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Green belt campaigners will fight garden village plans
Friday 11th January 2019 @ 14:01 by Lauren Entwistle
Tameside

By Charlotte Green, local democracy reporter.

Campaigners continue to oppose the creation of two new ‘garden villages’ in Tameside under the borough’s revised 20-year plan for homes and jobs – despite welcoming the reduction in the loss of the green belt.

Under bosses’ new strategic allocation, around 2,790 homes and 175,000 sqm of employment space would be built on land designated as green belt.

Members of a local protest group, Save Tameside Green Belt, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service they were still ‘deeply concerned’ about the controversial garden villages.

Under the new draft, there would be less building on green belt land – a 50pc reduction across the region.

A slice of green belt that had been under threat in 2016, Sidebottom Fold in Stalybridge, has been removed from the framework, scrapping plans for 650 homes on the site.

However the Godley Green garden village proposal, which has been backed by MP Jonathan Reynolds, remains unaltered with 2,350 dwellings.

And the latest intention is to create a new garden village in the same vein as Godley Green spanning two areas of land near Woodley in Hyde, with 440 homes.

Charlotte Castro, speaking on behalf of the group that campaigned against the Tameside allocations in the 2016 draft plan, said they still believed development on brownfield land should – and could – be prioritised.

“Whilst Save Tameside wholeheartedly welcomes the removal of some green belt allocations in the new GMSF 2019 consultation and the new allocation of additional areas as designated green belt, we are deeply concerned about the two proposed garden villages to be positioned within Hyde on large areas of protected green belt,” she said.

“Infrastructure should be in place for schools, doctors and alleviation of traffic and pollution before any such sizeable plan should be even considered and there should be a policy as promised of developing all brownfield sites first before considering any green belt applications.

“ABC Wax and the old Christy Towels site are just two examples of undeveloped sites in Hyde close to amenities and transport links where affordable housing should be put first.

“Local people should have the right to see their town centres redeveloped first with affordable accessible housing.”

She added that they continue to query the published figures of how many homes are predicted to be needed in Tameside in the coming decades.

The long-awaited revised draft of the spatial framework would see around 8,850 homes built across the borough between now and 2037.

This is a significant reduction from the initial 2016 blueprint, which had envisioned 13,600 new dwellings.

Claire Elliott, also from the green belt campaign group, said that they welcomed the news of numerous sites being removed from the spatial framework.

But she added: “We totally condemn the fact that Godley Green, Apethorn and Bowlacre are still included.

“The recent ONS figures have been ignored just to push this sort of development through.

“There is a need for new housing but not to the detriment of our greenbelt and it should be a strictly brownfield first approach.

“These areas included are popular with walkers, bike riders, horse riders and families, not to mention the wildlife that resides there too.

“They are an asset to Hyde, which no amount of money can replace. To also reclassify new parts of Tameside as greenbelt is just a kick in the teeth as seemingly its not worth the paper it’s written on.”

Ms Elliott added: “We will continue to fight these plans and know many are behind us.

“Green belts were brought in for a reason and I think it’s more relevant now that it ever was.”

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said that the revised framework starts from the ‘right place’ and urged people to ‘get behind it’ – ‘if you like the package as a whole.’

Speaking after the plan was unveiled, Council leader Brenda Warrington said: “What is more important is people want to live in Tameside, people want to work in Tameside and we have to provide the means for them to do that.

“Godley Green is a really exciting prospect for the future where we hope to create a brand new settlement for people that we can actually design to ensure that we fulfil all of those needs from the different parts of the community.”