A petition against plans to build the Godley Green Garden Village has now surpassed 3,000 signatures.
Members of the Save Tameside Greenbelt group are campaigning online against the plans to build more than 2,300 homes on a swathe of greenbelt across Hyde between Hattersley and Godley.
The campaign against the plans comes as Tameside Council, which is spearheading the move for the development, holds a number of public consultations.
Due to Covid restrictions, these have been taking place online, with the latest having been held on Wednesday and Thursday this week. The authority has stated it wanted to offer people the opportunity to give their views on the proposed new development.
The council argues the ‘green village’ plan is designed to meet demand for homes, jobs and associated facilities in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way.
It will deliver up to 2,350 low-carbon homes in safe, walkable neighbourhoods with a range of types, including flats, starter homes, larger family homes, extra-care provision, custom and self-build homes.
The council states the design and layout of Godley Green will correspond to a masterplan and specific design code that supports established garden village principles to ensure the existing communities at Godley Green and the landscape are integrated sensitively.
But the scale of the development and loss of greenbelt has sparked a backlash among campaigners.
The protest group - Save Tameside Greenbelt - was initially established back in 2016 to campaign for the protection of greenbelt in the wake of the initial Greater Manchester Spacial Framework.
Now the group is operating online to raise awareness of the plans, arguing there simply isn’t the infrastructure in transport or services to accommodate such a development and the cost to the greenbelt and wildlife would be too much, stating new homes should be built on brownfield sites first.
The group has gathered more than 3,200 signatures against the plans.
While the group can’t repeat the marches staged back in 2016 and 2017, when hundreds took to the streets to protest against homes being built on greenbelt, they do not rule out a repeat once Covid lockdown restrictions are relaxed.
For now, members of the group have also been sending letters of protest to Hyde and Stalybridge MP Jonathan Reynolds.
Last week, we reported how Chair of Hyde Conservatives and resident of Godley, Andrea Colbourne, had accused the MP of letting down thousands of his constituents by supporting the green village plan.
In her letter, she stated: “I don’t believe you are listening to thousands of your constituents who are up in arms over these plans.
“The bad weather, which is typical for this area, has caused flooding in Tameside. The greenbelt fields are waterlogged already, there’s nowhere for the water to go – how do you propose that this will go away once 2,350 houses are going to be built on it?”
The letter inspired other members in the Facebook group to contact him to address similar concerns.
Emma Galley sent a letter reading: “In the Houses of Parliament on March 3, a day you were in attendance, Boris Johnson, in response to Mike Wood from the Dudley Council, stated: “We will protect our vital greenbelt, which I think constitutes 12.4 per cent of our land. We can build homes as my hon. friend rightly suggests – 300,000 of them on brownfield sites across the country.
“Why, if Boris Johnson has made this statement, a country-wide instruction, are you and other Tameside councillors still pushing funds into the development at Godley?
“The most recent published Tameside Brownfield Land Register is the 31 December 2020 register, which identifies land with the potential to deliver 3,842 net additional dwellings across 69 hectares of brownfield land across the borough.
“Why, as per Boris Johnson instruction, is the brownfield land not being facilitated first?”
Mr Reynolds replied in a letter on March 18 with many members of the group also receiving identical responses which they have posted on the group page.
In his letter, the MP states: “The problem across Greater Manchester is that there are insufficient brownfield sites to meet housing demand over the next 20 years. It is because of this shortfall between our available brownfield sites and our housing needs that any consideration of greenbelt release can take place.
“Brownfield sites are central to the plans that have been drawn up for Tameside, with a particular focus on town centre development, which I strongly support.
“But unfortunately we do not have enough brownfield sites to provide everything we need.
“Housing development is unpopular. Some of this popularity is unreasonable, as we all need somewhere to live, but I also recognise there are completely understandable reasons for it. New housing brings increased traffic and greater competition for school places and local health services.
“It is for that reason that I believe, in order to meet the Government’s national housing targets, we should try something very different.
“We must try and address the legitimate concerns about the pressures new housing creates and ensure new housing comes with new services and infrastructure alongside it.
“I see Godley Green Garden Village as a means of approaching the housing targets set by the government in a much stronger way, with environmental sustainability at its core to produce a genuine mix of housing types.
“I think this is vastly superior to a lot of generic developer estates being delivered without any infrastructure or public say in what type of housing is built.
“It is only through local authority-led planning that infrastructure demands of building new homes, roads, public transport, schools and health services can be met at the same time.”
He added: “The accessibility of public transport was a significant factor embedded into the initial design for Godley Green Garden Village.
“The most prominent aspect of this is the site’s adjacency with Hattersley train station.
“The development will be phased over a significant period of time and includes significantly improving the capacity of the station (including the extension of the platform) as and when the appropriate trigger points are reached.
“Local bus services would also be improved to support the development, and in addition, the Mottram bypass should be completed in the next few years.”
• You can find out more about the Godley Green Garden Village development at https://www.godleygreen.com/
• To support the Save Tameside Greenbelt petition you can go to https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-the-greenbelt-in-hyde-godley-green
• To find out more about the Save Tameside Greenbelt group you can visit their Facebook page at https://en-gb.facebook.com/groups/1281748225189552/