Huge housing development Chat Moss brings mixed feelings for campaigners in battle of ‘progress and preservation’

Recent decisions by planning inspectors have brought a mix of relief and disappointment for campaigners in Greater Manchester.

While the development of the Chat Moss site has been halted, other green belt areas face potential loss or deterioration, sparking debate over the balance between progress and preservation in the region’s Places for Everyone masterplan.

Axing plans to build 800 homes on peat land in the north Irlam area of Salford is a ‘mixed blessing’ according to a Greater Manchester green campaigner.

Planning inspectors reviewing the city region’s Places for Everyone (PfE) masterplan have deemed that the development of the 30 hectare site at Chat Moss, just south of the M62 must not go ahead.

Save Manchester’s Green Belt

Marj Powner, chair of the Friends of Carrington Moss, and vice-chair of both Save Greater Manchester’s Green Belt and the Community Planning Alliance, bemoaned other decisions which went against campaigners, calling the decision ‘irrational’.

“That one allocation has been removed from the plan is good news, but two others remain meaning there is the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitat,” she said, referring to Port Salford and New Carrington. “So it’s a mixed blessing as far as we are concerned.”

Chat Moss Development

Inspectors have made various modifications affecting Greater Manchester following the hearing on July 5.

They include the following sites:

  • Heywood/Pilsworth: The Inspectors require a modification to ensure ‘that the loss or deterioration of any irreplaceable habitat is avoided’
  •  East of Boothstown: The Inspectors require a similar modification to ensure ‘that the loss or deterioration of any irreplaceable habitat is avoided’
  • North of Irlam Station (Chat Moss): The Inspectors are not persuaded that the development of 800 homes here clearly outweighs the loss or deterioration of an irreplaceable habitat and suggest that the wholly exceptional reasons’ required have not been demonstrated making the allocation unsound.  It   therefore requests a modification which removes this allocation from the Plan
  • Port Salford Extension: The Inspectors believe the significant public benefits associated with this allocation would clearly outweigh the loss or deterioration of an irreplaceable habitat and that a suitable compensation strategy is capable of being delivered
  • Ashton Moss West: The allocation was found to be sound and a modification requested to ‘Use suitable construction techniques to ensure that any impact on the carbon storage function of deep peat is minimised’.
  • New Carrington: The Inspectors believe there are significant public benefits associated with the comprehensive development of this allocation and that it would clearly outweigh the loss or deterioration of an irreplaceable habitat, modifications have been requested to ensure that the effects on the deep peat would be minimised and a suitable compensation strategy is delivered.

Salford City Council

Conversely, meanwhile, Salford’s lead member for planning, transport and sustainable development at Salford City Council, Coin Mike McCusker said he was disappointed with the decision over Chat Moss while hailing the east Boothstown and Port Salford recommendations.

The Places for Everyone (PfE) masterplan of nine Greater Manchester districts (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan) for jobs, new homes, and sustainable growth.

It has been published by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.  It determines the kind of development that takes place in each borough, maximising the use of brownfield land and urban spaces while protecting Green Belt land from the risk of unplanned development.

It will also ensure all new developments are sustainably integrated into Greater Manchester’s transport network or supported by new infrastructure.

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