The revised Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) is out now and it lays down a serious threat to the greenbelt in our area. Created by the Labour leaders of the ten local authorities in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Labour Manchester Mayor, this plan proposes to give the green light to developers who want to build hugely profitable housing and commercial developments in our precious greenbelt. The plan puts many areas of greenbelt under threat, right across our city and borough.
Here in Norden, the most controversial proposal is one to build 450 luxury, executive homes off Norden Road in Bamford. The original GMSF proposed 750 homes on the site and met with massive opposition from local residents. A community action group was established with the support of Conservative Ward Councillors, protest walks were held and hundreds of people joined forces to oppose the plans.
Unfortunately, Labour have just not listened, instead, they have patronised the opposition efforts by returning with a plan that still proposes to build 450 homes in the greenbelt.
Do they really believe that this change will satisfy people? Are we now supposed to be happy at the prospect of 450 homes in the greenbelt? Are we supposed to be thankful that we will only have an additional c.900 vehicles commuting along Norden Road causing more congestion and longer queues? Are we supposed to be pleased that our doctors’ surgeries, dentists, schools and other local services are going to be overloaded with new residents?
Nothing I have seen in the plan points out how this large increase in population will be catered for. I can see no realistic proposals to provide the infrastructure that will be needed to serve the thousands of people who will reside in these new homes and the hundreds of vehicles that they will have.
The construction process alone could bring years of disruption to one of the main commuter routes in and out of our area – a route which people have no option but to use.
Aside from the numerous practical problems of this proposed development, there is also the issue of our greenbelt being destroyed forever. The plan suggests that if this greenbelt is used some more could be allocated elsewhere. The suggestion, Queen’s Park in Heywood! Seriously, how stupid do Labour think people are?
We have said it for years, you can’t trust Labour with the greenbelt and the new GMSF just proves the point. Yes, they will say that it is government legislation to blame. But let’s be realistic, government legislates for the whole country, for hundreds of constituencies and thousands of local wards all with very different circumstances and needs. The onus is on our local authority to apply that legislation in the best interests of our area. Unfortunately, I am afraid that the Rochdale Labour group seem to be more interested in building big homes and collecting top rate council tax than protecting our green spaces.
So once again, it falls to us to pick up the placards and carry on the fight to save our greenbelt from the diggers. Residents can be assured that Conservative Ward Councillors are united with local people in our objection to the plans, but we need every person who cares to join the opposition too because Labour’s threat to the greenbelt is looming large in Rochdale.