Shaw and Crompton short-changed for third time in Labour’s Green Belt homes plan

Liberal Democrat Councillors on Oldham Council remain bitterly opposed to Labour’s latest version of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework which has just been unveiled and will go before a special Council meeting to be held on Wednesday 28 October, prior to being open to public consultation.

In this third version of their plan to build new homes, which forms part of the wider Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF), Oldham Council’s Labour Administration has removed proposals to build on Green Belt sites in Royton North Ward, Failsworth East Ward and St James Ward, but have retained plans to build almost 1,000 new homes on Green Belt and green space sites in Cowlishaw and in the Beal Valley.

Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, who is the Leader of the Opposition and represents Shaw, said: “Whilst we welcome the change of heart of this Administration in moving more homes from Green Belt sites elsewhere in the Borough onto Brownfield sites in the town centre or onto former mill sites, which has been something the Liberal Democrats have been advocating from the beginning, it is notable that no effort has been expended in extending this courtesy to Crompton and Shaw. Building on the Green Belt is deeply unpopular amongst voters, and Labour have clearly one eye on next May’s local elections.”

Howard Sykes

Liberal Democrat Councillors remain opposed to building on the Green Belt. As Councillor Sykes explains: “Thanks to the lack of investment over many years by Oldham’s Labour Council, we have lost our baths, our municipal tip and our youth centre; our primary schools are oversubscribed; our health centre is in desperate need of replacement; and our once-thriving market is on its last legs.”

“Imagine then building almost 1,000 more homes, mostly for families, on Green Belt sites on the edge of our town centre. Where will their children go to school and what doctors’ surgery will they be able to attend, if we have insufficient provision for our existing residents? There is no promise within this plan of a large injection of cash for new school places and a much-needed new health centre.”

The Liberal Democrats believe that there are enough Brownfield sites to accommodate any necessary new housing, and that new homes should be in Oldham town centre and other district centres to help inject some life back into them.”

Councillor Sykes concluded: “Quite simply it makes more sense to build in Oldham. Offices and shops there are likely to remain empty and unused following the Covid-19 pandemic as people abandon the daily commute and the high street in increasing numbers, and we are therefore going to see the death of Oldham town centre unless it is revitalised. Building homes there will not only help sustain the retail economy but it will revive the night-time economy as well.”

“In addition, the town centre is also far better served by public transport links to enable residents to access employment, education and healthcare, and there are two local colleges on the doorstep, and existing plans to build a new town centre secondary school.”

Oldham Liberal Democrats will be opposing Labour’s Greater Manchester Spatial Framework at the special Council meeting on 28 October.

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