Keith, Graham and Iain

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Where will we build homes and offices (and why we shouldn’t panic!)

by Iain Roberts on 9 March, 2016

We all know that Greater Manchester is growing. We want more jobs, better shops and facilities and all the rest that comes with a thriving area. But we know that to achieve that we need more offices, more homes and better infrastructure (roads, trains, trams, schools, medical centres and so on).

So we need to plan. We need to figure out where we want the new houses and offices to go, and how we’re going to make sure we can cope with the extra people and traffic. After all, if we don’t decide then someone else will, and we might not like the decisions they make.

The ten Greater Manchester councils are working together to develop a joint plan – called the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF). It’s in the early stages. So far people have been asked to submit sites they think might be suitable for development. Those sites have not been looked at yet.

So we have a map showing places where someone thinks there may be scope for houses or offices to be built, and over the next year or two they’ll be looked at, with a public consultation, and where they are suitable they’ll be given that status in the final plan. That then gives the local councils far more power to say “no” to developers who want to build where we don’t want them to, so it’s an important step to protect the parts of our area we want to.

It’s easy to look at these maps, assume it’s a done deal and think “Oh no, they’re going to build on X” but that’s not how the system works and there are all sorts of reasons why a submitted site isn’t suitable.

There are relatively few sites submitted in our patch, which isn’t surprising as we’ve already got a lot of housing here. There are some though:

  • The High Grove Pub site – not a great surprise as we know Hydes want to sell it for housing.
  • The Cheadle College site – we know the College have looked at ideas for development in the past
  • Demmings Industrial Estate – where some housing has recently been built off Old Wool Lane
  • Abney Hall Park

So the one that jumps out is Abney Hall Park. There’s development within the park (Abney Hall and the new care home for starters) but is the parkland going to be built on? “No” and “over our dead bodies” are the responses that spring to mind!

Anyone can propose any site for consideration. Abney Hall Park is owned by the council, but has been proposed by someone else entirely – we don’t know why and we wouldn’t permit the park to be developed – certainly while the Council is Lib Dem-run.

Sites submitted for development consideration - these are NOT approved!

Sites submitted for development consideration – these are NOT approved!

You can see the full map for Greater Manchester here.

   16 Comments

16 Responses

  1. nigel hunter says:

    It sounds to me that you have to campaign for more Lib Dem councillors

  2. Chris Nolan says:

    Hi Iain

    The one that jumps out at me is the cheadle college site.

    Is it the college themselves that have submitted the site as potential development?

    Thanks

    Chris

    • Iain Roberts says:

      Hi Chris – I don’t know who’s submitted any of the sites at the moment. The college looked at building homes on part of their site a couple of years ago, to help them raise money to improve the buildings, but that didn’t happen. Given the financial pressures they (like all colleges) are under, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were interested in exploring some sort of development on the site.

      • Chris Nolan says:

        Thanks for the response Iain, much appreciated.

        With little Greenbelt remaining in cheadle hulme, I’d hope this area could be protected from development.

        One to keep an eye on anyway.

        On a sidenote, any idea where the new campus for cheadle hulme high school backed 2nd campus and primary school are likely to be?

        Many thanks,

        Chris

  3. Alan Gent says:

    Tip of the iceberg. The council started the ball rolling by failing to invest in Abney Hall and Park. The Hall itself is historically interesting and with development could have become a tourist destination, which would have recouped its development costs. Instead it was handed to Bruntwood, who wasted no time in effecting the construction of oh! an old peoples home- shock!
    Although, several aspects of development were mentioned, it’s a bit like Eric Morecambe said, “right notes, not necessarily in the right order.” ANY development should be preceded by the assessment AND CONSTRUCTION of the requisite transport links BEFORE the development is started. That means the council gets it right and the developer has an incentive to build their properties – no infrastructure, no development.

  4. clare north says:

    Trouble is Iain, doesn’t matter what the councils stance on this is, if developments meet guidelines then councils have, in effect, little say, they’re just part of the planning process. Big issue is that the country is short of some 450,000 homes, so whether we agree or support it ot not, it will happen at some point. Planning laws have already been relaxed to aid building on what were greenfeld sites easier for developers. Whilst I like Abney Park, this has already started some years ago … Alex Hospital, Care UK care home, Brumtwood lease for Abney Hall … There’s plenty of space in Abney Park which would join Cheadle to Parrswood/Didsbury and maybe make a tram extension more viable.

    • Iain Roberts says:

      Hi Clare – you’re right that where developments meet the rules they can generally go ahead. But no new development in Abney Hall Park would meet the rules. (The care home replaced an existing building and the hall was already there when Bruntwood took it over – neither were developments on existing parkland). This process is important as it gives council more power to set to the rules about where building can and should take place.

  5. David Johnson says:

    I am just an old moaner who enjoys and recognises the wider importance of greenery for us all. The area is already over concreted/bricked/tarmacked – the few bird songs cannot be heard over tyre noise (try Gatley Carrs for example). But even on a short term viewpoint the resources available and possible in the short term cannot possibly support increased workspace and housing. Need I mention crowded roads – both main and residential, air pollution, noise pollution, law enforcement, etc!

