Green light for controversial plans for 265 homes and new link road at Knowls Lane

CONTROVERSIAL plans for 265 homes and a £3.5million link road will now be built on protected open land in Oldham despite opposition from thousands of residents.

The green light for the development at Knowls Lane in Lees, Springhead and Grotton is a u-turn as the committee had refused the original hybrid application last November.

However, Russell Homes submitted a second application which was heard at an extraordinary planning meeting in June.

Despite recommendation for refusal by Saddleworth Parish Council’s planning committee, the application was approved by Oldham as a majority of members voted in favour.

Only three councillors – John Hudson, Garth Harkness and Diane Williamson – voted against the plans, with Saddleworth Parish Councillor George Hulme backing their plans.

An appeal launched against the first decision was due to be heard later in July but is now expected to be cancelled.

The decision was met with anger from the public gallery, as more than 100 protestors attended the meeting carrying signs and placards bearing the slogan ‘save our valleys’.

As voting took place, an objector shouted that the committee was ‘playing with people’s lives’ and another added ‘shame on you’.

Confusion over the vote only served to inflame tensions in the council chamber which prompted shouts of ‘shambles’ and ‘amateurs’.

Officers had recommended approval after they ruled the initial reasons for refusal over concerns about the loss of the open land no longer outweighed the council’s dwindling housing supply.

Half of the 15hectare site was already allocated for housing, but the remainder was deemed ‘other protected open land’ (OPOL) – which the planning inspector ruled in 2011 was ‘imperative’ to be retained.

Stephen Irvine, head of planning, told the chamber not enough homes are being built in Saddleworth and Lees and the council could not demonstrate it could meet a five-year housing supply in the borough.

This meant the ‘weight’ given to protecting the OPOL site was less than the importance of getting new ‘sustainable development’.

But Save our Valleys objectors said the development would pile pressure on local services and would cause a ‘severe’ loss of wildlife.

“It would bring a potentially dangerous road to the area with more traffic and therefore damage to the environment and health,” they said.

“It would cause the loss of valuable green space, one of the few places in our community used for recreation and exercise. No amount of tree planting will prevent the harm that will be done.

“This development is not suited for this site. It would harm the community and change the characteristics of the villages of Lees, Springhead, and Grotton forever.”

Saddleworth West and Lees ward Councillor Stephen Hewitt also addressed the committee to argue against the plans.

“The community see a glorious green space and an area valued for generations, unfortunately developers just seen the pound signs,” he said.

“We as the elected should fight this with everything that we have. If not, why are we even here?”

Thomas Relph, the planning and land manager at Russell Homes, said there was ‘considerable demand’ for houses from first time buyers in the area.

The construction of the link road would meet a ‘long term aspiration’ of the council and address a ‘historic bottleneck’ and alleviate congestion, he added.

The developer had guaranteed the nearby St Agnes Primary School with space to expand, and would provide 60 affordable homes

But Cllr Garth Harkness said the plans to build into the half of the site designated as protected were ‘greedy’ and will ‘ruin’ the OPOL.

He continued: “Last time we had serious concerns about the link road and none of those have been addressed.”

Cllr John Hudson added: “Whether you call it OPOL or call it green belt or call it what you want – I say why aren’t you knocking these mills down and building on brownfield sites?

“This is becoming our Brexit – you keep making us vote on it until you get the answer you want.

“I want to know why we were not lectured about the housing requirements at our last meeting when we were considering an application in Royton. Or is it one rule for there and one for Saddleworth?”

6 Replies to “Green light for controversial plans for 265 homes and new link road at Knowls Lane”

  1. Only 60 homes are going to be affordable houses are the rest just for the rich then l suppose we will have to wait and see The 60 affordable houses will be bought very quickly and sold in a couple of years at a considerable profit then there will be no longer any affordable housing .

  2. The committee meeting was shambolic. Surely the resulting vote cannot stand. Has the Labour leader, Corbyn, seen how a totally unprofessional Labour council is conducting it’s official business?

    1. If the labour coùncil are continually voted in, then you will continue to have these decisions being passed. I think Saddleworth has had enough housing built in the past. If they wanted affordable housing, the coucil should not have given the go ahead for the 4 & 5 bedroom detached properties over the past 20 years.

  3. Is there any editorial scrutiny of this Organ that
    allows such comments made on July 4th to stand without retraction. A base comment given credence by the failure of this organization to remove it. No discussion just a ribald slur.

  4. Once again the Majority controlled Labour Council railroad through a planning application that it promised was dead prior to the local elections last May.

    Once again the Majority controlled Labour cabal of nepotism and jobs for the boys and girls disregards the local communities and the huge opposition that has been expressed against this assault on nature and recreational activity.

    Once again the voters fell for it and voted for the colour of rosette, because that is how they always vote …..

    Take a look at this ‘farce’ of a planning meeting on YouTube where the proposals were rubber stamped just like the plans issued under the Greater Manchester Spacial Framework document will be rubber stamped. All in-line with Mayor Andy Burnham’s great scheme for the future. A future of traffic jams, pollution and the destruction of greenfield sites around the Borough.

    The only thing that causes Labour to recoil in panic and back peddle is when the ‘one’ political voice that they fear starts getting Councillors elected. It happened last time and it can happen again, if you vote for real determination and opposition to this Council cabinet of corruption. If you want to see the video of the Council meeting then e-mail UKIP and request the link, or visit our Facebook page where the link is also available

    E-mail …. ukip.oldham.ukip@gmail
    FB:- Oldham UKIP

    Make your vote matter and your voice heard by electing UKIP Councillors next May ……. Vote UK Independence Party …….. UKIP ….. Have your wishes complied with and break this stranglehold that the Majority controlled Labour Council exerts in Oldham that gives rise to BAD decisions and one of the highest Council Tax rates in the UK ….

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