Garth Harkness

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Saddleworth North Ward on Oldham Council Learn more

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Conservative changes leave local development stuck between a rock and a green place

by Garth Harkness on 27 January, 2021

Conservative changes to planning targets will force Manchester to build an extra 35% more houses than had been planned, which seems likely increase the pressure on green spaces in and around Oldham and Saddleworth.

Following the withdrawal of Stockport from the Greater Manchester development plan, the remaining nine authorities are redrawing the plan, and there is no indication that the other boroughs will be able to avoid taking a share of the additional housing demand.

Liberal Democrat shadow cabinet member for Housing and Homelessness Sam Al-Hamdani said: “The targets being set are completely unrealistic. There need to either be significant changes to fund the regeneration of previously used land, or local authorities need the powers to insist developers cannot build on green spaces while brownfield sites remain.

“The previous version of the Greater Manchester framework was unable to deliver the housing targets without building on the green belt. If central Government increases the figures like this, they are forcing more development on green space. They will then blame it on local authorities, rather than accepting responsibility for their own decisions.”

The next version of the Greater Manchester plan is not expected to be released until after the elections for the Greater Manchester Mayor, so any resulting increases in development on green space are not expected to be announced while they can impact on the election results.

Councillor Al-Hamdani continued: “There are no easy solutions to this. We need more houses, and we have green spaces that we want to protect. It requires honesty in decision making, and responsibility from the people making those decisions. Sadly, I do not see this Conservative Government standing up for either of those values.”

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