  6. Rob Kitchen says:

    Correct the care home did replace an office bulding, but the office building was new when built 25 years ago. And how did the Alex build there hospital site? 30 years ago, this was green belt land. Progress is what is needed. There needs to be a compromise, we are desperately short of housing but appear unwilling to let land go for development. Selling off a proportion of the Abney land would no doubt fill a large chunk of the councils deficit – we can’t have it all as well as improving much needed public transport for the area.

  7. Stella Morris says:

    Abney is a lovely place to walk, but has become very dirty and tired over the last three of four years since the council pulled out their rangers who worked tirelessly looking after the area.

    There’s litter everywhere, with pathways that aren’t cleared in summertime when plants and shrubbery grows, and this year has seen a disastrous overflow of the large pond off Newlands Road, spilling over to the footpath area. Then there was last year’s sinkhole episode as well as the bird wildlife on the large pond now forced into the hedges due to the council not repositioning the several floating bird islands. What was the football pitch no longer has any goals posts. The decked pathway from where the football pitch had used to be is missing several foot planks.

    And also let’s not forget the waterfall bridge that collapsed due to poor maintenance, which still hasn’t been fixed some 15 months on. If the park is to continue to lack maintenance and continue to fall into disrepair, then who would argue against such a proposition?

    My point is that times are very difficult to only a few years ago. We also have a local shortage of low cost housing stock, a national issue, and if the local authority is constantly having budgets slashed, then places that are owned by the council, such as Abney Hall Park, should be on the agenda for development if it means safeguarding services that can not be financially be supported and also provide affordable houses.

  8. Mike O'Malley says:

    Very highly contentious issue, particularly in England, where the development of land is split between greenfield and brownfield sites. I have heard that the Greater Manchester greenfield boundaries are changing to allow these type of developments and anyone can see why – Manchester is the fastest growing city in the UK.

    It becomes contentious, and party-political, due to a limited amount of physical space available, competing with an expanding population that needs housing – something that is never going away.

    All sides of this type of debate acknowledge that there is a housing crisis within the UK, but local councillors will always disagree as to how it could be resolved. The Government has identified a need to find land for over 4 million new housing units in England and Wales by 2030, so it looks sensible to look at how Abney Park can support his programme.

  9. andy pallikos says:

    Sorry Iain but your response to Clare is incorrect. There have been plenty of recent instances where previously undeveloped greenbelt land has been sold off by councils to revenue generation, lots in greater Manchester in the past few years in fact (Hilton Lane in Worsley, Littleborough, Rochdale, Boothstown, Salford). If constituents were balloted on keeping or even improving services as opposed to loosing them and, or increasing taxes, parkland, football pitches, recreational greenspace has to be considered.

    • Iain Roberts says:

      Hi Andy, apologies if my response was unclear. There are of course situations where greenbelt is developed – there needs to be exceptional reasons and sometimes there are. Cheshire East is looking at a big green belt release right now.

  10. Sue F says:

    I struggle to see any part of Abney Hall Park which would be suitable for housing? It’s a wetland area for a reason!!!

  11. Hilda Berryman says:

    Sue its all useable in the sense of the word; wetland, bogland, landfill … all can be development projects, just look at what the nearby land was before it became the M60 motorway, marsh and woodlands. I think t is a sensible approach to look at opportunities like this. Abney has been in decline since the 1960’s, but very much so over the last decade. If it provides millions of pounds of income to the council that can then fund social care, health care, schools and public transport, where’s the case for opposing it?

  12. Bernie Price says:

    As the leader of the Friends of the High Grove Ltd on the bid for the survival of the High Grove , I would like to comment on your post for new housing sites:

    Replacing the High Grove with housing will not solve any perceived housing problem in Gatley, as it will only add a handful of residents.

    However it will deny the whole community of having access to a proper local pub that was given support by the council and made an Asset of Community Value.

    As a supporter of the ACV, you will know that over 700 local residents signed petitions to save this pub from developers.

    Several weeks ago the Friends of the High Grove (on behalf of our backer, who is a local Gatley resident ) submitted a bid exceeding the Hydes asking price
    for the High Grove. We also have provided Hydes with proof that we have the funds to buy this property.

    We are still awaiting Hydes response.

    Our bid, which will vastly improve the the High Grove to make it a proper traditional English pub with decent facilities and have proper management, will create at least 20 jobs for local residents and business opportunities for local suppliers.

    The High Grove is our local that looks after locals and cares about our local community, and every year raises money to support St Ann’s Hospice.

    We sincerely hope that our local councillors look after the local residents wishes and support out bid to keep the High Grove open.

    Recent information I have seen today looks like the Hydes CEO is stalling for time on a response to our bid for the High Grove and will not progress this matter further until the ACV expires on April 7th.

    This is a little bit worrying and it will need further investigation.

    Bernie Price

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