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Summary and commentary on: Oldham Local Plan: Integrated Assessment of the Local Plan Review, Scoping Report

The Plan is very detailed and very long hence this summary only identifies the main points of relevance for the community to utilise when working together to ‘save our valleys’.

The Integrated Assessment (IA) of Oldham’s Local Plan includes a Sustainability Appraisal that includes Strategic Environmental Assessment, which focuses on economic, environmental and social objectives.

Sustainable development section states that development should ‘meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.

Clearly, Springhead and Grotton are highly populated areas and creating a built environment on ‘our valleys’ will compromise the health and well-being of future generations.

  • The Plan claims that the requirements of the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004  are to be incorporated so that the ‘potential environmental effects are given full consideration’.
    • It was obvious at the meeting with the building contractors that they had given no consideration, to the environmental impact relating to removal of ‘Other Protected Open Land’ either for the wildlife or in terms of the health and wellbeing of the current community and future generations.

Housing

    • It is important to note, that the Plan identifies that 3,560 dwellings need to be delivered up to 2026 stating that there is a need to encourage the provision of large family accommodation (three/four plus beds). This implies building to accommodate larger families.
      • However, the contractors told residents at the local meeting that their expectations are for only 500-600 total population with an expectation that only 2-3 people would live in the homes. Hence, it is highly questionable whether this is a development targeted at reducing the need for larger family homes across the borough.
      • If the expectation is that larger families will occupy the homes then this could mean around 1,000 additional residents in the Grotton and Springhead area with impact on schools, transport and services.
        • Schools are oversubscribed – the identification of a new primary school will not alleviate the issue.
        • Very difficult to get an appointment at our local doctor surgeries with more people referred to the local ‘Walk in Centre’.
        • Our roads are very congested and in poor repair. The planned through road will bring more traffic as residents from the Ashton area take a ‘short cut’ to the M62 motorway.
        • Flooding is already an issue around Grotton – how will high volume housing impact on this infrastructure?
    • The Plan states that there is a need to ‘use land efficiently and effectively, promoting housing on brownfield land’ (page 21). The Plan also says that the council has a requirement for at least 80% of new dwellings to be on previously developed land.  Yet the Plan says that due to the ‘regeneration that has taken place … there is very little clearance planned’.
      • Is the building of new dwellings in the valleys efficient or effective? Or are contractors offering an easier option given that the Plan suggests that the council is not intending further regeneration in the borough?
    • The Plan identifies the need to reduce empty homes by improving existing housing stock to ensure a sufficient supply of quality dwellings.

 

  • While this may not be an argument for avoiding building on ‘our valleys’ it is a strong point in terms of using land efficiently and effectively and thus avoiding the need to develop ‘Other Protected Open Land’.

 

Conservation

The Plan makes reference to Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) saying that refusal of planning applications can relate to LCA with a need ‘to ensure that development respects landscape character and has regard for National Character objectives and any Landscape Character Assessments’ (page 10).

  • Notably, the Plan makes reference to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSP) and proposals to release some Green Belt land and Other Protected Open Land in Oldham.
    • This is clearly an issue of concern in relation to the ‘Save our Valleys’ action. There is more work can be done to lay claim to LCA regarding the gateway to open countryside.
    • Would certainly be useful to objections with Andy Burnham the new Mayor of Greater Manchester (he will need to be elected again!!!) at:

GMCA,
Churchgate House
56 Oxford Street
Manchester
M1 6EU

E mail: enquiries@greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk

Responding to the Oldham Local Plan

The Plan says that residents of the borough can respond before 21 August, 2017 to the Scoping Report sending comments to:

Strategic Planning and Information

Oldham Council

Room 310

Civic Centre

Oldham

OL1 1UG

Or email: spi@oldham.gov.uk

Actions we can take:

  • Respond to the Oldham Local Plan stating serious concerns around the potential loss of Other Protected Open Land specifically in our area given the high density of housing already in the local area.
  • Use issues in the Oldham Local Plan to write letters objecting to the development.