THOUSANDS of campaigners came together to send a defiant and united message to Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, and Oldham Council – ‘leave our greenbelt alone.’
An estimated 4,000 protestors marched to Tandle Hill monument in a mass show of defiance to proposals in the GM Spatial Framework.
They came, young and old, from ‘save our greenbelt’ groups across Oldham and Rochdale walking side by side to raise awareness of their fight to protect treasured open space.
Despite an atrociously wet and windy morning numbers on the march were more than 1,000 up on the previous protest walk 12 months earlier.
Groups representing Royton, Shaw, Crompton, Beal Valley, Milnrow and Newhey converged on Thornham St James’ junior school for a photo call before continuing their march to Tandle Hill.
Oldham West and Royton MP, Jim McMahon, plus local OMBC and Parish Councillors, were also in attendance.
The Save our Royton greenbelt group estimates 80 percent of all scheduled greenbelt building in Oldham will be in and around Royton.
The group’s website states: “By considering the locality of the allocations, we see Royton’s allocations account for about one third of all the allocation plots in the borough. This doesn’t tell the full story.
“Many of the allocations lie on the Royton border (such as Beal Valley, Broadbent Moss and Cowlishaw) which will invariably have an impact on Royton’s infrastructure.
“In fact, by considering those allocations that transgress Royton’s border along with those allocations within Royton we see they account for 3,250 of the 4,050 plots—80 percent of all of Oldham MB’s greenbelt plots.
“Obviously, the location of these new builds will have a significant effect on the local population size, which will in turn impact on local infrastructure and public services.”
It’s also claimed just five wards will account for one tenth of all the greenbelt loss in Greater Manchester.
Across Oldham MB, 352 hectares of greenbelt will be built on. Royton will lose 68 ha of greenbelt but Shaw and Crompton will forfeit 143 ha.
After incorporating Saddleworth’s 10 ha of greenbelt the net loss of will be 342 ha across Oldham. Royton, Shaw & Crompton and Chadderton North (44 ha) will lose 255 ha of greenbelt between them accounting for approximately 75 percent of Oldham’s greenbelt loss and over 10 percent of the Greater Manchester total.
A Freedom of Information request from a local resident to Oldham Council has now revealed 1,167 properties in Oldham have been registered as empty for two years or more. That figure includes 86 in the Royton area and 84 in Shaw.
Noel Mahon from Save Royton Greenbelt group told the Correspondent: “The march was a great success with 4,000 residents turning out in dreadful weather conditions.
“It shows the depth of feeling amongst local people for their precious greenbelt.
“We met with Oldham Council leader, Cllr Sean Fielding, and have had some positive dialogue with him and his team about efforts to find alternatives to building on the greenbelt.
“He promised to give serious thought to our suggestions and we hope to have follow-up talks with him following the close of this consultation.
“Our message is now to encourage people to get their comments and objections into the GMSF before the deadline of 23.59pm on Monday, March 18.
“They can learn more about the proposals and how to respond on our website
“Following this consultation, the GMSF will review all the responses they receive and consider how they need to revise the plan in light of what people have said.”