The Leader of the Opposition and Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, Shaw Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, will propose a motion to the next meeting of Oldham Council (Wednesday 22 March) calling on the Council to withdraw from the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) and to instead develop a local plan for housing and commercial development in the Borough.
The motion is similar to those submitted by Liberal Democrat Councillors in Bury and Stockport.
Councillor Sykes explained: “This twenty year plan requires 13,700 new homes to be built and almost 700,000 square metres of land to be made available for new factories and warehouses in the Oldham Borough. Of the 13,700 new homes, almost a quarter – almost 3,000 – will be located in sites in Shaw and Crompton, this is in addition to other vast tracts of land that are designated for industrial development.”
“We believe this is madness. To Liberal Democrat Councillors representing Shaw and Crompton, this plan represents a massive and inequitable land grab in our area with the loss of our much-loved Green Belt and OPOL (Other Protected Open Land). Our constituents are up-in-arms about it, they have marched to save their Green Belt and they rightly expect their elected representatives to stand by them on this vital issue. We will not let them down; the Liberal Democrat Group intends to fight these proposals tooth and nail!”
“I know that Labour colleagues representing Royton and Chadderton are also upset at plans to devastate Green Belt in their areas so we hope that they will support this motion.”
Within the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework it is proposed that new properties will be built at Cowlishaw, in the Beal Valley, at Rushcroft, on the Whitfield Farm site across to Newhey and around Gravel Hole and Low Crompton.
Adjacent sites at Broadbent Moss (Oldham), Hanging Chadder (Oldham) and land East and West of the A627M (Rochdale and Oldham) if developed would also see a significant removal of the Green Belt land in the so called “Northern Gateway”.
Councillor Sykes added: “It is the view of the Liberal Democrat Group that there is no justification for the construction of a large number of properties (or indeed any properties) on Green Belt or OPOL land before new homes are first built on Brownfield sites, on sites where planning permission for housing development has already been granted and upon the many derelict and the unloved sites in our town centres and districts.”
“We also believe that every empty mill and factory should be converted and used for housing and that the large number of empty homes in our Borough should be brought back into use.”
“We are calling on Oldham Council to abandon their involvement with the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and to instead meet our legal obligations by creating a fifteen year local plan, which apportions housing and commercial development across the Borough rather than in a few areas; meet our local requirements rather than those of others; and which emphasises development on Brownfield sites first.”
The Liberal Democrats have also objected to the GMSF plans as they believe that Shaw and Crompton simply does not have the necessary infrastructure in place to meet the needs of the residents of 3,000 new homes.
Seconding the motion will be Crompton Councillor Dave Murphy. Commenting, Councillor Murphy said: “We have primary schools that are already overcrowded and full; a secondary school that is falling apart; a dilapidated Health Centre that is near cardiac arrest; no swimming facilities or dry leisure provision; precious few youth facilities and no municipal tip.”
“Under the proposals, 3,000 homes will be built in Shaw and Crompton for growing families. These new residents will need more primary and secondary school places; more GPs and dentists; leisure and shopping facilities; and new highways and more buses and trams to get them there.”
“Oldham Council’s decision to close and not replace the Crompton Pool and Gym now looks a little short-sighted given the number of new young residents that will need to learn to swim and the number of adults that will want to keep fit.”
“A local plan would not overload any one part of the Borough with excessive development. We can instead properly and fairly apportion new developments across the Borough and make our own plans to ensure the infrastructure needs of new residents are met in an effective and timely manner.”
A copy of the motion:
Council 22 March 2017 – Notice of Opposition Business
Motion 1 – Withdrawal from the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework
This Council notes that:
- all councils are required by government to have a Local Plan which identifies land for housing, offices and industry;
- the proposed Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) is one approach to fulfilling this requirement; however other local authorities have fulfilled this requirement by developing their own Local Plan;
- the GMSF is a twenty year plan, requiring a third more housing land to be identified than would be required by typical fifteen year Local Plans produced by many other local authorities, and is based upon pre-Brexit growth assumptions over such a long period, which cannot be verified;
- the GMSF proposals include significant releases of green-belt in the Borough of Oldham, particularly in Shaw, Crompton, Chadderton, Royton and Saddleworth;
Council further notes that:
- these early proposals were developed without sufficient involvement of residents or ward members;
- many residents and local politicians, particularly in Shaw, Crompton, Chadderton, Royton and Saddleworth, are strongly opposed to many of these proposals;
Council firmly believes that new housing development should first take place on brownfield or derelict sites, on sites with existing planning permission; and by converting long-term empty mills, shops and offices into homes; and that existing long-term empty homes should also be brought back into use, before any consideration is given to allocating green-belt or other protected open land for housing.
Consequently, Council condemns the current GMSF proposals as they fail to identify such sites that are available for development and are instead predicated upon developing new housing on green-belt land in the Borough of Oldham.
Council therefore resolves to:
- Formally withdraw from the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework process and make arrangements to ensure that the GMSF does not apply to the Borough of Oldham;
- Pursue Oldham’s own local plan. This should be a fifteen year Local Plan for the Borough which identifies that new housing development should first take place on brownfield or derelict sites, on sites with existing planning permission; and by converting long-term empty mills, shops and offices into homes; and that existing long-term empty homes should also be brought back into use, before any consideration is given to allocating green-belt or other protected open land for housing.
- Make arrangements to comply with the duty to cooperate with other planning authorities;
- Review existing development plan documents and build in a review process every five years.