BROOKFIELDS will remain a green lung in the heart of Mossley after a proposal to build 21 homes on the site in a £7.5 million development was thrown out by Tameside Council’s speakers’ panel (planning).
“We are really pleased with the outcome, it is a big relief and a victory for common sense,” explained Stamford Road resident Helen Jamison.
“It was worth all the work. It shows if you stand up to something, you can make a difference.
“It has shown a sense of community and it has been nice to play a little part in making things better.”
Resident Dave Jones, who co-ordinated the opposition to the proposed development by Clements Court Property, addressed speakers’ panel.
Dave said: “I am thrilled with the result, elated and relieved.
“We thought we were up against it and feared the worst, but it was a democratic meeting in which we made a powerful argument against the development.
“Cllr Tafheen Sharif and I may have made the presentations to the speakers’ panel, but it was the weight from other people in the town that hopefully influenced the decision.
“It was such an obvious case but thankfully the speakers’ panel recognised our concerns.”
Cllr Sharif added: “We are extremely pleased, relieved, ecstatic that the planning panel have listened to us and all the people who objected.
“It gives faith in the system and, had it gone through, it would have disrupted the lives of many which I cannot let happen.”
Cllr Sharif pointed to the scale of the opposition – more than 300 letters of objection and a 500-name petition.
Mossley’s three councillors, Sharif, Jack and Stephen Homer, Mossley Town Council and MP Jonathan Reynolds were all against the development.
“Thanks to every single person who has objected, each of your effort has been so worth it,” she said.
Residents are convinced this may be only one battle won and the developer will probably appeal the decision.
Helen pointed out questions about procedural issues have yet to be addressed and they will be pursued.
This related to the disclosure in planning documents that Tameside Council’s Estates department had already agreed to lease land it owned off Stamford Road to the developer as an alternative access to their site as Archer, Spring and Vernon Streets had already been ruled out as unsuitable.
At speakers’ panel it was disclosed by a council officer that no formal agreement had been entered into between the council and developer to use the land and this would be subject of a separate planning application.
Councillors rejected the proposal to build 21 four-and-five-bedroom homes on the following grounds.
- Highway safety
- Residential amenities to existing householders
Case officer Steve Kirkham explained the 2.2-hectare site is listed as ‘unallocated’ in the Unitary District Plan (UDP).
The UDP ‘tolerated’ the development of greenfield sites where an adequate five-year supply of housing land cannot be demonstrated, and Tameside Council was not in such a position.
He added the site had previously been earmarked for potentially 84 dwellings, but this proposal would not see the site developed in its entirety.
Steve pointed out only 45-per-cent of the site would be developed, and the proposal was only nine dwellings per hectare.
He described it as a “highly sustainable location” in terms of its proximity to Mossley town centre and public transport.
Cllr Sharif described it as “by far one of the most concerning developments I have come across”.
She claimed access the proposed access would ‘gridlock’ the town as Stamford Road splits Top and Bottom Mossley as is used by most residents while there would be an increase in the risk of flooding.
Cllr Sharif said this site provided the community with “one of the few green, open and accessible spaces in the immediate locality”.
And in her closing remarks, she said: “This application would cause absolute havoc to the town if approved, would be a logistical nightmare for the developer, residents, drivers and the council for all concerns coming in.
“It would cause disruption many lives in the town and be of detriment to the people of Mossley and ask you to do the right thing and make a sensible decision and listen to the hundreds of objections.”
Dave Jones said the opposition represented an “incredible public outcry”.
He pointed out the original application for the site was considered ‘unviable’ because of access issues for HGVs using from Carrhill Road, Mill Lane, Archer Street, Vernon Street and Spring Street.
Dave listed the dangers and safety issues already relating to Stamford Road because of its topography.
He explained: “At the exact points where this loading and unloading area is proposed, there are already existing speed rumble strips and slow signs painted.
“It is the single most inappropriate and dangerous place in the whole of Mossley to undertake any such work and it would exacerbate existing problems.
“It would be an accident or death waiting to happen. It would cause chaos on a scale you cannot even imagine and gridlock the whole town.
“It is unsafe and ill-conceived, and it is going to endanger lives.”
Dave added he was not against development in the town, it was just the unsuitability of this site. He pointed to the land where the former Mossley Hollins High School was based as being ripe for building on.
“I am making a passionate plea to do what is right and reject this application which has this community in uproar. It is wrong and we ask you to reject it,” he concluded.
Philip Millson, representing the applicant, pointed out there is a lack of family homes in the town and this will help retain an attract them rather than losing them and therefore boost the local economy.
He added the development would create construction jobs locally and generate £77,000 in council tax annually and “the benefits outweigh temporary inconvenience”.
Philip pointed out only half the site, which he described as “overgrown scrubland” would be developed with the remainder improved to create play areas for children.
Philip added the developer had consulted residents and the feedback resulted in the development being scaled back from 35 to 21 homes.
Panel member Cllr Doreen Dickinson in initially called for a deferral as she requested a site visit.
“I paid a site visit myself and I couldn’t believe it. You cannot get it in pictures and words in a report, you have to see it,” she said.
Cllr Dickinson added lorries queueing to get on to the site from Stamford Road would cause chaos.
Cllr Mike Glover also feared it would “screw up traffic” and raised concerns relating to gritting in bad weather.
The speakers’ panel vote was 8-4 against the development.