Consultations overrun as opposition to Godley Green plans grow

A petition against plans to build more than 2,300 homes on greenbelt and create the Godley Green Garden Village has now hit more than 3,500.

The growing backlash against the proposals comes following the latest online consultations to receive public feedback about the masterplan.

Tameside Council, which is spearheading the move for the development, is presently appealing for residents’ views and the deadline for those views to be considered is 5pm on Tuesday, April 5.

You can visit https://www.godleygreen.com/get-involved to provide your feedback.

The latest public consultations, held last Wednesday and Thursday online, came in the wake of growing protest by the ‘Save Tameside Greenbelt’ group, initially established to campaign against plans to build on greenbelt across Tameside revealed in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

However, the group now has a clear focus in attempting to stop the Godley Green Garden Village in its tracks and while that campaign has grown online, campaigners aim to start leafleting against the plans once lockdown is lifted.

Last week’s consultations considerably ran over their allotted time slots, such was the strength of feeling and concern raised by residents who had joined the ‘Zoom’ sessions.

Presenting the plans at the meeting were Kevin Murray Associates. The Glasgow-based consultancy firm was employed to design the 2,350 houses and infrastructure on Godley Green. 

Landscape architect, John Willerton, described the development in detail and address earlier feedback received from public meetings in February. 

He stated: “We’ll be creating a travel plan to accompany the new development, encouraging those that move there to change their behaviours and promote greener travel. 

“To assist in this, a bus interchange would be created next to Hattersley train station. There will also be six kilometres of path created in the site itself, many of these would be multi-use, for pedestrians, cyclists and horse-riders. 

“There were concerns about traffic, and there’s a traffic assessment being done now that will consider the growth of the village. 

“Issues of safety on the site were also raised, so a 20mph speed limit will be imposed, and a 30mph limit on Mottram Old Road. We think the Garden Village is going to be a real deterrent to speeding along that route.” 

However, many attending said they didn’t believe people could be persuaded to be more climate conscious travellers, and some feared the plans  missed the point entirely. 

Access and traffic issues affecting the wider area, including Woodley, Hyde, Denton and Bredbury were raised. 

The plans illustrate three access points from Godley Green Garden Village onto Mottram Old Road which are presently planned as give-way junctions. 

More than 4,000 cars could be expected once the proposed properties are filled, the consultation heard, leaving many of those listening sceptical about the validity of the junctions. 

Green Lane in Hyde also became a contested issue. It’s connection to Godley Green means there’s an opportunity for the council to improve and re-surface it, but there was confusion about whether it would be a vehicle access point to the site. 

Developers told residents they would have to ‘re-look’ at it, but described it as being an ‘important route, especially for people to cycle through the site’. 

Head of Urban Design, Andy Roberts, spoke about the logistics of the site. 

He added: “One of the queries raised is about whether putting in cycling routes will encourage local people to cycle. There’s lots of good evidence to suggest putting in new cycling infrastructure will result in better use. 

“The first study of this was done in Cambridge, which showed an 85 per cent increase in cycling was due to new infrastructure put in place.” 

However, that view came under fire, with critics pointing out Cambridge is a totally different city to that of Hyde.

The developers are believed to have accounted for the hilly land in Godley, by using steep slope cycle paths, but attendees persisted in making the point that Cambridge has a long history of cycling, which Hyde does not. 

Chris Peacock, from Pea Green Environmental Planning, then took over to touch on biodiversity and flooding risk on the site. 

He said: “The undulating nature of the site drains to a number of water courses within it. That means we can make use of some of those natural paths to create a comprehensive drainage strategy. In many ways, we’ll remedy some of the issues of localised flooding through the drainage process.” 

However one resident stated there had been flooding issues at another development in Hyde and work was still ongoing to rectify the problems.

There were also questions about the protection of local wildlife with concern about what would happen to existing wildlife, including a pond that is home to the great crested newt. 

Chris replied: “The strategy is to protect and retain habitats wherever possible. Obviously, this is a development, so there are elements to this that won’t be possible. 

“The land to the south of Mottram Old Road is going to be used for ecological enhancement. We’re also looking at a ‘District Licensing’ arrangement with Natural England regarding some of the species, particularly the great crested newt.” 

Kevin Murray Associates predicts 56 per cent of the site is going to be green infrastructure, in an attempt to keep its rural character, and 55 per cent of the total site area will become accessible public open space. 

Danny Cullinane pointed out: “It’s not just about accessibility to land, it is about the sense of open space and views that do not feature houses.” 

Discussions ran over the meeting’s allotted end time, as more disgruntled residents spoke to challenge the developers. 

Afterwards, many said they felt unsatisfied with the answers they had received. 

One stated: “Town centres should be re-purposed to deliver increasing housing densities instead of being left to rot. It’s shameful to build on green belt. It’s being sacrificed when there are opportunities to breathe new life into our town centres.”

The ‘Save Tameside Greenbelt’ group is continuing to appeal for people to sign the petition at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-the-greenbelt-in-hyde-godley-green

 The consultation presentation - minus residents’ views - can be viewed at https://www.godleygreen.com/

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