Bosses have taken the first steps towards breaking ground on the controversial Godley Green ‘garden village’ project.
Tameside’s executive cabinet has backed entering into an agreement to use £10 million of grant funding from Homes England for the 2,350 homes masterplan in Hyde’s green belt.
The Godley Green garden village proposal, which has been backed by MP Jonathan Reynolds, is part of the second draft of the Greater Manchester spatial framework (GMSF).
It went out to consultation earlier this year but has been delayed yet again, with no final draft now due to come forward before next year’s May local elections.
But in Tameside, chiefs are already taking steps to progress the Godley Green plan which makes up a large proportion of their allocation for green belt development under the GMSF.
Members signed off on the use of £720k of the Homes England grant towards development costs to get the project to the construction stage, with a further £940k to be funded separately from the council’s own coffers.
But officers say there is ‘significant risk and challenge in this project’, and there is no legal certainty the council has the powers to deliver it.
According to Homes England, the current deadline for delivery of the infrastructure is March 2022.
If the proposals have to be abandoned the council is on the line to pay ‘abortive costs’ of up to £720k – which would have been spent designing the detail of the proposed infrastructure, including access road and roundabouts.
Cabinet member for finance, Councillor Oliver Ryan said: “We are committed to developing brownfield sites wherever possible.
“We are also committed to guaranteeing an adequate housing supply and jobs in Tameside which can’t be accomplished from building on brownfield sites alone.
“Godley Green is an ideal site in Tameside that has the potential to deliver up to 25 pc of the council’s housing requirements.
“The vision is to create a vibrant, sustainable new community based on established garden village principles, which will satisfy the needs of current and future households across the spectrum of housing types and tenures.
“Adopting garden village principles will see the creation of a new green and open space linked to the existing countryside.”
Entering into the grant agreement with Homes England at the ‘earliest opportunity’ would allow them to ‘crack on’ and turn their ambition into reality, he concluded.
Godley Green is one of 133 council-led projects under the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund which is targeting 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.
The development would be located between Glossop railway line and the A560 Mottram Old Road, south east of Hyde.
Currently the site is mostly open fields and includes Godley Brook, Werneth Brook and Brookfold Wood.
It is in the ownership of 19 landowners, with the council owning 8.6 hectares in the south east corner of the site.
New roads, cycle paths, pedestrian access to Hattersley and Hyde Godley railway stations, a health centre, primary school and shops are also planned.
It’s estimated that if completed, the new village could generate an additional £3.5m a year in council tax for the town hall, as well as additional business rates.
Director of growth, Jayne Traverse added: “It’s really positive, really good news.”
But she said the milestones set by Homes England were ‘very challenging’, particularly around the planning application which would need to be submitted.
Council leader Brenda Warrington added: “Certainly the Godley Green proposal has been around for quite a long time, I think it’s pleasing to know that we’re now starting to move forward with this.”