The following draft response has been compiled members of the Save Stockport's Greenbelt campaign, which reflect the main concerns expressed on their Facebook group.
Title: Email response to GMSF - OA21 High Lane (Stockport)
Dear Sir / Madam,
The following content re the GMSF Plan makes reference to the responses of the Council For The Protection Of Rural England (CPRE) and Marple Civic Society responses to the same. The site proposed for 4,000 dwellings on Greenbelt, adjoins the one of the last villages in Stockport containing only 2,000 homes, effectively removing the boundary between Hazel Grove and High Lane. Residents and visitors to the area regularly suffer from congestion on a Trunk Rd deemed unfit for purpose decades ago, with poor air quality along the A6 corridor an already critical issue.
The development of 4,000 homes here will exacerbate problems residents already face. Public transport services are inadequate, and the residents of High Lane, CPRE and Marple Civic Society believe this site should be taken out of the GMSF as no exceptional circumstances to build exist.
The objections to this plan are:
1. Air Quality
The A6 dissects High Lane and already fails Government Air Quality standards. As NICE has recently stated, local councils must take air quality into consideration on all planning matters
2. Road Congestion
The A6 trunk road was deemed unfit for purpose in the 1970s, with no plan currently in place for any bypass for High Lane and Disley. 4,000 new homes will result in a significant increase in traffic on the road, which is already highly congested. There is an alarming lack of detail in the infrastructure proposals, and the proposed location will depend on the burdened existing primary and secondary road network."
3. Choice of High-Growth Option.
No justification has been presented for the choice of a high growth option, other than it aligns with the ambitions of Northern Powerhouse (NP) and suits political preferences. Economic growth forecasts within GMSF seem to have been translated into housing requirements, whilst we feel urban regeneration and smaller urban extensions would be more appropriate.
4. Green Belt
The National Planning Policy Framework states that Green Belt serves ﬁve purposes. The following table shows how the High Lane site contributes to these purposes.
Green Belt purposes & How Removal of the High Lane site affects this
Check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas - Development will result in large-scale sprawl across a significant area of countryside.
Prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another - The site separates the communities of Hazel Grove, High Lane and Marple. If developed the impression will be of continuous settlement
Assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment - Almost by definition, development will result in large-scale encroachment on the countryside.
Encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land - In the absence of a defined plan or mechanism such as guaranteed funding, house builders will fail to develop derelict and other urban land.
5. The National Planning Policy Framework
a. Paragraph 84 of the National Planning Policy Framework states that 'when drawing up or reviewing greenbelt boundaries, local planning authorities should take account of the need to promote sustainable patterns of development.' However, it seems unlikely that a site with no public transport provision can be sustainable.
b. Paragraph 85 of the National Planning Policy Framework states that authorities should 'define boundaries clearly, using physical features that are readily recognisable and likely to be permanent.'. However, there are no such boundaries for the High Lane site.
6. Transport Links
As stated the A6 Buxton Road is already very busy, bringing danger, air pollution, and a difﬁcult shopping environment along the main road through the village. To the east is the narrow, badly-aligned, and speed-humped Windlehurst Road through Hawk Green to Marple. The airport relief road will provide routes to Bramhall and Poynton, but will meanwhile discharge even more trafﬁc on to the A6. It will lead to the establishment of lifestyles wholly based on the car which are unsustainable and contradictory to other elements of the Plan, including climate change. The loud anger of the residents of High Lane at their meeting in the Village Hall on 30th November was justiﬁed and heard by the elected Councillors present.
In regard to the proposed Tram/Train link, Network Rail owns the Middlewood Way, and the track bed is sound. One possible solution could be to re-lay the track to either the Sheffield line or the Buxton line and build a loop. This itself, however, presents its own issues as follows: 1) Network Rail and Greater Manchester Transport have not been consulted and do not know about the plans. Moreover, Middlewood falls outside Greater Manchester (GM) into Cheshire East, who are unhappy about the plans to build right up to their border. 2) Trams cannot be run as the lines out of Piccadilly to Rose Hill and the lines beyond Hazel Grove are not electrified, and it would cost a significant amount of money to alter.
7. Urban Regeneration
Paragraph 2.0.5 of the draft GMSF says:
‘There will be a very strong emphasis on directing new development towards locations that support urban regeneration minimise environmental impacts, reduce the need to travel, and are or can be made most accessible by public transport, cycling and walking.’
We fail to understand how this housing development in location at High Lane will achieve these aims. The existing village does not contain any pockets of declining property which might beneﬁt from redevelopment. There would be enormous environmental impact in terms of loss of Green Belt and its natural and agricultural value with great harm to the settlement of High Lane from excess trafﬁc, air pollution, and overcrowding of its facilities.
8. Duty to Co-operate
Local Planning Authorities have a statutory duty to co-operate with other local planning authorities in the preparation of development plans, and a high level of co-operation must be demonstrated to satisfy this legal test. Development plans such as GMSF can be refused by Planning Inspectors or challenged legally if the co-operation is deficient, no evidence is presented to show that the detailed discussions and internal consideration required by the ‘duty to cooperate’ have taken place. Many parts of neighbouring areas clearly have the potential to serve GM markets. For instance:
• Parts of Cheshire East are clearly within the travel-to-work area for large parts of GM, including development at Manchester airport
• Disley (part of Cheshire East) is a settlement with a railway station on the Buxton-Stockport-Manchester line, and is a clearly functionally part of the GM area.
• Wilmslow is part of the GM travel-to-work area, with many commuters to Greater Manchester
• No evidence is presented to show that neighbouring authorities cannot accommodate extra housing, or that the GM boundary represents a ‘functional economic area’ with no cross-over.
High Lane is a community united in its opposition to this massive incursion to the Borough’s greenspace and will continue to oppose the GMSF until a wholesale review is undertaken.
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