Tameside’s planning dilemma -develop or stagnate say experts

 

Tameside faces a jobs versus stagnation conundrum, according to planning experts and councillors at a meeting to discuss the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework in Ashton last week.

The conference at the Village Hotel heard Rochdale Council Leader Richard Farnell speak of the “tough choices facing M60 towns.”

Paul Smith, managing director of Strategic Land Group and member of Housing the Powerhouse told the conference using data from independent planning specialists Barton Willmore, that Tameside currently faces a constrained land supply and an ageing population.

It is predicted the borough’s population over 65 will increase by 47% by 2035

Tameside’s available employment land supply is at its lowest for 15 years, and has only met local target housing supply twice in during the same period.

These challenges are typical of those affecting most M60 towns including Oldham, Rochdale and Bury.

If Tameside is to create new jobs and generate increased council tax revenues the major infrastructure targets will have to be met.

These include a station at Droylsden, motorway junction improvements, three health centres and three primary schools, this is before any mention of the proposed Mottram by -pass.

If these developments are met, the report reckons there will be 10,000 new jobs if the GMSF plans for the borough are implemented.

This will reduce the loss in working age population and add £40m additional council tax to council coffers anually.

The conference also highlighted the north south divide between the northern area of the conurbation and the southside.

This is in no small part due to the location of Manchester International Airport on the southern edge of the city region.

Manchester’s Airport is the third busiest in the country and the only commercial airport out side Heathrow with more than one runway, Trafford and Stockport as well as South Manchester benefit enormously from their geographical proximity to the airport but other boroughs need to find ways to take advantage of the airport’s success and expansion.

Rochdale was held up as an example of how the north-side areas can catch up with borough’s close to the airport, by specialising in particular industries or activities.

In the case of Rochadale it has embarked in massive warehouse and distiribution developments along the M62 Corridor.

Charles Smith, heritage advisor at Historic England pointed to the massive housing capacity potential in the 539  mills across Greater Manchester. They could provide up to 50 ,000 homes.

Converting the mills may go some way to providing instant solution to providing space for new housing as it has already done in the Longlands and Cavendish Mills in Stalybridge and Ashton.

Utilising mill space for housing would preserve the region’s rich industrial heritage and use up brownfield sites as opposed to green belt land.

 

However it is clear that if Greater Manchester is to become a European super city and keep up with rivals in the UK and Europe, it will will have to sacrifice at least some of its green belt for housing and infrastructure projects.

There is no other way to accommodate the 227,00 new homes and infrastructure needed to service them that is before the commercial and industrial developments to give that increased population employment are added

Paul Smith believes the ‘Framework could be even more ambitious: saying “Why settle for a Northern Powerhouse when we could be a European one”

The planned site for the Godley “Green” Village with over 2000 properties proposed, is favoured by Local MP Jonathan Reynolds, as the existing  railway station provides ready made transport infrastructure.

Clearly with green belt sites at Ashton Moss North Ashton, Woodley, Godley and Mottram at stake many residents will take an exception to that view.

Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds speaking on the future proposals including the proposed Godley “Green” Village in his constituency, thinks the Green Belt designation should undergo a review pointing out the last one was in 1984.

Mr Reynolds favours a planned big project approach rather than a piecemeal one which is why he is favour of the 2350 house Godley Village.

He states “You can look at how you can build new villages, instead of doing it in a piecemeal way.

“They then come with schools, shops, facilities  and the reason the Godley Green site in Hyde is of particular interest is it’s behind a train station – so it’s got an excellent public transport to offer.

“Of course crucially if you don’t come forward with a proper plan like this, it doesn’t mean things don’t get built – it means developers can take you to court and win the sites one at a time.

“There’s always pressure on MPs and councillors to say ‘no more houses’ but that’s not going to stop development. My constituency is 50pc green belt and for this Hyde proposal there is a specific bid into the government so we can get the money for it.

“We then get the power to reject what development we don’t want because we have met the housing need.

 ” We need new housing, so let’s do it on our own terms. It’s not realistic otherwise and there’s no point telling people it is,

Tameside Tory Councillor, Doreen Dickinson within whose ward the proposed Sidebottom Fold development falls is not convinced with the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework plans, she said: “In the past it was the developers that came to the councils, put forward their plans for the council to approve.

Currently it seems the other way round,  the developers and land owners saying, ‘this is what we want and this is what we need.”

Stalybridge Green Belt at risk under the GMFS proposals

“I also do not agree with the number of houses GMSF  proposes to be built.

“We keep being told there is a housing shortage and there is! of affordable housing, but so many of these housing developments within the Spatial Framework are executive homes that the average person, let alone young couple starting  out, cannot afford.

That will not address the housing problem.

The price of installing infrastructure at Sidebottom Fold will  mean  developers need to get their costs  back, that means high value homes beyond the reach of those most in need of affordable housing.

Sidebottom Fold Stalybridge Designated for 650 homes of “high quality” 

The 650 proposed houses, plus the infrastructure will transform the character of that part of Stalybridge which still has independent villages and deprive residents of Stalybridge access to open country.

It will create an urban jungle from the town centre to Mottram Rise.”