Like the community, the minority ruling Labour Cabinet are split on the road from the A6 to Bredbury.
Strong feelings and arguments on both sides were clear at a recent Cabinet meeting that was supposed to decide whether to proceed with applications for funding for a full business case for the road.
A6 to Bredbury Proposed Route
In simple terms the main arguments for and against the road are…
Alleviation of current congestion especially in Hazel Grove, Bredbury and Stockport itself.
The coming additional journeys from new houses and businesses currently being built to the south of Stockport and proposed under GMSF
Need to support economic growth
Environmental damage, especially to sensitive and cherished areas of Stockport including the Goyt valley
Induced additional traffic from a new road; encouraging ever more journeys and leading to a back-to-square-one result in terms of congestion in a few short years
Lack of information on the long term impact of the road across the whole borough
The decision of whether to proceed with applications for funding to complete a full business case has been passed to the full council meeting of 63 councillors from across all areas of Stockport. That decision will not decide the final fate of this road but a decision not to proceed would at least halt plans for a significant number of years.
“The need to relieve congestion in Hazel Grove is without any doubt a major concern – we are being suffocated by fumes and strangled by the volume of traffic. It is only going to get worse as thousands of new homes are built in Stockport and to our south.
“But, the environmental argument that we cannot simply keep building new roads and completely filling them with even more cars is unquestionable too.
“We should only build this road if we have all the evidence and we make absolutely sure that it will play a strategic role in a truly sustainable multi modal (including trains, buses, taxis, cycling and walking) transport infrastructure across the whole of Greater Manchester that moves far more toward public transport and a shared vehicle basis,” said Cllr Jon Twigge.
The Lib Dems have submitted our response to the first stage of Stockport’s Local Plan consultation.
“At the heart of the Lib Dem response is a two stage approach to house-building across the next 20 years – brownfield in the first years and green belt only later, if at all.
“Major changes in the UK due to Brexit and new transport technologies including driverless cars may mean we never need to release those Green Belt areas that the GMSF proposed to give away forever” said Cllr Jon Twigge.
“Everyone knows we need infrastructure to be in place for new homes, but often it does not happen. The A6 through Hazel Grove is already heavily congested and it can only get worse with a lot more housing before we get a bypass,” Jon added.
For a lot more detail and our reasoning behind the two stage planning you can see the Lib Dem response here.
This is the first of three consultations on the Local Plan. The next stage is for the Council to work up the details of what is being proposed where. That means that we’ll be seeing specific proposals for where homes should be built, along with all the other parts of the plan.
Both the current owner, who eventually got planning permission to build houses, and McCarthy & Stone have confirmed the new situation.
McCarthy & Stone have acquired an interest in the Royal Oak site and will purchase it if they get planning permission for accommodation for older people. You may recognise the name, McCarthy & Stone built Woodgrove Court by Sainsbury in Hazel Grove.
Woodgrove Court, Hazel Grove
Clearly this means that there will be further delays while a new application for planning permission is made. I am most keen to know that the new owners will eventually get the planning permission and build – the last thing we want is another lengthy delay to be all for nothing, so I have contacted Stockport planning officers for any guidance they may have and I hope to speak to McCarthy & Stone soon.
As part of the process the retirement housebuilder is starting a community consultation process – more information soon.
Please let us know your feelings about the changes.
Having received 27,000 responses to the initial consultation the Mayor of Greater Manchester and council leaders have discussed the next steps for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF). The first consultation said a total of over 19 thousand new houses are needed in Stockport in the coming 20 years and suggested that around 4,000 be built around High Lane.
High Lane Protests
The timetable is now as follows:
September 2017 – publication of the responses to the initial consultation
Later in 2017 – publication of data and associated sources of information such as population estimates which will help us calculate the requirements for housing and employment. Some of this information isn’t yet available, for example we are waiting for the government to publish its national methodology for calculating housing need, which we expect will now be released in the autumn
Early 2018 – Development of an updated plan
June 2018 – Second draft of GMSF published
Following publication – 12 week public consultation
It won’t come as a surprise to many here in Hazel Grove that our retailers are experiencing some difficulties.
