Oldham must break free of ‘artificial housing targets’ after government U-turn and save our green spaces

Oldham’s Liberal Democrat Opposition Leader councillor Howard Sykes MBE has called on Oldham’s leaders to scrap ‘artificial housing targets’. Councillor Sykes was speaking after Housing Minister, Michael Gove MP confirmed the government would be scrapping the “mandatory targets” which have led to development plans being drawn up across Greater Manchester – including plans to build on Green Belt.

Councillor Sykes said, “The government appears to have had a moment of clarity. Everyone can see that top-down housing plans are never going to work. Oldham now has an opportunity to scrap these targets which do nothing to deliver the housing we need in the places we need it. Local councils must be given the power to make the key decisions on local development. We can now save that green space for future generations to enjoy.”

Howard Sykes, looking out across Shaw

Over recent years, Oldham has been tied into Greater Manchester’s housing strategy, drawing criticism from councillors and members of the public. Most controversially, the plans – which have had different names over the years – have contained proposals to build on many Green Belt sites across Oldham Borough.

Councillor Sykes said, “Labour have always said it was the government targets forcing them to concrete over green spaces and green belt, that is no longer the case. So, the question is, will Labour now stop this land grab or come up with some other excuse for building on our green spaces.”

“All that top-down targets do is force councils to sacrifice good planning and open spaces to meet an arbitrary number of units without considering local need. What we need is the power and resources to redevelop brownfield and ex-industrial sites.”

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