Campaigners continue battle to save valleys as planning refusal is appealed

FROM children splashing in the streams to dog walkers enjoying the fresh air and open landscapes, the green valleys in Springhead, Lees and Grotton are treasured by many.

That is why Julie Power, who sent in these heart-warming images, is one of hundreds of local residents objecting to plans to build 265 homes and a link road on the land.

Julie was even inspired by a recent visit to Thornley Brook Valley and Ashbrook Valley to write a poem, saying: “We see something different every time we go. We had lots of fun.”

But the land could be the site of a housing development after proposals were put forward by developers Russell Homes to build there.

The scheme was thrown out by OMBC’s planning committee last December despite recommendation for approval by planning officers.

Around 2,500 people objected to the scheme to build a road linking Knowls Lane and Ashbrook Road, and the houses to be spread over 15 hectares (37 acres), with half of the site designated protected open land (OPOL).

But now an appeal and a statement of case has been lodged against the council’s decision with the Planning Inspectorate by Barton Willmore acting on behalf of Russell Homes. 

Around 80 members of the public, along with local councillors, gathered at a meeting at Grotton Pavilion in April as they look to continue their fight against the plans.

They are encouraging locals to lodge their objections to the appeal by the deadline of Tuesday, May 7.

The Save Our Valleys group, which has been leading the campaign, said: “There is an abundance of housing in Saddleworth West and Lees – we haven’t got the infrastructure for any more and we haven’t got the space.

“Russell Homes say it will generate £11.3 million for the borough but even the planning consultant said that’s not quite right as not everyone coming into the homes would be new to the borough, they would just move from a different area.

“There are always people out there enjoying the space with their children or their dogs – unless we are all imagining it.

“Russell Homes say these are aspirational homes – but we have plenty of large, expensive homes in Saddleworth already. Surely it’s the green space that makes this area aspirational?

“We have been fighting this for about two years and we are not going to give up.”

One attendee pointed out: “GMSF retains this as OPAL whereas other sites have been put forward for building on. Surely that shows its importance?”

Another added: “If the inspector comes and stands at the bottom of the dell and looks around and thinks anything other than ‘they can’t build an estate here’ then she wants her head testing!”

Ashbrook Wildlife Watch, a group for children to learn more about wildlife, nature and the environment, uses the valleys for their activities and say they would be lost if development went ahead.

Cllr Steven Bashforth, chair of Oldham Council’s planning committee, will defend its decision at the appeal. 

A spokesperson for Oldham Council explained a four-day Public Inquiry has been set up by the Planning Inspectorate from July 23 at Oldham Civic Centre at the Council Chamber.

Anyone can send in comments and pictures to the planning inspectorate, including the reference: App/W4223/W/19/3225262 Land at Knowls Lane, Oldham.

In writing, provide your name and address and three copies to: Helen Skinner, The Planning Inspectorate, Room 3/J, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol, BS1 6PN

By email to helen.skinner@planninginspectorate.gov.uk 

On the online portal: https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk  

Letters have been sent to residents who commented on the scheme previously as required by the Planning Inspectorate.

Russell Homes were contacted by the Independent but said they did not wish to comment at this stage.

One Reply to “Campaigners continue battle to save valleys as planning refusal is appealed”

  1. This man is a great guy ended up in his situation through playing for our town. Why take away this from him.

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