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7th March 2019

Rally to protect Manchester’s green sites draws thousands

Proposals for new housing has received backlash due to the threat to Manchester’s green spaces
Rally to protect Manchester’s green sites draws thousands
Photo: XAndreWx @ Wikimedia Commons

Around 4,000 people gathered in Oldham over the weekend to rally against proposed plans to build on Manchester’s green sites.

Greenbelt land covers 47% of Greater Manchester, however, under the initiative presented, this could be cut down to 45%.

The move is part of a scheme called the Greater Manchester Spatial Network, which plans to improve the number of homes, jobs, and the environment in the region.

It was announced in January that 201,000 homes could be built in Greater Manchester to tackle the “housing crisis” by 2038.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has said that the plans are based on the assumption that 201,000 new homes will be needed between now and 2037, given current population growth predictions.

The plans follow a previous backlash against new housing being built in Greater Manchester, after a proposal, backing to 2016 for 225,000 new properties, received 27,000 responses in a consultation.

The feedback consultation for this year’s Spatial Network plans opens on the 18th of March.

A spokesperson for the GMCA has justified the plans by claiming that the board has a “legal duty to provide homes”.

“We believe that using greenbelt should always be a last resort, and we’re doing everything we can to increase the land available for development within our existing towns and neighbourhoods, while minimising the impact on our green spaces.”

Protest organiser Steve Lord has said that the need to build affordable homes is understandable, and that he agrees there is a housing crisis in Greater Manchester. However, he argued that this should not be done “at the expense of this cherished green belt.”

“It’s draconian, it’s criminal and dangerous,” he went on.

“There are so many brownfield sites in Milnrow that could provide genuine affordable houses,” said Kate Clegg, who attended the Tandle Hill Country Park rally.

“The types of houses they are building, my children won’t be able to buy when they are older.”

A green belt is an area of land that has been protected from being built on by urban planners, in an effort to maintain green spaces within towns and cities. They are also put in place to prevent the surrounding countryside being spoilt.

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