Stockport Council is preparing a new local plan at the moment – you can find out more about this at https://www.stockport.gov.uk/localplan. The purpose of the local plan is to make Stockport and the surrounding areas as prosperous as possible in several ways including health, education, jobs, housing and infrastructure.
You can comment on the local plan issues document on the same page above. (It is a rather fiddly system to use but if you keeping selecting next page through the report you eventually get to the questions. You can then add comments for each question). There will also be opportunities to comment on the full plan later.
Part of the report is about our retail centres with Hazel Grove identified as one of those centres experiencing some difficulties. This is not a surprise with the main A6 through the town an ongoing problem of heavy traffic, noise and pollution – not the best combination for a busy high street.
Most people would agree that taking a lot of the through traffic off the A6 onto a bypass would help a lot – something also covered in the local plan under transport and infrastructure. The bypass is part of the proposed next stage of the Greater Manchester SEMMMS traffic strategy – to continue the new road to the Airport over to Bredbury and the M60. The bypass part of the scheme is a spur off this new proposed road going back to the A6 at Sainsbury’s and therefore allowing a lot of the traffic on the A6 to completely miss the centre of Hazel Grove.
A bigger vision for Stockport is to eventually pedestrianise some of the town centre but that heavily relies on major improvements to other roads and the A6 to Bredbury road, our Hazel Grove bypass, being built too.
There have been rumours recently that the Royal Oak on Commercial road may be up for sale again. The current owner and developer, that has just secured planning permission for houses on the site, have now confirmed that there is substance to the rumours; they are indeed considering offers from other developers for the site. One offer may be for flats in a block similar to those opposite Sainsbury.
Planning conditions associated with the application had already delayed progress at the site but the very good news is that the site will soon be secured with a perimeter fence despite a further possible sale which should mean an end to the litter and vandalism.
The site is now fenced which should stop many people using the site but we have asked the developer if they can make the barrier more substantial to prevent vandalism within the site.
When the first draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework was published it included the call for over 12,000 new homes to be built on Greenbelt land in Stockport across the next 20 years.
Understandably, many people were very concerned, especially in the areas with large allocations of homes; locally, land around High Lane was identified for an additional 4,000 homes.
Proposed High Lane Greenbelt Release
One of the most common questions was why is more not being done to reuse sites that have previously been developed or have empty buildings on them. Stockport has always done well reusing brownfield sites but clearly it is even more important now. As many sites as possible must be identified and evaluated to reduce the amount of Greenbelt land that has to be released.
Oddly, at the last Environment and Economy committee, the Labour administration proposed that brownfield sites be passed back to Council Area Committees around Stockport. I made my thoughts clear; it MUST be possible to let the council know about brownfield sites on the council website and they have now done this.
In a bid to increase affordable housing in Stockport, Stockport Homes has been allocated £10.6 million of funding from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to contribute towards the construction of 421 affordable homes across the borough over the next five years.
The funding was allocated from the HCA under its £1.28 billion Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme 2016 to 2021, to support the building of 46,534 new affordable homes across the UK.
These new homes will be delivered under the exciting new partnership between the Council and Stockport Homes known as ‘Viaduct Housing Partnerships’ and will not only provide much needed affordable housing, but will help boost local economies and create numerous jobs and training opportunities at construction sites.
Cllr Jon Twigge says “The new report into the A6 to Bredbury road says that average traffic speed in Stockport can be less than ten miles an hour for much of the day. More houses means more traffic and the A6 in Hazel Grove is already bursting at the seams!”
Traffic from houses proposed by GMSF around High Lane would use the overcrowded A6
Here in Hazel Grove we agree with Jane Brophy who has demanded green spaces in Greater Manchester are protected. She said: “The Government and Greater Manchester Combined Authority must work together to ensure no more houses are built on our precious greenbelt.
“We are destroying our green spaces and depriving our children of the areas to grow and play in.”
Before we open up the greenbelt for development we must bring every empty home back into use, develop every old mill building, empty warehouse, factory, brownfield space and derelict piece of land. Only when all that is truly done should we consider moving onto the greenbelt.