Judicial review confirmed in fight against Knowls Lane development

A JUDICIAL review has been confirmed for July as residents continue to rally together and fight plans to build 265 homes and a major link road in Grotton, Lees and Springhead.A hybrid planning application for the homes off Knowls Lane in Springhead and a £3.5million link road to Ashbrook Road was initially refused in November 2018 by Oldham Council.

Developers Russell Homes said the proposal would bring much-needed homes to the area as well as £11.3 million into the local economy.

But the council’s planning committee agreed the loss of OPOL 12 land and subsequent landscape harm outweighed the benefits of the development.

However, Russell Homes submitted a second application, which was heard at an extraordinary planning meeting in July 2019 and given the go-ahead.

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.

But Save Our Valleys group, whose members were among more than 2,500 people to send in objections to the applications, is continuing its opposition.

With the help of lawyers Irwin Mitchell, it was granted by the Honourable Mrs Justice Lang DBE to proceed with a judicial review.

This is the process of challenging the lawfulness of decisions of public authorities, with campaigners needing to raise £25,000 to finance this final stage of the procedure, of which the group has already reached £15,475.

Save Our Valleys has held numerous fundraisers, including a Party at the Pavilion at Grotton, a beer walk and several quiz nights at Springhead Liberal Club. Other planned events that would have taken the group to the total required were placed on hold because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Now as it nears its target amount, the group is looking ahead to the judicial review which is expected to take place on July 28.

Save Our Valleys said: “Regardless of your view on the houses, this is about procedures and processes being carried out correctly and a system that is transparent and engages with the community, but we didn’t get that.

“We are continuing to raise funds even though we had to sadly place many of our events on hold, including a ball, Fashion and Fizz event, and another Party at the Pavilion.

“However, the community has been great and continued to contribute, showing how much our local green spaces mean, which has been emphasised during the current Covid-19 crisis”

Meanwhile, a member of Save Our Valleys helped secure Ancient Woodland status for Ashes Clough and a stretch of woodland along Thornley Brook within the area mapped out for development.

This status was granted on February 18 by Natural England and has been highlighted to the council’s planning department and borough Tree Champion Cllr George Hulme so it can be taken into consideration.

She explained: “Under the National Planning Policy Framework, any application that involves the destruction of Ancient Woodland should be refused unless there are wholly exceptional circumstances.

“A national drive for housing is not considered to be a wholly exceptional circumstance, according to the Woodland Trust’s Planners’ Manual for Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees.”

• To find out more about the Save Our Valleys’ judicial review campaign go online:

www.crowdjustice.com/case/save-our-valleys/

If anyone has any questions or wishes to support Save Our Valleys, you can email:

actnowsaveourvalleys@gmail.com

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