A developer has been accused of 'a cynical ploy' after changing its controversial plans to expand a business park into the green belt.
Commercial property giant Quorum has amended its proposals for a 1.25m sq ft extension of Bredbury Industrial Estate in order to ‘fast track’ two of the proposed 25 units.
The application initially sought ‘outline’ planning permission for the scheme, which establishes the right to develop the site in principle, subject to more detailed plans getting the green light further down the line.
But it has now been revised to seek full permission to build two of the units – which would boast 430,000 sq ft between them – at the Tame Valley site, near the border of Stockport and Tameside.
Quorum says this is in response to ‘market conditions’, citing a ‘high level of occupier interest in the plans’ for what has been dubbed Bredbury Gateway.
A spokesman said: “By submitting detailed plans for two units, the process of converting market interest into confirmed occupiers will be fast-tracked and help to provide some certainty around the site.”
But opponents of the scheme fear granting the two units approval – separate from the rest of the scheme – could be the thin end of the wedge, and want the plans considered in their entirety.
Among them are Hazel Grove MP William Wragg and Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, who are both urging residents to ‘restate their opposition to the development’.
Mr Wragg says his objection to developing on a green belt site while the region’s development plan is yet to be finalised still stands.
And he accused Quorum of trying to wear residents down by resubmitting different variations on what is essentially the same scheme.
He said: “It’s a very short deadline (for objections) and I’m told all the previous comments and representations to the planning department apparently won’t stand. It will be treated as a fresh application.
“It’s reliant on people making the same representations as they did previously, as it’s the third iteration.
“I think over time the attrition effect has seen the number of residents responding diminish each time.
“I put that down to the fact that, quite understandably, they think they have already made an objection so each time it results in fewer complaints.
“It seems quite a cynical ploy to be making the application in this way.”
Mr Gwynne (pictured above) has also been a fierce critic of the scheme and is demanding the plans are considered in their totality, rather than allowing Quorum to split their application into a ‘hybrid’.
He said: “It is essential that the units specifically proposed in the updated application aren’t considered in isolation. These units represent just the start of an incremental process and Stockport Council needs to make a decision based on the overall outline proposal.
“As Tameside Council outlined in its submission to the initial planning application, there is ample employment land available across Greater Manchester – including at Ashton Moss – for this use without the need to encroach on greenbelt in the Tame Valley.”
And, like Mr Wragg, he urged residents to again make their feelings known.
In a post on his website he said: “Whether or not you submitted your comments to Stockport Council last year, I would strongly encourage you to reassert your objections to the Bredbury Parkway development – on the impact on the greenbelt, air quality, noise nuisance in the Tame Valley, protection of the river valley, the detrimental effect to the leisure amenity to Haughton Dale and Hulmes Wood nature reserve, increased traffic on Ashton Road in Stockport and Stockport Road in Denton – and the particular impact in Denton as a result of the low bridge.”
Quorum declined to comment directly on criticisms made by Mr Wragg and Mr Gwynne, but said they were in talks with the two MPs.
The planning application – which also includes proposals to widen Bredbury Parkway and relocate its junction with Ashton Road – is set to go before Stockport council’s planning and highways committee in April.
The deadline for representations in support or against the application is Saturday, March 7.
An aerial image of the proposed Bredbury Gateway site.