Anger after house builders seek home sales for greenbelt development

ANGRY ‘Save Our Greenbelt’ protestors have hit out after receiving letters from house builders asking them to sell their homes.

Residents, who attended Save Royton Greenbelt’s protest at Thornham St James’ School, also warned May’s local elections could provide shocks if politicians do not back their campaign.

About 200 people turned out to protest against the latest proposals published in the revised draft of Greater Manchester’s Plan for homes, jobs and the environment (GMSF).

Prior to the meeting, Redrow Homes’ Head of Planning Robin Buckley sent letters asking people to consider “selling your home.”

The letter, seen by the Correspondent, also says: “I would be pleased to discuss with you how Redrow could assist you to achieve a premium on its current market value.

“Your property is one of a number along Thornham Old Road which could potentially provide an access to part of the draft allocation.”

Gillian Hindle is one of the recipients of the letter dated January 21 – just a week after official consultation opened.

Speaking at the drop-in Gillian said: “I am not sure how transparent the process is.

“Why do we have letters from Redrow Homes offering to buy our house? Have these deals already been done? Is it really a process of transparency?

“I emailed Sean Fielding (OMBC leader) asked him why I had had this letter and had no response.

“I emailed Andy Burnham (GM Mayor) twice and nothing other than an automated response.

“That is really upsetting because if it had been at the side of their homes they would have expected someone to have the courtesy of responding to them.

“Someone has got to consider what we are saying. There is always compromise.

“We are not unreasonable people but everybody has got to take their fair share across the borough.

“Why has Royton and Shaw taken such a hit? Why are they not hitting Saddleworth? Is it because there are a lot more influential people in Saddleworth who have been fighting the school and winning on that?

“I have lived here all my life people’s thoughts have been disregarded.”

Sean and Angela Heneghan also attended the drop-in session on Thursday, February 7.

“The biggest challenge is the sheer volume of houses that are being proposed for a very small area with no additional infrastructure,” said Mr Heneghan.

“No other schools, no other hospitals, no other health centres yet they are proposing a total of about 1,300 or 1,400 properties.

“There is plenty of brownfield in north Manchester where there have been plenty of mills for years that needed knocking down.

“Are they building round here because it is cheaper to build on greenfield than it is to on brownfield?

“I haven’t seen my local councillor in four years,” he added.

“So they need to be a lot more dynamic about representing their local constituencies otherwise come May I think there will be some shocks.”

Angela added: “I don’t believe the housing that will be built on greenbelt will be social housing.

“If you are building behind Tandle Hill Road are you going to put in affordable, social housing behind a £500,000 house?

“The whole mix hasn’t been discussed and we are being railroaded.”

The couple also complained about a lack of prior notification for the OMBC organised drop-in session.

Denise Beasley from Thorp was one of two residents interviewed by Granada Reports on the night of the protest.

She later told the Correspondent: “Don’t destroy the greenbelt because it should be here for generations to come: for our children and our grandchildren.

“Once it is lost, it is gone forever. While there are brown sites they should be used first. There are a lot of brown sites, especially in Royton.

“They think they can build expensive houses and get a lot of revenue from council tax. That is what the Council want

“If they build on brown sites maybe in the centre of town, they will not generate the same revenue as these areas.”

A spokesperson for OMBC denied there had been a lack of information about drop in sessions across the borough.

“Leaflets and posters have been placed in various Oldham Council buildings. Regular Facebook and Twitter posts from the Council accounts have advertised them.

“The events are listed on the Oldham Council website. In addition, GMCA have taken out statutory notices in a number of publications. This is all standard practice for a consultation.”

The Council also distanced itself from developers’ speculative correspondence.

A spokesman said: “We are aware a number of residents have been contacted by developers. But these are private businesses and do not have any connection to the council.

“Any complaints should be referred to the companies that have sent the letters.”

Robin Buckley, head of planning for Redrow Homes (Lancashire), said: “A site for 600 homes on land off Thornham Old Road has been proposed in the revised draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

“In a situation like this, where a site is being put forward for future development, it is standard practice for housebuilders to seek options on land which might eventually provide access.

“It is of course at the home owners’ discretion if and how they respond and we are happy to clarify the situation.”

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