More homes and new hotel in latest Fletchers mill re-development plans

A MAJOR new housing development is the proposed centre piece of Saddleworth’s contribution to Greater Manchester’s controversial plans for homes, jobs and the environment.

But four other areas in Greenfield, Delph, Dobcross and Denshaw have received extra protection from future development.

Land for development?

However, despite a move away from greenbelt land in some of Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities, the planned re-development of Robert Fletchers mill, Greenfield will include the loss of green space.

Overall, Greater Manchester will lose 2,420 hectares (approx 6,000 acres) of green belt if all developments eventually take place.

The revised blueprint is set to receive approval from GM’s 10 council leaders, including OMBC’s Cllr Sean Fielding, on Friday, January 11.

Ahead of the meeting Cllr Jamie Curley, whose Saddleworth South OMBC ward includes the 6,000sqm, Fletchers site in Greenfield, asked: “Is this good for Saddleworth?

“Or has Saddleworth been sold out to provide an easy answer for house building targets and as a cash cow for Oldham Council?”

Cllr Curley is urging all residents to take advantage of a two-month public consultation, starting on January 14, to air their views on the latest plans.

More than 27,000 responses throughout Greater Manchester were received during one of three informal consultations between November 2014 and October 2016, forcing a major re-think by the Combined Authority.

The latest 1,134-page document, published on Monday, January 7, is the result.

Fletchers Mill, Greenfield

Originally, 120 homes and 100 holiday lodges were proposed for the one-time paper mill site, closed without warning in 2001. It remains in the control of the same owners.

The amended plan now includes:

• Around 170 homes with a mix of low density family and executive homes and affordable homes of two and three bedrooms;

• Building of 10-15 holiday lodges;

• Boutique hotel to complement the lodge accommodation;

• Provision for visitor education centre linking to Dovestone Reservoir in partnership with RSPB and United Utilities;

• New access point at Manchester Road with spine road linking to and enhancing existing highway network;

• Provide around 2,500sqm of employment floorspace as extension to the provision of Waterside Mill which is to be retained;

• Provide for new and/or improvement of existing open space, sport and recreation facilities.

The report states: “The site provides the potential to provide a high range of high-quality family and executive homes in an attractive and desirable rural location.

“It also provides an opportunity to enhance Oldham’s housing offer and contribute to meeting Oldham’s housing need.

Fletchers Mill, Greenfield

“There is, however, also a need for affordable homes across the Saddleworth villages as many residents who wish to remain living within the area cannot currently afford to do so.

“Affordable homes must therefore be provided as part of the wider development of the area in line with local planning policy requirements.”

However, Cllr Curley said: “Saddleworth is at risk of being buried under increasing developments which benefit only builders and developers and don’t contribute to the community. 

“Do people think this proposal is different or is 170 houses too much?

“There are many questions around building on the site but also the attendant infrastructure, access, transport, increased demand for healthcare and schools as well as a huge increase in traffic. 

“Is this good for Saddleworth or has Saddleworth been sold out to provide an easy answer for house building targets and as a cash cow for Oldham Council?”

He added: “The new proposal is a change from what we saw 18 months ago as it now includes mixed usage and a commitment to affordable housing. 

“However, the question still must be answered” ‘what is in it for the community?

“GM Mayor Andy Burnham has stated we must move away from developer-led greenbelt first building to brownfield first. This proposal flies in the face of his promise.

“So, what is in for Saddleworth? That’s a question only the community can answer.

“I urge everyone to register on the GMCA portal and make sure they comment and give their opinions.”

The same massive document also confirms sites at: Dacres, Wall Hill, Stoneswood and land behind Denshaw Village Hall have been added to the greenbelt register. 

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, said: “I still share concerns regarding the number of greenfield sites proposed for development and will continue to monitor this closely and speak with residents.

“Plans at Fletchers Mill see revised proposals with a mix of commercial, retail, housing and tourism space.

“In the last plan, it was earmarked just for holiday homes and ‘executive’ housing.”

The GMCA says there will be open and transparency over consultation and has provided a variety of ways to contribute:

• Email

• Post to: Planning Team Consultation, GMCA, Churchgate House, 56 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 6EU

• Online: 

• Ring: the Greater Manchester Planning Team on 0161 778 7000. 

Consultation timetable

• January 2019 – informal consultation

• September 2019 – formal (statutory) consultation

• March 2020 – examination of the plan by independent planning inspector 

• December 2020 – adoption of the plan 

During the consultation period the plan and the supporting documents will be available at public buildings across Oldham and drop-in events will also be held to allow people to get more information and help responding to the consultations.

GMSF facts and figures

• 201,000 new homes to be built between 2018-2037 (original proposal was 226,000)

• Includes 50,000 affordable homes between 2018-2037

• Annual average across Greater Manchester: 10,580

• Oldham’s 20-year contribution:14,290

• Oldham’s annual target: 752

• Total loss of Greater Manchester Greenbelt under proposals: two per cent (from 47 to 45 per cent)

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