The Leader of the Opposition and the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, has written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire MP, to ask him whether it would in fact be permissible for the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester to use the lower figures for expected household growth published in 2016 to decide on the number of homes to be built in the conurbation under the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.
Thousands of these new homes would be built on Green Belt sites in Crompton, Shaw, Royton and Chadderton.
Figures published by Mr Brokenshire’s own department in 2012 indicated that households in Greater Manchester would increase by 213,380 by 2035, or 18.75%, yet by contrast the more recent figures issued by the Office for National Statistics in 2016 offered a projection that the rise would only be 164,006, or 14.55%. Amongst the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester, only Rochdale has a revised higher figure.
Councillor Sykes added: “Despite a massive difference of almost 50,000 households not requiring properties, the Conservative Government has continued to insist that the original figure stands, regardless of the adverse impact on our irreplaceable green belt. I have asked the Minister to confirm whether he is still of this view. If we could adopt the lower figure we could save much of the Green Belt.”
For Oldham, there is an expected increase of 14,955 households, or 16.55%, predicted in the figure published in 2012, but only 12,368, or 13.81%, in the 2016 projections.
Councillor Sykes concluded: “That’s a difference of 2,587 properties less to build. Interesting that corresponds to almost all of the houses that the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework proposes be built by 2035 within Oldham on the Kingsway South, Beal Valley, Broadbent Moss, Cowlishaw and Hanging Chadder sites. And if we were to increase the housing density on allocated brownfield sites in the town centre I am confident that we could make up the difference and save the Thornham Old Road site, and some others in the Borough too.”
Councillor Sykes concluded: “The Liberal Democrats in Shaw, Crompton and Saddleworth remain completely opposed to any encroachment of housing on Greenbelt and OPOL sites whilst brownfield sites remain available, but the Conservative Government has previously insisted that Greater Manchester Councils build more homes under the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework than the latest household growth figures indicate are required.”
The letter to James Brokenshire: James Brokenshire MP GMSF 19.02.19