Green belt campaigners to march on Manchester

By Gary Carter

CARRBROOK will be represented at a protest meeting against plans to build on green belt land across Greater Manchester. 

And Correspondent readers have been asked to add their voices to the campaign.

Thousands of people are expected to gather in Manchester city centre on April 1 to register their opposition to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

Under the proposed scheme, hundreds of properties may be built at Sidebottom Fold Farm, which would effect the whole area.

Opposition to the plan is growing, especially because of concerns over the effect such a development would have on traffic.

Other worries include the loss of valuable green belt land that dominates the view above the school and recreation centre at Copley.

Recent floods also highlighted how vital the loss of land can be when it comes to water running off the hills.

Carrbrook based councillor Clive Patrick will be in the crowd as part of the delegation against plans in Stalybridge. Now he wants people from the area to join him.

He said: “I would like to encourage as many of the readers of this newspaper as possible to come to the march.

“Perhaps 100 per cent of those of you reading this have some sort of investment in the place we live.

“Some investment may be financial some might be just emotional, but what happens to our green belt should be important to everyone.

“It is our countryside that makes this country admired around the world. In the case of Sidebottom Fold it may be the moorland that protects the communities in the valley below from flooding.

“So join me on April 1 and make the 10 leaders of the 10 Authorities the April Fools.”

More than 30 campaigning groups have been invited to the rally in Manchester.

“I will be there joining in the protest, shouting, ‘Save our Sidebottom Fold green belt,’ added Cllr Patrick.

The formal consultation period on the first draft of the GMSF ended on January 16.

More drafts and consultations may be produced before a final document, which officials say will map out the future for the Greater Manchester area.

Officially, the plan will help deliver over the next 20 years, ‘continued sustainable economic growth, creating more jobs and new homes for the people of Greater Manchester.’

Tameside Council states: “The 10 local authorities in Greater Manchester are working together on a joint plan called the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF).

“This is being prepared to ensure that new homes and jobs are provided in the right places with the transport (roads, rail, Metrolink) and infrastructure to support the communities and manage growth sustainably.

However, Sidebottom Fold, as well as other sites in and around the area, are under threat of being developed for housing or businesses.

It is expected rows will continue for some time, with even Andy Burnham, Labour’s candidate to become elected mayor of Greater Manchester, hitting out.

He said: “Whilst it is not possible to develop an ambitious 20-year plan for Greater Manchester without losing green space, it is clear that many communities feel strongly that the plan as currently drafted is unfair and disproportionate.

“As a result, it could diminish quality of life in some communities and restrict people’s access to good air and green space.

“The plan needs to be rebalanced to respond to these concerns and demonstrate a commitment to sustainable development.

“I would go further and propose that we consider the aim of no net loss of green belt.”


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