Campaigning to re-start after appeal against rejection of Knowls Lane housing plan

Campaigners opposing plans for a huge homes development at Knowls Lane, Lees have called a public meeting on Thursday, April 25 to discuss the implications of an appeal against Oldham Council’s rejection of the controversial proposals.

It will take place at Grotton Pavilion starting at 7.30pm when ward councillors will attend to answer questions about the appeal and possible future outcome.

Developers Russell Homes (UK) Ltd want to create 265 houses across Lees, Springhead and Grotton plus a link road on parts of the villages’ protected open land.

But 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), half of the site designated protected open land (OPOL).

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.

Locals campaigned against the plans

An appeal and a statement of case has now been lodged with the Planning Inspectorate by Barton Willmore acting on behalf of Russell Homes.

The hearing is expected to last three to four days, though no dates have yet been established.

Refusing permission last year, the Council said: “The proposal would result in the loss of OPOL 12 land and subsequent landscape harm and harm to the visual amenity of the Wharmton Undulating Uplands, LCA and Thornley wooded valley landscape since the development will result in a significant fragmentation and loss of Green Infrastructure assets and open landscape, as well as having a transformative effect on the openness, local distinctiveness and visual amenity of OPOL12 and the Wharmton Undulating Uplands.

“This harm significantly and demonstrably outweighs the acknowledged benefits of the scheme when weighed against the Local Plan and NPPF policies taken as a whole.”

Speaking on behalf of Russell Homes Gary Lynch said: “We achieve the council’s aspiration of the link road at no cost to the public purse, we are transferring land to the school (St Agnes) for their expansion, we are an award-winning house-builder delivering very high quality family homes, and affordable homes to meet local need and housing targets.”

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