Hundreds of residents took part in a ‘Save our Greenbelt’ protest walk in Hyde on Sunday.
Organised by Save Tameside Greenbelt in conjunction with other groups across Greater Manchester, around 200 locals of all ages marched from Hattersley roundabout, down Mottram Road, Green Lane and Stockport Road through Gee Cross to the Joshua Bradley pub.
They were demonstrating their opposition to plans in the revised Greater Manchester Spatial Framework to build 2,350 homes in the Godley Green ‘garden village’ proposal, plus a combined 440 homes on sites at Apethorn Lane and Bowlacre Lane.
Charlotte Castro of Save Tameside Greenbelt said: “The greenbelt march in Tameside on Sunday has shown that the commitment and resolve of local residents, and residents across the boundary in Stockport and Glossop, to call for radical changes to the GMSF plans remains unaltered.
“We want to see a renewed focus on redeveloping the town centres and using brownfield sites first, with affordable non-executive houses built as a priority for local people.
“Greenbelt should only be looked at once all brownfield sites are redeveloped and a measured reassessment of housing need completed at that time. A decision cannot be taken now that we need to build upon greenbelt when the figures for housing need – used to calculate the GMSF demand – remain under scrutiny, under questioning by MPs and their validity called into question in Westminster at the highest level.
Under the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, Tameside has been set a target of building an average of 466 homes a year over the next 20 years – the lowest target of Greater Manchester’s ten boroughs.
Save Tameside Greenbelt have put forward a number of brownfield sites, such as the former ABC Waxworks site, which they say should be developed before any rural land is built on.
But the Godley Green development has been backed by Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds and Tameside Council Executive Leader, Cllr Brenda Warrington.
Jonathan Reynolds MP said: “The latest proposals for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework reduce greenbelt loss considerably, and remove some inappropriate sites for housing, which is good news. It is still right that as a city region we have a strategic housing plan, though – if we don’t we simply hand power over to developers.
“There’s no disputing the need for more housing, but we must get it right, we a mix of housing types -including affordable homes and new social housing- and supporting infrastructure. Residents have until 18th March to have their say via the consultation and I would encourage anyone to have their say.”
Speaking when the revised Greater Manchester Spatial Framework was released in January, Cllr Warrington told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “What is more important is people want to live in Tameside, people want to work in Tameside and we have 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.”
The local Conservative group is against the plans. Cllr Phil Chadwick helped lead the parade alongside other greenbelt campaign groups.
The Conservative councillor for Hyde Werneth said: “Regardless of everyone’s political affiliation, those who are in favour of saving the greenbelt and within the Save Tameside Group (who are apolitical), are ALL united in saving the greenbelt from destruction.
“Not only does it prevent urban sprawl into our semi-rural area, but the health benefits the greenbelt brings are irreplaceable. Once you concrete over it, it is lost forever.”
Prospective Conservative candidate for Hyde Godley Andrea Colbourne also joined the march. “We’ve been supporting Save Tameside Greenbelt from the start,” she said.
“We just haven’t got the infrastructure to cope with the number of houses they want to build on Godley Green.
“Residents struggle to get a doctor’s appointment already and just last week, parents were left disappointed when their children didn’t get into their first-choice school.
“The additional traffic would also be a problem and with that comes an increase in pollution. The council are trying to make people aware of pollution but at the same time are trying to take away this big green lung in Godley.
“I really hope people’s concerns are listened to and they get a chance to explain their concerns.”
The public consultation on the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework closes on March 18. You can take part by visiting www.gmconsult.org/communications-and-engagement-team/gmsf/consultation.
Pictures courtesy of the Save Tameside Greenbelt Facebook page.