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Oldham to build 11,500 new homes as part of controversial housing plan

More than 11,500 new homes are due to be built in Oldham by 2037 as part of a hotly debated Greater Manchester housing plan. After a decade of discussions, the council voted to accept the ‘Places for Everyone’ (PfE) plan at a full council meeting. 

The planning framework aims to help local authorities meet national housing targets and give councils more say over where and how projects are built. But the scheme sparked a backlash from councillors worried about construction on greenbelt land and missing infrastructure to support the house-building boom. 

Elaine Taylor, deputy leader in charge of housing and licensing, told the LDRS: “The adoption of the Places for Everyone plan marks an important stage in the next steps to build much-needed quality, affordable homes the borough desperately needs. 

“This brownfield first plan secures land allocations in the borough for the next 15 years. We’re creating jobs, vibrant neighbourhoods and protecting our environment and green spaces so that our town and future generations can get on and do well.”

She added: “Our focus is on building the right type of homes to help people get their first foot on the property ladder, downsize in older age or buy their next family home.”

Oldham became the fifth place to accept the plan, which is being considered in nine boroughs across Greater Manchester. Stockport left the PfE scheme, previously known as the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, in 2020 over similar greenbelt concerns. 

At the meeting, Lib Dem councillors called for Oldham to do the same but the suggestion was rejected. 

Coun Howard Sykes, leader of the Lib Dems, believed PfE “will do nothing to tackle the housing crisis in Oldham”. 

He said: “Expensive luxury housing on our greenbelt is not the answer for our families and young people struggling to get onto the housing ladder.” 

The party wanted to see Oldham follow Stockport’s example, who left the PfE – previously known as the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework – in 2020. 

Dave Arnott, the Conservative Royton North councillor, supported the idea: “If you build on greenbelt, you will never get it back, you cannot unbuild it for your kids and your grandkids.”

The council has reduced the amount of development taking place on greenbelt land compared to an initial PfE proposal by more than 20 pc. Members of Cabinet argued the framework actually protected against “ad hoc planning applications” by providing tougher regulation on non-designated areas.

Elaine Taylor, deputy leader in charge of housing and licensing, said: “PfE is a brownfield development led plan with over 80 percent of proposed new development in Oldham to be built on land that is not currently within the greenbelt.

“We are only releasing enough greenbelt land to ensure we can fully meet our housing and employment needs. 

“We can’t just wish houses into existence. We have a duty to provide the housing that our residents so desperately need while protecting the borough from uncontrolled development.”

Seven sites have been cut from the original PfE plan; Kingsway South, High Crompton Broad, Hanging Chadder, Bardsley Vale, Spinners way, Thornham Old Road and two allocations in Woodhouses. The amount of land being made available in Stake Hill, Chew Brook Vale and Coal Pit lane has also been reduced. 

Yet sites such as Stakehill, Beal Valley and Bottom Field Farm are still on the list for new builds, with projects such as Atom Valley already underway. Just under 20 pc of the sites for new housing and office space will be on greenbelt land. 

The motion passed with 32 votes for and 26 against.

 

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