Campaigners host ‘Walk for the Valleys’ protest against development of new homes

DETERMINED campaigners are inviting the community to join them on a ‘Walk for the Valleys’ as they fight to save green space in Springhead, Lees and Grotton from development.

In July, Russell Homes unveiled their proposals to build 265 family homes at land north of Knowls Lane, Lees and a new link road in Thornley Brook Valley and Ashbrook Valley.

The 40-acre green space – one of the last in the village – is popular with walkers, riders and children, and home to much wildlife.

The plans to replace it with homes have been met by concern and anger by many residents and councillors.

The ‘Save Our Valleys’ group have launched a petition, and more than £2,700 has been pledged by locals on a Just Giving page to enlist specialist help to fight the planning application.

And on Saturday, September 16, there is a ‘Walk for the Valleys’ to show objection to the plans, starting at Grotton Pavilion at 11.30am.

The group said: “We will walk the two valleys to raise awareness of the proposals and destruction of this beautiful and well used green space.

“We will return to the Pavilion around 2pm where refreshments will be on sale along with a raffle to raise funds to oppose the taking of protected land and the damage this will cause.”

A planning application is expected to be submitted soon, including one part for the link road between Lees New Road with Ashbrook Road with access points, and a second for outline planning for the homes, open space and landscaping.

52 per cent of the site, some of which is council-owned and some privately, is safeguarded land for residential development under saved policy H1.2 of the Oldham Unitary Development Plan, while the other 48 per cent is OPOL (other protected open land).

Main concerns around the plans include loss of green space, the new road, noise, effect on the environment and wildlife, and the strain on schools, doctors and transport.

Liberal Democrat councillors across Saddleworth have also joined the fight against the plans – continuing their battle to save the valley which they have continued over decades.

In the 1990s they also launched a petition to oppose plans to building the valley, and then again when new plans re-emerged in 2014.

They said: “Ashbrook and Thornley Brook valleys are havens for wildlife as well as important recreational areas in Springhead, Lees and Grotton which have little open green space.”

Find out more about ‘Save Our Valleys on their Facebook page or Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/saveourvalleyslees

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