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OLDHAM: Home to be built on ‘birth place of female suffrage’ rejected by Oldham Council

A group of residents rejoiced after plans to build a new home in their ‘iconic’ village were thrown out by Oldham council.

The house in Lydgate would have caused ‘catastrophic effects’ to the ‘beautiful views and historic value’ of the village, according to local councillors. 

The site on Stockport Road borders on greenbelt land and is part of a ‘historic field’ recently recognized with a blue plaque as a ‘birthplace of female suffrage’. Similar plans were rejected on the site on three previous occasions but were this time recommended for approval by council officers at a planning meeting on June 5 . 

But local councillor Helen Bishop butted heads with planning officers and said: “Within this borough we potentially have the birth of suffrage of women having the vote. 

“Wouldn’t it be nice for us to preserve that and for us to be able to celebrate that? This borough does have a place in history – of struggle, of new ideas and of progress. And that’s what we want to retain.”

Officers argued that because the plans no longer included any of the greenbelt land for development, as in previous proposals, the council no longer had grounds upon which to refuse the construction. 

But a previous planning proposal had gone all the way to the planning inspectorate – who represent the Secretary of State for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in planning matters. Planning inspector Frances Cullen had deemed that ‘any residential development’ on the site would ‘detract from the historic value’ and ‘impact the conservation area’. 

Bishop added: “She didn’t say ‘except for that little bit at the end there’ – she said any residential development.” 

Jennifer Greenwood, who lives in Lydgate, said the community would be ‘devastated’ if the house was approved. 

She said: “Lydgate is a tiny hamlet with a visual openness that can be viewed from every aspect … from it you can see Manchester, Oldham and even the hills of Wales.

“These views would be lost forever and would set a precedent for other parts of the borough.” 

The proposal was unanimously rejected. The developer will be able to put in an appeal, which would go back to the planning inspectorate.

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