By Charlotte Green, local democracy reporter
CONTROVERSIAL plans have been lodged which could see up to 200 homes built on a former quarry site and protected green space in Springhead.
The outline planning application has been submitted to Oldham Council for the huge development and associated access roads at Springhead Quarry and land which was the former Stone Breaks quarry.
It is being proposed by the Stonebreaks Group, who jointly own the land between Springhead and Grotton, and are working with development company the Millson Group.
The 8.48-hectare site comprises the disused quarry, grassland, Timbertops residential dwelling, and land to the north of Highfield House.
However, 88 per cent of the land off Cooper Street is designated as Other Protected Open Land (OPOL) which, although not officially green belt, is locally protected.
A deadline of July 8 has been set for comments to be submitted to Oldham Council and a decision on the application by the planning committee is expected by September 1.
The site, which is bounded by a conservation area, has been subject to several planning applications over the years, which were all fiercely opposed by local residents.
A 2011 application by the same developer for 61 dwellings was approved despite a backlash but due to ‘viability issues’ never progressed.
The latest proposals include 142 houses, from two-bed up to five-bed, and 18 one and two-bed apartments. Of these, 10 per cent would be ‘affordable’.
A 40-bed ‘elderly living facility’ for the over 55s is also included in the plans.
A design and access document by the Millson Group admits that building houses on the protected land would be a ‘departure from the development plan’ drawn up by the council.
But they say its removal from OPOL allocation should be acceptable in order to allow for a ‘sustainable and viable development to be brought forward’.
The report states: “The vision behind this development looks to provide opportunities for new homeowners to buy affordable homes and in turn climb up the property ladder with ample opportunity to do so within this development itself.
“The development proposes to enhance the footpaths and incorporate new open spaces and walking areas to access areas such as Wood Brook and such to the East of the site.
“New residents will be able to easily access the nearby schools and nurseries, making it ideal for families.
“The connectivity via Oldham Road and Huddersfield Road will allow new families of the development to access areas of Lees which will provide economic growth and support local businesses, clubs, sports facilities which have been identified.”
An impression of the planned homes
The developer says it would see ‘enhanced open space’ to increase accessibility to the public, as well as the creation and enhancement of wildlife habitats to support the biodiversity within the site.
The public right of way on the land would be improved, they say, with a ‘maintained and improved green link corridor’.
The application comes ten months after Oldham’s planning committee approved plans by Russell Homes for 265 homes and a £3.5m link road on OPOL land at nearby Knowls Lane in Springhead, despite opposition from thousands of residents.
A judicial review has been set for July 28 as Save Our Valleys continues its opposition to the plans for the area, part of which was recently granted Ancient Woodland status.
Further information about the Stonebreaks Development is available online: https://www.stonebreaksdevelopment.co.uk
To see the planning proposal and submit comments, visit Oldham Council’s website using the planning reference PA/344851/20: https://www.oldham.gov.uk/planning