Campaigners opposed to the concreting over of large swathes of greenbelt and greenfield in Crompton, Royton and Shaw are on the march.
A united demonstration of local ‘save greenbelt’ groups will walk to Tandle Hill on Sunday, March 3 in a show of solidarity against the latest proposals in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.
In 2016, when the initial controversial homes, jobs and environment document was unveiled, about 3,000 protestors took part in a similar march to the popular country park.
This time, organisers hope that figure will be surpassed after complaints politicians and planners have ignored previous concerns.
About 14,290 homes are proposed to be built between now and 2037 in the Oldham area, an increase of 590 dwellings from the previous allocation.
Several hundred residents attended a drop-in session for the planned Hanging Chadder site at Thornham St James School on Castleton Road earlier this month.
Now ‘Save Royton’s Greenbelt’ supporters are to meet with ‘Save Shaw’s Greenbelt’ campaigners at 11am opposite the Castleton Road school.
Other groups from Chadderton, Middleton, Slattocks and Newhey are to approach from the other side of Tandle Hill in a co-ordinated march to all congregate at the Tandle Hill War Memorial for 12noon.
Noel Mahon, chair of Save Royton Greenbelt, said: “During the 2016 GMSF draft consultation, we organised a similar march which saw more than 3,000 people attend.
“We are expecting an even larger demonstration this time.
“Residents are angry their concerns expressed with regards to building on their beloved greenbelt have been ignored by the respective Oldham and Rochdale Councils.
More information can be found on the web at www.saveroytonsgreenbelt.com Or the ‘Save Royton’s Greenbelt’ Facebook page.
Residents’ concerns are shared by local councillors including Oldham Council’s leader of the opposition Cllr Howard Sykes.
“We are totally opposed to any house building on our precious green belt when there are existing brownfield sites that can be built upon first, including cleared sites with planning permission and derelict mills and empty shops in our town centres that can be converted,” he said.
“These locations are often eyesores and local people would often welcome them being brought back into productive use.
“The greenbelt is irreplaceable and once lost will be lost forever.
“That is why so many residents in this borough are up in arms about Labour’s proposals in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.”
He continued: “More affordable homes are needed, including more homes for social rent and for part-ownership, especially for first time buyers and renters on a lower income who need a helping hand to get on the housing ladder.
“With our growing population, we will also need more accessible properties catering for the needs of older people with disabilities, for families with one or more child with disabilities and for young adults with disabilities wishing to live independently.”
Royton North councillor James Larkin has described the revised GMSF plans as “flawed.”
He told the Correspondent: “I welcome the decision by the Mayor and the GMCA to revisit these plans and try to reduce the impact on Greenbelt land.
“However, it is the view of many Roytoners, as well as myself, that again this plan is flawed and does not meet the needs of the people in the north of the borough. Or indeed the north of the conurbation of Greater Manchester.
“For development to be so heavily concentrated to the north of the borough across Royton, Shaw and Crompton, along with the plans in Rochdale, will result in urban sprawl and the loss of the buffer between the towns.
“The numbers both this and the initial draft of the GMSF are based on are flawed.
“I urge the GMCA and the Mayor to push the government again to revisit this. To base projections on pre-Brexit figures is, by any logic, remiss.
“I will stand with the residents of Royton to hopefully minimise, if not remove, the loss of any greenbelt.
“We need a plan for the growth of Royton, Oldham and Greater Manchester, however I do not believe it is this plan.”
The Correspondent has previously requested comments from councillors Amanda Chadderton, Hannah Roberts and Clint Phythian but did not receive a response prior to publication.
• Save Royton’s Greenbelt has set up a JustGiving page to raise funds for their campaign and has reached its first target of £1,000.
To contribute go to: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/royton-greenbelt