Employment areas pinpointed as local plan weakness

Transforming Oldham’s economic fortunes should be the number one priority of Oldham Council, which is why it is alarming that the local plan consultation has failed to update the Business Employment Areas from the previous local plan, says Liberal Democrat Councillor Mark Kenyon.

The shadow cabinet member for economy and enterprise highlighted the inclusion of the new Saddleworth School site in the list of Saddleworth Employment Areas – which was taken directly from the previous local plan without being updated.

“There are locations across Saddleworth, and the wider borough, which have thrived in the years since the previous local plan, and we should be identifying those for support, as well as those locations which will be the next successes in the local economy.

“The economic landscape of Oldham has changed so much since its industrial heyday, which is why it is vital the mills policy is at the heart of its regeneration. That could be using those sites for new housing, or transforming it into new employment sites.

“I’m wondering how much real focus there is on local employment and businesses when a designated employment area has actually been earmarked for housing for at least ten years – did no one notice?”

As well as calling for new Business Employment Areas to be identified to replace those which have already been turned over to new uses, the Liberal Democrats have responded to the consultation calling for an expansion in the number of target areas.

Mark continued: “Whilst our industrial heritage is something that we should be proud of, pride doesn’t pay the bills so the local plan must help the next generation of businesses thrive. There are growing industries, such as environmental technologies, which are huge opportunities for towns such as ours.

“The Liberal Democrats put forward plans for a coalmine heating system which would see the town at the forefront of this technology worldwide. Putting forward innovative technology like that requires a thriving support network of businesses. Let’s drive forward innovation as a Council by taking forward these schemes, and by providing a platform for local businesses to take advantage of them.”

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