Councillor fears new planning rules a concern for Saddleworth

Saddleworth North Liberal Democrat Councillor Garth Harkness has expressed concerns about the likely negative impact of Boris Johnson’s new White Paper ‘Planning for the Future’, which the Conservatives claim will represent the most radical changes to our planning system since the Second World War. 

Councillor Harkness said: “We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, but this Conservative legislation will do nothing for our green and pleasant land.”

Under the Conservative plan, central government will designate whole swathes of the country for ‘growth’, meaning that developers will have ‘planning permission in principle’. Conservative ministers claim it will eliminate ‘red tape’ but the Liberal Democrats fear that it abolish any meaningful involvement of local councils and residents in planning matters.

Councillor Garth Harkness said “I already have a lot of residents tell me of their frustrations that planning applications which should be classed as inappropriate development are now allowed under permitted development rights. Relaxing the regulations further will only have a negative impact on areas like Saddleworth”.

“The National Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Wildlife Trusts have warned that wide-scale deregulation in planning which will lead to lower environmental standards.”

“Meanwhile, Greater Manchester’s Labour Mayor is about to bring out a revised Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF).

Councillor Garth Harkness said  “As local people know only too well,  Labour’s plan will cover vast tracts of green land in Saddleworth and elsewhere with houses and industry. Disregard for protected land has already been seen in Grotton, Crompton and Moorside recently. The government plan will make it much harder to resist. We need to pull out of the GMSF and adopt out own plans. I urge people to get involved when consultation starts”.

In order to fulfil housing targets previously developed land will need to be utilised further.

Councillor Garth Harkness said: “An example of the difficulties with building on previous developed land is Bailey Mill in Delph. I have pushed for Bailey Mill to be demolished and re-developed for many years and I know that the owners and local residents very much share my frustrations.

“It is clearly cheaper to build on green space. The government promised Greater Manchester a pot of money to help build on previously developed land, and then broke that promise. My colleagues and I campaigned for the funding to be restored, and now finally the Government has reinstated a Brownfield Fund, but it will be distributed across the country. It is nowhere near enough, but the Liberal Democrats will nonetheless be fighting to get a share of this pot, and if we are successful I will certainly make the case for some of it to be spent in making Bailey Mill ready for development.”

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