OLDHAMERS joined hundreds of residents as they turned Albert Square, Manchester, into a bastion of defiance against controversial plans to build on the green belt.
A rallying cry rang out last week as Save Greater Manchester’s Green Belt (SGMGM) urged people to join the Albert Square rally on Saturday in opposition to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) plans.
The calls were answered and more than 1.000 objectors from across Greater Manchester united to make their feelings known. Banners and flags were held aloft, chants and calls were made, the message was clear…’do not build on the green belt.’
The protest follows a host of successful local group rallies, and tens of thousands of objections to the draft plans – Greater Manchester’s development blueprint for the next 20 years.
The proposals show the building of 225,000 new homes, and millions of square metres given to office and industrial space – sparking widespread negative feedback for building on protected green belt.
Oldham will see 13,700 new homes built and 700,000 square metres of land made available for new factories and warehouses as part of the plans.
It started the rise of protest groups in the most affected areas, including Shaw, Royton, Chadderton and Saddleworth.
At a recent Oldham Council meeting Councillor Howard Sykes, who objects to the use of green belt land, proposed a motion to see Oldham withdraw from the GMSF and create their own local plan, however an amendment by the ruling Labour group saw the borough stay in.
Steve Lord, a member of the Save Shaw’s Greenbelt, said: “It is an incredible turnout from Shaw and it just really illustrates how determined we are about fighting this spatial framework.
“We have had some incredible media coverage from people like yourselves and after speaking to someone from a pr company they said that we are winning the media battle.
“I don’t think we actually expect it to be thrown out, but in the plans it says that around 70per cent of brown field sites in Greater Manchester will be used to be built on. What we are saying is why not 90per cent or 100per cent?
“These are huge pieces of land that they are talking about building on, they are places we grew up on, were people walk dogs, go on horse and bike rides and play on. Just looking at it, it is a way of life.
“We understand the need for housing of course we do, but what we are saying is before we start building on green belt, we want them to take a real hard look at using all brownfield sites.”
Natalie Yates-Bolton, from Chadderton, who addressed the demonstration, said: “It has been incredible, a great response from the people who have come.
“It is about our long-term health and wellbeing. We hope councillors will listen because they are supposed to represent us. At the end of the day they are just ordinary people who are elected to represent us.”
A poem, written by 9-year-old Olivia Holt, from Firwood Manor, prep school, Chadderton, was read out by 11-year-old Elleisha Smith, from Bury. The poem read: “Please oh please don’t build on our belt, If you do our hearts will melt.
“All the lovely nature walks will be in the past, I am trying to enjoy the wildlife while it lasts.
“Can’t you build on the brown fields instead, so all our animals have a bed.
“Well now I should really on my way, but help us save the greenbelt today.”
No 100% percent of the brownfield sites will be used, but these can only supply 70% of housing need. So Greenfields elsewhere will be needed. Animals having a bed is emotive claptrap and Olivia your teachers at Firwood Manor Prep School should hang their heads in shame for poorly educating you. Green Belt is not about protecting wildlife, and Green fields used outside the Green Belt or even Brownfield sites might have far more wildlife value. rather it is about preventing sprawl which building beyond the Green Belt would exacerbate.