The 2016 proposal saw the north of the borough taking the strain of greenbelt development and lead to a significant overdevelopment. Under the proposals important greenbelt land which provides an important buffer between towns would have been removed, particularly between Royton and Rochdale and Royton and Oldham (towards St James’).
There is little doubt that there were strong views on the GM Spatial Framework, evidenced by over 27,000 submissions across the city region. As the plan prepares the foundation for development to 2037 it is vital it is done right, and that it meets the ambition for residents in Greater Manchester; it’s vital they not only have a voice but feel a positive part of the future.
There were significant issues with the evidence base for employment and housing land and the projections which then followed. I remain concerned about the targets central government have placed on Greater Manchester. I do not see how these housing targets reflect the uncertainty caused by Brexit or the governments immigration white paper which proposes a skills-based immigration system, both of which have the potential to impact on the economy and demand, and potentially on population; both in numbers and housing need.
It is important to say from the outset that this is not within the gift of Greater Manchester councils or the Mayor, although they do have to plan on the housing targets given to them by central government.
Oldham Council has acted on calls to revise the Brownfield list of sites and that has been published on its website.
One area which should be looked at more is the need for urban renewal to address the poor standard of housing in Oldham town. With the cancellation of Housing Market Renewal there is a gap which needs action. With many home-ownership is an important option, and some social housing is planned, but the fact remains that for many the only housing choice they have is low quality, but more expensive, privately rented accommodation in areas with high tenancy turnover and poor environmental standards.
In my original submission to the 2016 proposals I challenged both the underlying case for the land requirement stated, and the particular sites being proposed in Oldham West & Royton.
The key points to the 2016 proposals were;
1. I recognise the need for and support the development of the GMSF (Greater Manchester Strategic Framework), to provide long term planning on housing, employment, transport and public service infrastructure across Greater Manchester. As the city region receives further devolved powers from government this will become even more important
2. The evidence base for housing growth supports an aggressive growth strategy which the GMCA (Greater Manchester Combined Authority) may feel is desirable, but is not essential to meet housing demand and is unlikely to deliver balanced growth
3. The evidence base adopted to inform growth isn’t robust, nor does it provide an accurate forecast of likely growth in population and housing numbers.
4. Oldham meets its assessed housing supply needs in line with DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) projections without the need to develop Greenbelt land, or other protected open space
5. The proposals represent a significant overdevelopment of the north of the borough of Oldham which will damage the character of many neighbourhoods
6. There is an absence of meaningful proposals to redevelop Brownfield sites and to redevelop existing neighbourhoods and employment sites
7. Oldham and Rochdale are already providing a ‘fair share’ of industrial land for Greater Manchester
8. That the plan should be subject to a vote by each council (Full Council) prior to a vote taking place by the members of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and before submission to the Secretary of State
You can read my original submission here
https://jimmcmahoncouk.wordpress.com/gm-spatial-framework/ this also contains site by site submissions.
Revised 2019 proposals
I have provided a summary of the previous 2016 proposals and the current plan which relate to the Oldham West and Royton constituency.
Of the sites within and straddling Oldham West & Royton and which contain development, there is an increase of 457 in the number of units proposed within Greenbelt or currently protected sites. It is difficult to separate out some of the larger sites at Beal Valley and Broadbent Moss because ward by ward information hasn’t been provided, and so I have included the published total for the site as a whole and responded on that basis.
1). Northern Gateway 2
• 2016 – 500 units / 2019 – 854 units / Variation + 354 units
Significant changes have been made to the land at Tandle Hill. Employment land will remain and will be concentrated as an extension to Stake Hill Industrial Estate with the M627 motorway acting as a buffer, this is a welcomed change from the original proposal which would have straddled the motorway with development towards Tandle Hill in Royton, and south towards North Chadderton.
The greenbelt land from the M627 to Tandle Hill will remain with the exception of a section around Thornham Old Road moving to Rochdale Road and Tandle Hill Road. Although this potentially minimises the impact on the country park it will be overbearing for those properties immediately affected and overall see an increase in the number of homes built.
I cannot see how those objecting to the original proposal will be happy with these changes which remove greenbelt, increases the number of homes planned and moves development closer to existing properties.
2). Beal Valley and Broadbent Moss
• 2016 – 900 units / 2019 – 531 units / Variation – 369 units
• 2016 – 1,000 units / 2019 – 1,420 units / Variation + 420 units
Taking both Beal Valley and Broadbent Moss together, as they together fill in the greenbelt separating Royton and Oldham along the tram line, this represents a significant development which increases overall housing numbers by 51 homes to 1,951. The inclusion of a new Metrolink station will be welcomed but this cannot be seen to compensate the loss of such a large section of the greenbelt with the towns of Oldham and Royton joined to create a continuous urban form which substantially changes the nature of the area.
The points I raised in the original consultation therefore stand, and it is disappointing that an effort has not been made, at the very least, to keep the view from Bullcote Park across the valley clear.
Although I accept the limitations of what sites can be achieved it is also disappointing that existing low quality industrial land is not identified for redevelopment to residential.
4). Hanging Chadder
• 2016 – 600 units / 2019 – 274 units / Variation – 272 units
The original proposal was for 600 new homes and the amended proposal reducing that to 274 units.
Of the 23 Hectares around 8 Hectares is assessed to be developable with the remainder removed as greenbelt but with some protection as green infrastructure. The revised 8 hectares is slightly smaller than the original site proposed in 2015/16 Call for Sites process which offered 9 hectares.
It is clear from the amendments made that some effort has been made to reduce the impact of the development, and to provide a green buffer, although much of this reflects physical limitations of the site reducing what can be developed.
Residents immediately effected will remained concerned about the loss of open space.
6). Ashton Road Corridor (NEW)
• 2016 – 0 units / 2019 – 324 units / Variation + 324 units
New sites are proposed at Rosary Road and Ashton Road at the former landfill site at the section along Ashton Road and the hollow/dip near Park Road at the Ashton boundary up to Bardsley Vale Avenue.
Residents in the Bardsley area have expressed strong objection to recent development of open space in the area around Levington Drive. Because these are new proposals a proactive effort should be made to consult residents in the area to raise awareness and seek their views.
I have included Cowlishaw because although the bulk of the development proposed sits outside the constituency it has been raised by constituents previously.
The proposal put forward in 2016 significantly increased the site allocation and although some work has been done to reduce the number of units proposed from 640 to 460 this is primarily a result of a more detailed assessment of what is possible with the limitations of the site.
Finally, it took a lot of time to compare the new proposals fully against the original plan because no ‘before and after’ comparison was provided, some reference numbers have since changed, and the MappingGM facility which contains all previously proposed sites has not been updated with the new site boundaries or information on hectares. It was also difficult to compare sites which straddle borough boundaries as information on site size, employment floorspace and housing numbers were not separated in the main document and so it meant checking against a number of other documents.
Many of my original concerns remain and I’ll make a submission to the consultation. As always it helps to receive submissions particularly those with evidence and new information.
Consultation on these proposals is due to start in the coming weeks and I urge residents to have their say on how these plans affect their community.
You can read the current documents at https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/news/greater-manchester-leaders-reveal-bold-plans-for-city-region-s-future/