A Breath of Fresh Air is Important

The need to get away from choked-up roads when we can is vital to protect our health and those of our families.

If there was ever the need to prove why local Greenbelt must be protected, then here it is.

Air Quality in Greater Manchester

But is the solution to introduce charging zones for traffic? 

Take a look at the Greater Manchester Clean Air Campaign  . The trouble with this is that it doesn’t include motorways.

GMSF: Its Andy Burnham v Local Councils

For anyone who thought that the threat to Greenbelt locally and across GM had gone away, here’s proof that local Councils continue to want to use more of it.

This article    
Manchester Evening News.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/greater-manchester-spatial-framework
published 19 September 2018 may come as a surprise to many.

Following delays in publishing this draft of the GMSF, residents across GM were expecting to see it by November this year.

Does the apparent disagreements between Mayor Andy Burnham and the ten local Councils cast doubt on this date?

Following Andy Burnham’s appointment as GM Mayor, he told local councils to go back to the drawing board as he wanted to see a major rewrite of the GMSF. Many believe this was mainly because he recognised that opposition to it by GM residents was substantial and couldn’t be ignored.

Along side this, Rochdale Council have just published their Draft Site Allocations Plan (September 2018). This shows were they want local developments to be placed in the Borough with the vast majority being on brownfield sites and Town centres.

The MEN article specifically mentions Bury, Rochdale & Oldham as wanting to see a re-balancing of investment & development in GM towards these areas.

Whilst we cannot deny that homes & employment opportunities are needed, we strongly believe that building on Greenbelt is wholly wrong as it aims:

  • To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas
  • To prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another
  • To assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
  • To preserve the setting and special character of historic towns
  • To assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

The stated opportunities and benefits of Greenbelt include:

  • Providing opportunities for access to the open countryside for the urban population
  • Providing opportunities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation near urban areas
  • The retention of attractive landscapes and the enhancement of landscapes, near to where people live
  • Improvement of damaged and derelict land around towns
  • The securing of nature conservation interests
  • The retention of land in agricultural, forestry and related uses.

Whitegates Road – Toucan Crossing

The Monday evening’s meeting at Middleton Library of around twenty local residents, two RBC Highways Officials and three local Councillors was a fiery affair.

The meeting was a face-to-face discussion on proposals to place a Toucan crossing [for pedestrians & cyclists] close to Whitegates Road in Slattocks  where it joins the A664 Rochdale Road. 

Detailed drawings of the proposed crossing and new consolidated bus stop were presented at the meeting and a reasoned account of for them were given by Chris Woods for RBC Highways.

Funding for the whole project will be provided by Transport For Greater Manchester [TfGM]. The crossing aspect is part is GM’s cycle network project to encourage people to use non-car-based methods of transport for both leisure and work journeys.

The proposals are seen as flawed by local residents.

Residents had initially received notice by letter in June [2018] and many have sent in written comments, mainly in opposition to the plans as they stand. They were also informed that there was no actual need for them to be consulted according to legislation. 

Everyone agreed that safety should be high on the agenda and with the need to find ways to reduce car journeys. But residents directly affected continue to reject many aspects of the scheme.

During the course of discussions, residents suggested a couple of alternatives for the placement of the crossing but these seemed to be ignored by Mr Widdop. 

Towards the end of the meeting he also said that the bus stop amalgamation was part of a general move to reduce and upgrade the numbers of stops. However, residents did not feel they had been given a reasoned and full explanation as to why this was happening.

Residents were also left feeling particularly disappointed that their local elected Councillors were not supporting them and saw the plan, overall, as a good thing.  Both the RBC officials and local Councillors appeared blinkered to  residents arguments nor did they seem to appreciate them. 

Following much questioning and suggestions by residents, Mark Widdop said he would again write to them and also look at further written representations. 

When pressed by one resident, he also agreed to directly reply to the points in her recent letter of 19 August 2018.

Replying to another question, Mark further stated that project funding would need to be used by March 2019 but that there may be some flexibility with this timescale.

Future Local Land Use

With the recent publication by Rochdale Council of a Draft Site Allocations Plan [Sept 2108], we can see the direct effect on our Neighbourhood Area.

In terms of our Neighbourhood Plan Area there are only three proposals which directly affect the local community:

  • AL/HOU/76 Land between the Norton Grange Hotel and Saxonholme Road
    Whilst 14 houses are proposed here, planning permission has not been granted. This piece of land is regarded by RBC as a ‘brownfield site’
  • AL/EMP/11  Stakehill Ind Estate – Finlan Road 
    This site within the Estate has always been a green space where wildlife is evident
  • AL/EMP/25 Stakehill Ind Estate – Touchet Hall Road
    Known as ‘Lowfields’, this is the former Sainsbury’s distribution depot. It has been vacant for over 10 years. A recent so-called ‘scoping’ application by Virador for use as a recycling plant was not pursued.

The Forum will be submitting comments on the sites listed above plus other proposals for Castleton & Middleton, and on the Draft Site Allocation Plan as a whole.

If you have any comments on the RBC Draft Site Allocation Plan and would like the Forum to include them in its submission, please email info@tsjnf.org