Councillors are finally set to vote on hugely controversial plans to build thousands of homes in the Tameside green belt next week.
The Godley Green Garden Village application for up to 2,150 homes in Hyde is due to go before the council’s planning committee on Wednesday, November 1.
2,150 new homes in Hyde
It is being recommended for approval by Tameside planning officers, subject to conditions and a referral to the Secretary of State because of the site’s green belt allocation. This is despite officers admitting that the scheme is ‘harmful by definition’ to the countryside land it is envisioned for.
Following three rounds of consultation on the scheme, there have been 4,205 letters of objection lodged, and a petition of 4,459 signatures against the development – compared to just 33 letters of support.
The Godley Green Saga
The Godley Green saga has been running on for more than five years since the site off Mottram Old Road was included as green belt land to be developed in the former Greater Manchester Spatial Framework development blueprint – now superseded by the ‘Places for Everyone’ masterplan.
Protest, Outbursts and Anger
It has been the subject of public protests, and outbursts in the council chamber and become the key issue in Hyde council wards at numerous local elections since 2018.
Despite the region’s masterplan still officially yet to be signed off, Tameside council had applied to create the huge Garden Village in October 2021, with the target date set for a local decision in the summer of 2022 before going to the government for the final say on whether to release the land from the green belt.
But a series of delays has seen the decision pushed by more than a year.
Mottram Old Road
Under the proposals, up to 2,150 homes would be built to the north of Mottram Old Road, as well as ‘local centres’ which would include up to 1,300 sq m of retail, 1,600 sq m of commercial uses and 1,000 sq m of local community uses.
There would be shops, restaurants and cafés, indoor sport and recreation facilities, medical and health services, nurseries, offices and pubs as part of the new village, the planning report states.
A Bridge to Hattersley
A bridge to Hattersley would also be built at the eastern village to provide walking and cycling access to the station and the rest of the village.
The total build would take 15 years, with around 143 homes being built each year. Planners say that ‘where possible’ demolition of existing buildings in the Hyde countryside has been avoided, but it is necessary for several buildings to be knocked down to facilitate the development.
The Godley Stud Farm
These are Godley Stud Farm, stable buildings to the northeast, Far Meadow Farm, the stable buildings of Brookfold Farm and the agricultural buildings of Greenside Farm.
If approved by the council and the Secretary of State, construction would take place in eight phases, with phase zero seeing the delivery of the access junction and initial spine road to the western village centre.
Phase one would see essential infrastructure for roads, drainage, flood basins and public open space installed and the delivery of houses, as well as ‘key community meeting facilities’ and public realm works.
The remaining phases would deliver a mix of homes, as well as additional infrastructure not put in place earlier on.
An inappropriate development?
Planning officers admit that the scheme would be ‘inappropriate development’ in the green belt, is ‘harmful by definition’, and would also have ‘minor adverse impacts’ on the highway network.
“The proposal, despite the mitigations proposed, would negatively impact both spatially and visually upon openness,” their report states.
“Additionally whilst careful consideration has been given to the landscape impacts, the landscape has a high degree of sensitivity and there will remain long-standing harm as a result of the proposal, harm which should attract moderate weight in the planning balance.”
But the report also states that there are a number of factors which meet the threshold for the ‘very special circumstances’ that allow green belt land to be lawfully developed.
The Places for Everyone Masterplan
“Whilst Places for Everyone cannot be given full weight in planning decisions, as it does not yet form part of the adopted plan for Tameside, it would be unlawful to give it no weight,” officers state.
“In favour of the proposed development, it would deliver significant socio-economic and health benefits to an area identified as one of the most deprived nationally, improving life chances, social cohesion and wider investment and these two matters individually attract substantial positive weight.
“Further, the proposal would deliver a substantial number of new homes and in particular affordable homes both of which each attract significant weight given the poor housing land supply position and historic underdelivery of affordable dwellings.
“For the above reasons, it is considered that the potential harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, together with any other harm resulting from the proposal, is clearly outweighed by the other considerations and consequentially very special circumstances exist to support the grant of planning permission, subject to appropriate conditions.”
The application for the huge development was scheduled to go before councillors just days before Christmas last year, at a planning meeting scheduled for December 21.
But after National Highways extended a holding direction on the proposals until February of this year, the decision was delayed.
The road body wanted more time to review the impact of the development on the strategic road network, and the holding direction was then extended again until May prompting a third round of consultation.
The decisive planning meeting will now take place at 10 a.m. at Guardsman Tony Downes House in Droylsden on November 1.