Questions remain over Knowls Lane development after latest approval

COUNCILLORS have hit out as they believe several questions remain unanswered after alterations to an ‘ugly’ housing development were approved.

There are also concerns allowing the Knowls Lane scheme could leave Oldham Council exposed to a multi-million pound problem over an apparent mineshaft on the site.

An application to modify the appearance, landscaping and layout of 234 properties that will be built on the land in Lees was given the go ahead.

But Saddleworth West representative Cllr Alicia Marland vowed to keep on pushing for answers she believes were not provided.

And Cllr Max Woodvine slammed the decision to even allow the outline planning permission that was granted previously.

Cllr Marland, who asked several questions along with ward colleague Cllr Mark Kenyon, including about the size of the houses as single people and couples are ‘highly unlikely to want them or afford them,’ said: “Yet again, the meeting has given no satisfactory answers to many valid questions posed by councillors and the residents of Saddleworth.

“This development will not provide the type of houses that we need, it isn’t delivering on the many promises made in the original proposal and there is still no coherent plan to confirm the ability to build new homes on a coal mine affecting the first phase of houses in the proposed build programme.

Knowls Lane

“Sadly, the application was approved by the majority of committee members despite many fundamental conditions and concerns being overlooked.

“We will continue to keep on asking the questions that need to be asked and challenging the often spurious responses that are given. We will push to improve every element of this application – which should never have been approved in the first place.”

The planning committee also heard an impassioned speech from local resident Jane Barker, who voiced fears over building close to a mineshaft, which is indicated on old plans but investigations to find out whether it is there are still taking place.

Knowls Lane homes application was submitted to Oldham Council

She said: “There are many reasons why this application should be refused, there’s also the issue of safety.

“This layout still includes properties within the zone of influence of a mineshaft. The decision to approve the previous application leaves the council exposed to a potentially huge financial risk.

“17 properties are affected, if there is a collapse the financial liabilities could amount to millions of pounds.

“Have you considered that if any of the houses collapse, people may get injured or die and have you considered the potential of any corporate manslaughter charges that might occur?

“Our community has no confidence in the planning department. We will never forgive you.”

Knowls Lane

Saddleworth Parish Council expressed concerns over a number of issues relating to the development.

Worries include the sustainability of the drainage system, too many high walls and hedges around the development, potential harm to the houses close to the mineshaft, the development not being future proofed, in that traditional gas boilers are going to be fitted rather than sustainable heating systems and that two-and-a-half storey townhouses may impact on the street scene.

However, those were answered, including the Coal Authority telling Oldham Council it feels the mineshaft can be worked around safely.

Thomas Relph, planning land manager for applicant Russell Homes, said their investigations make them believe a mineshaft does not exist.

He replied: “The proposals will still deliver a range of new family housing.

“They also bring forward the delivery of on-site affordable housing, with 42 coming in the first 100.

“All technical matters have been agreed and the Coal Authority has confirmed the foundation solutions proposed are acceptable for any property built within the zone of influence.”

However, Cllr Woodvine, who moved motions for refusal and deferral based on the mineshaft theory, blasted Oldham Council for allowing a mix of styles to appear on streets in the area, Cllr Kenyon also asked, ‘Don’t we deserve better?’

He said, although it was contended he was using ‘somewhat unfair terminology’: “It’s not a case of, ‘We’ll just playing to the lowest common denominator, just build what you want, however ugly.’ We should be saying, ‘It has to be built in a traditional style.’

“It’s a shame the council’s once again working to the lowest common denominator, build ugly buildings and that’s it, that’s fine. It’s a shame we can’t demand the best standards.”

 

4 Replies to “Questions remain over Knowls Lane development after latest approval”

    1. Not at all. The Public Right of Way diversion crossing the new link road has just been refused by the Planning Inspectorate. Back to square one for the road plans!

  1. Crazy to have an offset junction between the end of Lees New Road and the new ratrun through the estate from Oldham Road, Springhead to Knowls Lane. It’ll be dangerous chaos at rush hour.

  2. Looks like a great development. Will be great for local businesses and bring new life into the area.

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