley.

spatial framework offerton

36. Woodley 250 of homes at Gravel Bank Road/Unity Mill.

Like the proposed extension of the Bredbury Park industrial estate, this proposal brings development into the heart of the Tame Valley. Two hundred and fifty homes are proposed, split between a restoration and conversion of Unity Mill and new building on an adjacent site next to the Peak Forest Canal which, at this point, runs parallel to the Tame.

The ruined Unity Mill is a focus of anti-social activity and needs to be restored. The building of new homes is inappropriate to the river valley and will generate traffic adding to congestion and illegal pollution further into Stockport.


spatial framework unity mill woodley

37. Heald Green 850 homes (down from 2,000 previously) and 40. Stanley Green 850 homes (down from 3,700).

The new version of the Spatial Framework earmarks sites for 850 homes in Heald Green and 850 in Stanley Green nearby. Separately Cheshire East Council is planning 1,700 homes in a “Handforth Garden Village” on the other side of the A555, outside the Spatial Framework area.

So much green belt will be lost that the character of the area will change fundamentally. The threatened greenbelt acts as a buffer against noise and pollution from the A555 and A34.

There’s talk of a new railway station at Stanley Green and a “rapid transit” bus route. But it is clear that these three sites would add to the overloaded state of Stockport’s roads, leading to demands for yet more new roads (such as the greenbelt-destroying A6-M60 Bypass). The A34 is already illegally polluted.

spatial framework heald green

spatial framework stanley green

38. High Lane 500 homes (down from 4,000).

A proposal for 500 new homes is split either side of High Lane/A6 to the west of the Windlehurst Lane junction. High Lane is already heavily congested. The new homes would be near to a section of the A6 that breaks legal limits for air pollution. Air pollution was measured BEFORE the A6 received extra traffic from the opening of the Airport Road A555 last autumn. The proposal indicates that Stockport and Greater Manchester Councils have no serious interest to reduc dangerous levels of pollution.

spatial framework high lane

39. Romiley 250 homes on Hyde Bank Meadows.

The site consists of two fields of pasture called Hyde Bank Meadows and a much-appreciated public park Tangshutt Fields. The 250 homes could be built throughout this site. According to SMBC, the three football pitches currently on Tangshutt Fields would have to remain on the site, but not necessarily where they are now – so the park could be entirely vaporized. Conceivably, the pitches could become all-weather (non-grass).

The whole site is in the Goyt Valley Landscape Character Area and 220 metres from the Goyt (at the nearest point), so it should remain green belt! The development would harm the Tangshutt Local Nature Reserve immediately to the west. The new homes would generate excessive traffic down Gotherage Lane to Compstall Road, which already has congestion problems. Compstall Road is a continuation of Bent’s Lane, which seizes up during the morning peak. Local MP William Wragg has started an online petition to protect Hyde Bank Meadows and Tangshutt Fields.

spatial framework romiley 2

41. Woodford Aerodrome 750 homes (reduced from 2,400).

A proposal for 750 new homes at the former Woodford Aerodrome adds to the 1,000 homes already built on the former aerodrome as “Woodford Garden Village”. Green belt protection has already been lifted from part of the former aerodrome over the border in Cheshire East, which is being held in reserve for future development.

spatial framework woodford


44 “South of Hyde” 440 new homes just over the Stockport border in Tameside

Fine fields either side of A560 Stockport Road  would be lost in Gee Cross. The fields are excellent wildlife habitat. As a result, very little green space will be left between Woodley and Gee Cross. Green belt was intended to prevent such “urban sprawl”. The new homes will send traffic down the congested A560 to the illegally polluted Stockport Road West, Bredbury.

GMSF Apethorne

The A6-M60 Bypass is included on the map of Stockport developments, page 302 (below) and referred to on page 190, Highway Infrastructure Developments Policy GM-C 6. It’s covered by Question 124 on Stockport transport strategy (at the end of the Stockport questions).

The proposed greenbelt-destroying A6-M60 Bypass is included in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.  It is presented as a potential development beyond 2025. That is the year when the Government’s next five-year road-funding allocations will start. Greater Manchester council leaders have set a target of no more growth in road traffic. That will be impossible to achieve if new roads are built and road space expanded. The A6-M60 Bypass is referred to on page 190 of the Spatial Framework under Highway Infrastructure Developments Policy GM-C 6. It is also shown on the map of proposed Stockport developments on page 302. In the consultation, comment on “10 A connected Greater Manchester”.

spatial framework a6-m60

The numbers game

It is estimated that the latest version of the Spatial Framework has halved the greenbelt land take throughout Greater Manchester proposed by the first version in 2016. As well as a reduction in green belt building, there is a reduction in total homes proposed on all sites, from 227,000 in 2016 to 201,000. This reflects a modest reduction in the estimated extra homes needed for Greater Manchester up until 2037 – but the figures are out of date! If the latest official figures were used, estimated extra housing need would be only 145,000 with no loss of green belt.

In a chaotic argument over the numbers, the Government have denied that they are imposing the out-of-date target of 201,000 homes. However, this denial is contradicted by information coming from the Government’s own housing officials. They have even financially penalised Greater Manchester for aiming for 201,000 homes rather than a higher figure! While Mayor Andy Burnham says he would have liked a lower figure with less building on green belt, many leaders of Greater Manchester’s boroughs seem to favour the 201,000 figure in any case.

To achieve some of the numbers, the latest version of the Spatial Framework has an increased emphasis on high-density building on brownfield sites, particularly in Manchester but also in Stockport. A new “mayoral development corporation” will develop 3,000 homes in apartments in the west of Stockport town centre. Another 5,000 homes (needed by Stockport according to the out-of-date figures) have been offloaded on to other boroughs and the City of Manchester.
In Stockport in 2016, 12,000 homes were proposed for green belt. This number has now been reduced by two-thirds – balanced by a big increase in identified brownfield sites. Why weren’t those sites identified in 2016? The first version of Spatial Framework was a car crash. Should we have more trust this time around?