Plea for Tameside Council to buy back Backfield

CAMPAIGNERS have delivered a 530-name petition urging Tameside Council to buy back a plot of land in Ashton which is earmarked for housing.

Save the Backfield Facebook group wants the 0.9-acre site at Grove Street, Waterloo, returned to residents as a children’s play area and public open space as it was designated in 1980.

Susan Broadbent and Cllr Lee Huntbach delivering the petition

As soon as developer Darson Homes decided not to build on Backfield – they had planning permission for five detached houses – and sell on the land, residents launched the petition which was signed by 530 residents in the space of the last week.

They are calling on Councillor Brenda Warrington, Tameside Council’s executive leader, and Steven Pleasant, Tameside Council chief executive, to use their powers to re-purchase the land.

But they say time is of the essence as the land is due to auctioned within days by Edward Mellor with bidding opening on November 3 and closing 24 hours later with offers opening at £270,000.

This land, known to residents as ‘Backfield’, is integral to the design of the neighbourhood.

It was designated a children’s play area when the Leech Homes Estate was built in 1980. There is no road access to Backfield which can only be reached on foot, by a series of public footpaths making it the perfect place for generations of children to play in a safe environment close to home.

Backfield which is earmarked for homes

Residents were happy to fund this piece of land in the purchase price of their house as Tameside Council had made it a condition of planning permission that it was to be a ‘kickabout’ area. This is how it was described in the original estate plans.

But in 2017 Tameside Council sold the land to Darson Homes of Halifax and planning permission granted in December 2018 despite strong opposition from residents and a covenant being placed on the land.

They claimed it is impossible to safely build five detached houses on a piece of land with no road access and which is crossed by two very well used public footpaths.

Once the development is completed, they claimed Grove Street will effectively be joined with Lindisfarne Road making it a through road. Traffic will then be able to travel directly from Lord Sheldon Way to Newmarket Road, making it a rat-run’.

David and Susan Broadbent, who delivered the petition along with Waterloo councillor Lee Huntbach, set up the Facebook group almost four years ago to oppose development of the green space.

Campaigner Susan Broadbent with the petition at Backfield

This is the third petition which has been organised in that period with two submitted to Tameside Council and one to the Secretary of State for Housing.

The group has also applied for the land to become an asset of community value which would give residents the first opportunity to buy it.

The application will not be processed in time to delay the auction, but David is hoping by making the application it may dissuade potential buyers from bidding.

“We have battled for the last four years and it is a matter which has provoked very strong feelings. All we want is to be treated fairly,” he said.

A Tameside Council spokesperson said: “We understand the strength of feeling among some members of the local community about the land remaining undeveloped.

“However, the council does not have the necessary resources to buy back the land and, additionally, even if we did have the resources the purchase would not meet the test of value for money – the council has no operational or other need for this land so it is likely that our external auditors would regard the transaction as unlawful.

“The issue has been fully investigated by the ombudsman who says the council has dealt with the matter properly.

“Our approach of selling unused land and assets is necessary to help support and fund our capital programme and particularly fund much needed facilities for the borough.”

10 Replies to “Plea for Tameside Council to buy back Backfield”

  1. What an excellent article. The planning authority in Tameside seem to be a law unto themselves. This land should never have been considered for sale, it was always a public open space. The only way houses could be built in this small space, would be if the fully built houses had been dropped in by helicopter. Return this space to the residents who have used it apparently fir forty years.

  2. The council have now been given the chance to admit there wrong doings by initially selling this land. The council have ignored the very people who they serve. The people who put them in power. If ever a time was right to allow our children the space to play is now ( and that space is what you have taken away from them) Life is is on a knife edge for our children and they need to be able to play and express themselves. The health and wellbeing of our children has never been more apparent than it is right now. Give the people and children back the land which was rightfully there’s in the first place.

  3. ….and yet TMBC are pushing through housing on similar green spaces across the borough misusing brownfield regeneration grants. This council is despicable, militant and has no regard for the voice of local community.

    Brownfield and town centre regeneration needs to be the focus of addressing both housing and economical needs .

    These small pockets of green space should have nothing more than trees planted.

  4. Please leave our field alone. We need green space especially now life is not good for all of us with covid-19. Some where to walk safely and enjoy the space. And try and get some fresh air and see other people walking there dogs. We all need time for us.

  5. If ” Residents were happy to fund this piece of land in the purchase price of their house as Tameside Council had made it a condition of planning permission that it was to be a ‘kickabout’ area. This is how it was described in the original estate plans “. How can TMBC sell something they dont technically own?

  6. Wrong on so many levels. The Council is no stranger to selling public land. They sold the site of the Riverside Walk in Stalybridge secretly and in my view illegally. They should be reported to the LA Ombudsman for all their illegal land dealing and our MP should hang his head in shame for not exposing TMBC for the rotten borough it is it is.

    1. Robert: The Local Government Ombudsman is a useless quango. It was formed to protect Local Authorities rather than act as intermediators. They act on behalf of the LA and often are on first name terms with the senior officers, Borough Solicitor’s and people that they are supposed to be investigating. Have a look at their own records. They have a successful “find against” rate of 4%, that’s 96% of complaints that there must have had some substance, to initially make the complaint and to fill in the endless forms to instigate the complaint. The only way we can get true resolve on many of these problems is to hold your Councillors accountable and vote with your feet. Tameside Council have the unenviable name known on the circuits as SHAMESIDE. They should hang their heads in shame, as one previous correspondent remarked. Perhaps it is time to have another political party in power.

      1. Peter, your comments are spot on from our experience, from our experience of three referrals to the Local Government Ombudsman. They are ex-local government employees rather than independent legal solicitors such as the Energy Ombudsman.

  7. Looking into Darson Homes business and nothing really comes up on google. Do they actually exist as a registered company?

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