By Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter
PLANS have been revealed for hundreds of new homes on countryside controversially allocated for housing under the region’s development masterplan.
A public consultation is underway into proposals to build up to 250 homes on fields at Cowlishaw in Oldham.
The exercise is taking place ahead of a planning application being submitted to the town hall.
Cowlishaw, which sits to the south west of Shaw, is included as one of the borough’s allocations for housing in the latest draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF).
The plot is designated as ‘other protected open land’ (OPOL) – which does not have as much protection as green belt.
The consultation document states that it is being run by ‘Mr J and Mrs B Fitton’ on the draft proposals for development of their land at Cowlishaw, off the A663 Shaw Road.
The proposals are for up to 250 homes, including affordable housing, which could see around 735 new residents move in.
The estate would comprise of a mix of housing types and sizes, ‘including for first time buyers and family homes’.
The proposals also include new public open space and a network of streets and open space to ‘maximise opportunities and encourage walking and cycling’.
Areas of biodiversity would also be retained and enhanced, according to the document.
The site is mostly agricultural land, and the new development would border a site of biological importance
Part of the site would encapsulate previously developed land, including Cowlishaw abattoir.
According to the consultation document, the development would have a number of benefits, including delivery of ‘much needed housing’.
It states that it ‘reduces the need to release green belt land for development’, and would remove the abattoir from a ‘predominately residential area’.
“As a result of the above there will be a reduction in heavy goods vehicles on the local road network in the long term,” the report adds.
Cowlishaw plansOther benefits it promises includes a £1.67m new homes bonus to the council, the creation of 32 jobs a year during the construction phase, and around £500,000 additional council tax revenue per year.
And it adds it would generate ‘approximately £2.8m additional household expenditure per year, supporting 22 full time equivalent jobs’.
The 2016 draft of the GMSF initially saw 640 homes proposed on the site, prompting a fierce backlash from local residents.
Campaigners launched a petition to ‘keep Cowlishaw green’, arguing it was the perfect place for families to discover nature on their doorstep, and would be devastating if their ‘green and pleasant land’ was lost forever.
In the latest iteration of the masterplan, which went out to consultation earlier this year, there are 180 fewer homes proposed, with the figure now at 460.
However, the amount of land allocated remains the same, despite having fewer dwellings planned.
The new proposal promises to deliver more ‘inclusive neighbourhoods’, including high quality family housing.
Main access would be provided from Cocker Mill Lane, with emergency links onto Kings Road.
That is also matched in the latest consultation for the new proposed development.
The consultation is asking for comments from residents, including what type and size of housing they would like to be brought forward, and whether they would like specific things for open space, such as a playground.
Earlier this year Oldham’s planning committee passed an application from Russell Homes to build 265 houses and a link road off Knowls Lane in Lees with nearly half the site designed as other protected open land (OPOL).
Debbie Abrahams MP, whose Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency covers Cowlishaw, addressed the Knowls Lane controversy.
She said: “I agree with the concerns that residents have raised – it is important that we protect open space as it provides health benefits and supports our eco system, which as most people appreciate is under a real and significant threat.
“I will be working with local colleagues and groups to do all I can to protect OPOL land like Knowls Lane.”