THE CONTROVERSIAL Godey Green Garden Village scheme has cleared a big hurdle towards being fully approved – but opposition remains high.
Up to 2,150 homes would be built on green belt land either side of Mottram Old Road over 15 years if it gets the formal go ahead.
And a 9:1 vote of Tameside Council’s Speaker’s Panel (Planning) committee on Wednesday, November 1 approved an outline scheme, with the proviso it is referred to the Secretary of State for Housing.
Those against, however, made emotive statements as to why it should not be built and described it as a ‘massive overspill housing estate.’
While the panel’s sole dissenter, Cllr Doreen Dickinson, insisted she was not confident in proposals to tackle issues like drainage.
Conservative colleague Cllr Andrea Colbourne, who represents the Hyde Godley ward, told the meeting: “It’s not what I would class as a village, more a massive overspill housing estate.
“These are the wrong houses in the wrong place. There’s no infrastructure at present to allow this development to go ahead.
“With 2,150 homes bringing in an extra 5,000-9,000 residents, how on Earth will GP surgeries cope with the extra appointments, along with dentists and hospitals?
“A garden village is supposed to be self-sufficient but in the same breath, Tameside Council is saying the residents will be Hyde town centre’s new customers.
“It’s either a garden village or it’s not.”
Protestors made their feelings clear outside the meeting at Tony Downes House in Droylsden after 4,205 letters of objection and a petition of 4,459 signatures against the development were lodged.
And Claire Elliott, of the Save Tameside Greenbelt group, hit out at a ‘green belt grab.’
She said: “Will you be able to look our children in the eye and say, ‘It was worth it?’
“It is a vanity project intended to raise council tax revenue.
“And as I work at Godley Stud Riding School, I see the joy it brings. It would kill me to explain to those children that we would be no more.”
Others told of the ‘negative effect’ Godley Green will have on those who currently live there, saying to panel members: “The good does not outweigh this substantial harm. We need a solution that suits all the people in Tameside, not just the council coffers. Listen to your hearts and minds.
“Godley Green cleans the air for Tameside, Godley Green is Tameside’s lungs. It’s not just about saving the environment, it’s also about saving Tameside.”
The meeting heard Peter Oldham, of Werneth Low Environment Group, said: “If it’s built, there’ll be tear in my eye.”
‘Vague’ language associated with documents backing the scheme was also criticised, along with ‘fantastic looking’ publicity images, with objectors saying: “It’s the equivalent of going to buy a car and being showed a picture of a Bentley and they say, ‘Here it is, here’s your 1,000cc Fiat.’ Unfortunately, that’s the reality.”
If Godley Green is built, Godley Stud Farm and Far Meadow Farm will be demolished, along with stable buildings of Brookfold Farm and agricultural buildings of Greenside Farm.
Tameside Council, which is making the application, pointed out how it believes it will benefit the area.
Planning officer Steven Kirkham told how public rights of way would be retained and improved, including the TransPennine Trail, which will be diverted to run through it.
A bridge linking Hattersley to the eastern village will be put in while Green Lane and Brookfold Lane will be made better.
Neighbouring Stockport Council has lodged an objection but after admitting it would ‘harm’ the green belt, he stated: “Highways advisors are satisfied these issues can be addressed.
“It’s not disputed the development would permanently transform the landscape but Godley Green would make a strategic contribution to our housing requirement.
“It sits next to two areas that are in the top 10 per cent of most deprived neighbourhoods in the country.
“The housing-led regeneration of Hattersley has already demonstrated to be successful. It’s believed Godley Green can build on this success to address current inequalities in neighbouring wards.”
Hyde Werneth Councillor Jim Fitzpatrick added: “This development will deliver the housing Tameside desperately needs. It’s not just about Godley, it’s about Tameside.
Following approval, leader of Tameside Council, Cllr Gerald Cooney, said: “We will await the outcome of the Secretary of State to as to whether he agrees to this much needed housing being built in Tameside.
“We want Godley Green to provide much-needed, quality homes that Tameside really needs.
“But it is not just about housing, it is about developing a sustainable community where people can work, raise families, travel easily, and enjoy green spaces.
“A garden community gives us the opportunity to do something different, with people at the very heart of the development. Their views have been invaluable throughout the application process, and we have listened to their feedback to shape the plans.”