GREENBELT land in the Tame Valley remains earmarked for development in the revised Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, which was published on Friday, October 23.
This was disappointing for Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, and others opposing the proposed expansion of Bredbury Park Industrial Estate into currently protected land.
The main remaining issue affecting the Denton and Reddish constituency was the proposal for the expansion of Bredbury Park Industrial Estate deep into the Tame Valley.
Despite objections from residents, councillors and MPs Mr Gwynne and William Wragg, the removal of greenbelt land was included in every version of the Spatial Framework.
In the latest draft, and after objections from Tameside Council, the proposal has been shrunk and moved away from the River Tame, which is the Stockport borough boundary with Tameside.
This protects more of the Tame Valley than originally proposed but still requires land to be removed from the greenbelt.
In addition, there is a planning application for the entire site currently before Stockport Council which could be granted permission despite this change to the Spatial Framework.
Mr Gwynne said: “I welcome the recognition by Stockport Council that the original Bredbury Park Industrial Estate proposal would have a devastating impact on the Tame Valley and on Hulmes Wood and Haughton Dale Local Nature Reserves which has now led to a smaller proposal in the draft Spatial Framework going forward.
“The reduction in the allocation would now create a larger green buffer in the Tame Valley which is a welcome move forward, but my significant concerns about the need for any development here, the environmental impact on the area and the traffic problems it will create all remain unchanged.
“I’m also extremely worried that there is still a live planning application for the entirety of the site which could be granted approval before any changes to the Spatial Framework in 2022 in which case the ‘smaller allocation’ becomes an irrelevance.
“I urge Stockport’s councillors to reject this application and protect our valuable and shared Tame Valley from this hostile and pre-emptive planning proposal.”
The final draft is set to go to the county’s 10 councils in November. If approved, it will then be submitted to the Secretary of State for consideration before a final set of consultations culminating in a public inquiry.
Politicians from the two neighbouring councils have been embroiled in a row over the controversial proposal to extend the industrial estate for some time.
It resulted in Mr Gwynne and Denton South councillors George Newton, Jack Naylor and Claire Reid writing an open letter to Stockport Council leader, Cllr Elise Wilson.They urged Stockport councillors to vote to withdraw the proposed extension into greenbelt land to create 90,000 square feet of new warehousing from the Spatial Framework.
The proposals, they say, will have “devastating consequences” for Haughton Dale Local Nature Reserve and the wider Tame Valley and they have reaffirmed their commitment to fight the proposal every step of the way.
And they demanded Cllr Wilson meets them in the Tame Valley to see first-hand “the devastation her council’s plans will have”.
The expansion of the industrial estate is backed by Stockport Council which is keen to boost jobs in the borough.
It will stretch to the border with Tameside and part of their objection is the impact it would have on the green corridor stretching through from Stalybridge to Stockport.
But they also have concerns about the extra HGV traffic through Denton which is already congested.
Cllr Newton, also speaking on behalf of Cllr Naylor and Cllr Reid, said: “This major development will have a devastating impact on local biodiversity, air quality and access to green space. This reckless proposal must be withdrawn.”
Mr Gwynne added: “The Tame Valley is precious to both Stockport and Tameside people.
“Its destruction will be Stockport Council’s legacy if these plans aren’t dumped now.”
Though Stockport Council backs the expansion of the industrial estate, Conservative MP Mr Wragg, in whose constituency it sits, opposes it as the proposal has split opinions.
Mr Gwynne, whose constituency straddles both boroughs, issued a furious open letter, also signed by Denton South councillors, to Cllr Wilson about both the site’s allocation in the Spatial Framework and the existing planning application.
They argue the plan, which had been submitted last year ahead of any change to the site’s green belt designation under the Spatial Framework, should long since have been thrown out.
In issuing their invite to Cllr Wilson, they wrote: “We are sure like us you do always try to do your absolute best for your community, and for us a large part of that includes protecting the health and wellbeing of all the residents as well as the environment.
“That is why for some time we have led the campaign to oppose the planning application to extend Bredbury Industrial Estate, and we have received intensive and abundant support from our community, and the Stockport community.
“Extending the Bredbury Industrial Estate in the way outlined in the recent planning application would destroy a large portion of our very precious Tame Valley, a resource that is enjoyed by thousands of residents from Tameside, Stockport and further afield every year.
“We as the elected representatives simply cannot see how this is justifiable – quite frankly it is environmental destruction.
:At present, Stockport’s proposals for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework not only do not add any protections to this precious area of greenbelt but take the horrifying approach to remove it from the greenbelt, completely eliminating any protections.
“Stockport’s approach of wishing to use the GMSF to declassify this very important section of green open space as greenbelt and redesignate it as industrial land is all but guaranteeing the developer will have their planning application, which seeks to bulldoze the countryside, approved.”
The Denton representatives added Stockport’s own local plan does not currently permit any development in this area and goes further with regards to employment, stating the borough does not require any more employment land.
“Why then would Stockport feel it is in keeping with the local plan to introduce unsightly development to the Tame Valley?” they asked Cllr Wilson.
The letter continued: “We therefore very much hope Stockport will reverse their current position and join Tameside in protecting all of our river valleys for generations to come.
“We can only imagine that you as leader do not have an adequate understanding of the site and the destruction this development will have to our shared border and beautiful countryside.
“That is why we would like to invite you to the area so you can see for yourself the abhorrent nature of what the developer, and indeed Stockport’s proposal for the GMSF, is proposing for our area.
“We are sure as the leader of Stockport Council you are aware that Denton already has some of the worst air quality in Greater Manchester.
“It is a fact that some of this is as a result of the wagons and HGVs that already chug down the A6017 to the existing Bredbury Industrial Estate as a consequence of the low bridge at Bredbury, an issue Stockport Council refuse to do anything about.
“We can simply not allow the air our children breathe to become more polluted on account of Stockport’s greed for an egregious and unnecessarily large industrial estate.”
Mr Gwynne also recently met Stockport MP Navendu Mishra at Hulmes Wood Local Nature Reserve.
He said: “We discussed the importance of green spaces to our heavily urbanised and polluted constituencies and were agreed that the Tame Valley between Tameside and Stockport was of real importance.
“We also discussed the Spatial Framework and I was able to show Nav the proposed Bredbury Park Industrial Estate extension site.
“Let’s hope we can secure the future integrity of the valley as the Spatial Framework process continues.”