Tonight I have had the pleasure of joining residents at a very well-attended meeting organised by the ‘Save Bamford Greenbelt Group’ which is coordinating opposition to proposals to build 450 executive homes on greenbelt land off Norden Road in Bamford.
It was pleasing that so many people turned out, even on a night when snow was forecast, to demonstrate the strength of opposition to the proposals put forward by Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, in the second draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework. Bamford Chapel was filled to capacity with local people from Bamford, Norden and other areas.
Members of the action group outlined the revised proposal and gave an overview of the work that they have been doing and the direction that the opposition campaign will take in the coming weeks.
Numerous residents spoke about their concerns with the development proposals. Issues included the destruction of the greenbelt, increased pressure on local services, insufficient capacity in the road and transport networks and a utilities network which could not withstand the increase in demand that 450 new large-scale homes would bring.
As a Councillor for the adjoining ward of Norden and the Shadow Portfolio Holder for the Environment I was grateful for an opportunity to address attendees.
People wanted to know who had come up with the site proposals and were naturally shocked when I explained that this had been agreed in consultation with only one group of people – the developers. No consultation was held with landowners, residents or people with other vested interests in the proposed sites. Two landowners expressed their utter disgust at the fact that their family farms had been included in the plans without them having been consulted; neither have any interest in selling their land, but compulsary purchase may become a reality if developers get their way.
I explained that this framework proposal had been drafted at a Greater Manchester level, approved only by Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham and the leaders of the ten local authorities that make up the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). At this stage, no approval for the draft plan has been sought from the full body of elected members on Rochdale Council.
The mood of the room was summed up when the GMSF was described as “The greatest act of civic vandalism that Greater Manchester will ever be subjected to.”
One speaker said of Andy Burnham’s revised plan: “This is not a consultation, he has ignored our objection. The reduction from 750 to 450 homes is a lot of smoke and mirrors and the nett difference is negligible.”
Naturally, local Conservative Councillors will continue to do all that we can to oppose the plans and work with the campaign group and local residents to ensure that this area of greenbelt is protected. But we cannot do it alone. We need the help of every member of the public to ensure that the message gets through, that this development is not appropriate, not practical and not welcome in our greenbelt.
So now it’s over to you. You can respond to the GMSF consultation online at: https://tinyurl.com/gmconsult. You can also comment by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by writing to: Planning Team Consultation, GMCA, Churchgate House, 56 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 6EU. It doesn’t matter how you comment, it’s just important that you do.