By Charlotte Green – Local Democracy Reporter
TWO areas in Saddleworth will lose protection from development once changes to Oldham’s local planning policy come into force.
The council’s cabinet has agreed to adopt an interim planning paper on ‘other protected open land’ (OPOL) following a review.
Sites with OPOL designation are areas of land which are not in the green belt but which were protected from development as they provided ‘important breaks’ between built up areas.
However the national planning policy framework does not use the OPOL label but refers to sites as ‘local green space’ which the council says it considers ‘similar in its function and purpose’.
Officers have assessed existing OPOL sites against the criteria for the local green space designation and are recommending that two areas lose their status.
These are land at Rumbles Lane around the former Lumb Mill in Delph and land south of Oaklands Road in Grasscroft.
The Places for Everyone strategic housing allocations will also replace OPOL designations at Bullcote Lane, Shawside and Cowlishaw.
However officers say the remainder of the OPOL sites are considered to meet the new criteria and would be renamed under the new local plan.
All the OPOL sites will remain as such until the local plan or Places for Everyone documents come into force.
Cllr Hannah Roberts, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “We carried out a review and the paper says that not all of the current sites designated as OPOL meet the new criteria for local green space.
“So it’s listing and suggesting the current OPOL sites that do meet the criteria, that we should apply that in the interim.
“The two sites that no longer meet the local green space criteria will remain as OPOL until there are any changes adopted through the local plan.
“But in the meantime using the local green space designation gives us stronger protection for the vast majority of our OPOL sites and enables us to use this as a material consideration when looking at planning applications.
“It may help us address some of the issues that arise with the titled balance that arises from not having a five-year housing land supply.”
Cllr Luke Lancaster, Shadow Cabinet Member for Housing, commented: “These proposals to de-designate protected land in Delph and Friezland are greatly concerning.
“In both cases, Oldham Council acknowledges the land adds to our area’s attractiveness, so why then is it being proposed that their protections are removed?
“Following Places for Everyone being passed, this is yet another example of Oldham Council treating Saddleworth with contempt.”