Controversial plans to build a huge development of homes and holiday lodges on the edge of a Saddleworth beauty spot have met mass opposition from residents, tourists and politicians.
Nearly 1000 people have signed a petition against the re-development of Fletcher’s Paper Mill site and surrounding green belt in Greenfield.
The Dovestone and Chew Valley Action Group, formed to fight the proposals under the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, have pledged to step up opposition to the scheme.
The first round of public consultation closes at 23.59pm on Monday, January 16. There has already been wide spread condemnation throughout Greater Manchester of the massive ‘land grab’ plans that could see up to 227,000 homes built by 2035.
Locally, Oldham Council stand accused of working with the owners of the Fletchers site and against the interests of residents.
If successful 100 lodges and 120 ‘executive’ homes would be built in view of Dovestone Reservoir and the surrounding Peak District National Park.
The mill site and surrounding land is registered to companies in the Isle of Man.
But they are linked to the Purico ‘family’ in Nottingham whose portfolio includes Dovestone Park Ltd and who were owners of Robert Fletcher’s Mill that closed in 2001 with the loss of more than 150 jobs.
Another of their companies, Robert Fletcher (Greenfield) Ltd, was finally liquidated in August last year.
Greenfield Conservative Parish Councillor, Jamie Curley, told the Independent: “I am aware of a meeting between the owners and Oldham Council officials from over 12 months ago where the site and land was being offered up for sale and where the Council Officials offered advice to the land owners about changing its use if put up for sale.
“This begs the question: ‘What is the Council’s involvement in this deal and are they truly acting in the interests of Saddleworth residents?
“These proposals ignore the effects on the local area and infrastructure.
“Is it merely Oldham Council looking for a “quick fix” to fit the quota given by the spatial framework? I and local taxpayers would like to know the answer to this.
“Already at this stage it feels as though the deals have been done and that it will be foisted on local people.
“It is about time it was made clear to Oldham Council that local people must be listened to and not treated in such a high handed manner.
“Greenfield already struggles with high traffic volumes which are approaching danger level and the addition of at least 120 houses will bring around 240 vehicles into the area permanently.
“You cannot just build a new road or widen an existing road as many roads have buildings either side already or are limited by the terrain.
“Will the costs to change all this be solely put on taxpayers and not the developers?
“The land was refused for sale when the search for a suitable site for the new Saddleworth School was being conducted because the owner refused to sell.
“Yet now the owner is not only willing to sell the mill site but much of the green space around it to build inappropriate houses which will not meet Oldham’s stated need for increased housing.”
Saddleworth East MP Debbie Abrahams has also waded into the debate. She told constituents: “You have recently been in touch with me expressing concerns about the draft version of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework. I share many of these concerns.
“The GMSF is looking to accommodate land for 200,000 jobs and provide over 227,000 new homes. There is a strong and continuing emphasis on directing new development to brownfield land in urban locations.
“However, the GMCA state that the scale of growth requires the release of land from the Green Belt.
“I am very concerned about some aspects of the methods and process used, for example, the GMCA invitation to developers to identify land for development, as well as the assumptions that have been made to justify these proposals.
“In particular I cannot support the identification of approximately three percent of green belt across Oldham for development purposes.
“I recognise Oldham Council’s obligation to identify appropriate sites for building our future homes and businesses, but I will press them to consider alternative options which protect our natural environment and secure this for future generations.”
Saddleworth based Lib Dem Borough and Parish Councillors, John McCann and Alan Belmore also oppose the development.
“Residents should wake up to the massive threat to Saddleworth villages before it is too late,” they said.
“We recognise that housing development is needed to meet local needs. But Greater Manchester’s huge ‘land grab’ typifies their over the top, ‘we know best’ attitude that alienates people and brings politics into disrepute.”
You can contribute online at http://gmsf-consult.objective.co.uk/portal; by email to GMSF@agma.gov.uk; or post to: Greater Manchester Integrated Support Team, PO Box 532, Town Hall, Manchester, M60 2LA by 16 January 2017.