Bold Lib Dem Response to Stockport Local Plan Consultation

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.

McCarthy & Stone to Purchase Royal Oak Site

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.

 

 

Have Your Say on Stockport’s New Local Plan

The Council is inviting residents to join the conversation on the Stockport Local Plan, a plan for the future of the borough through to 2035.

There are big challenges and opportunities facing the borough. People are concerned about housing, both in terms of numbers and where they are built. We also know that while Stockport is a well-connected place, our roads are often very congested.

It’s not just about housing, jobs and transport though. People rely on services such as health, education, shops and enjoying our green places and spaces.

The Local Plan will set the rules for development and land uses which will have an impact on the way we live and work in the future.

You can take part in the consultation by coming along to one of our public drop-in events or by responding online.

Upcoming events:

  • Stepping Hill AreaMonday 25th September From 6pm to 8.30pm at Hazel Grove Civic Hall, London Road, Stockport, SK7 4DF;
  • Cheadle AreaThursday 28th September From 6pm to 8.30pm at Kingsway School, Foxland Road, Stockport, SK8 4QX.

At these events, residents will also be able to learn more about the current and future transport priorities that are part of a review of the 2001 South East Manchester Multi-Modal (SEMMM) Strategy.

Residents will also have the opportunity to let us know what they think the current transport issues are across the borough and how we should address them.

The online consultation is available at www.stockport.gov.uk/localplan. It will run until 8th October 2017.

Greater Manchester Spatial Framework Update

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

The full announcement is at: https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/news/article/178/next_steps_in_greater_manchester_spatial_framework_announced

We will keep you updated on progress as the process continues.

Hazel Grove Retail Experiencing Some Difficulties – The Local Plan

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.

One of the first stages is to produce an issues document.  You can download the full issues document at https://www.stockport.gov.uk/get-involved-slp/issues-paper-sustainability-appraisal.

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 will also be some events where you can hear more about the local plan and give feedback.  Details should appear at https://www.stockport.gov.uk/events/?tag=stockport%20local%20plan soon.

 

Royal Oak Rumours and Update

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.

Update:

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.

Help Identify Brownfield Sites – Saving the Greenbelt

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.

Register a Brownfield Site

You can now register a brownfield site that the council may not know about here.

 

Stepping Hill Overwhelmed Before New Homes

On New Year’s Eve Stepping Hill Hospital posted to their official Twitter account warning people to stay away except for absolute emergencies.

Stepping Hill Completely Overwhelmed

Stepping Hill Completely Overwhelmed

 

At one point on New Year’s Eve there were 68 people waiting to be seen in the A&E department with people who were not critically ill having to wait many hours.  More typically a busy day might see 40 people waiting.

 

A hospital statement said “Our staff are ensuring the best possible care is provided to everyone, but they are rushed off their feet. The plea is therefore for people to only come to our A&E if it is an absolute emergency. This department is for critical or life threatening conditions.”

The hospital has had a lot of bad news recently with a ward closed, hundreds of redundancies announced and large increases to car park charges.

Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Jon Twigge is worried: “With even the Red Cross recently declaring that the NHS is in a humanitarian crisis our hospital is clearly under too much pressure already, what would it be like if the GMSF plans were allowed  to go unchallenged and another 4000 homes were built at High Lane?

“We (Stockport Liberal Democrats) are calling for our Council to withdraw from the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework so that Stockport Council can create its own local plan independently, taking into account our own local needs and ensuring that local infrastructure will be planned properly and not regularly overwhelmed like this.”

Response to Spatial Framework (GMSF) and Consultation Extended

There is still time to give your feedback on the controversial Greater Manchester Spatial plans, which include 4000 new homes in High Lane, – following a meeting of Greater Manchester leaders, a decision was made to extend the deadline for public consultation on the draft version of it and the closing date for comments is now Monday 16 January 2017. You can send in your feedback by emailing [email protected]

Cllr Jon Twigge commented “The GMSF is very clear on the plans for very large numbers of new homes, effectively joining High Lane and Marple, but very light on what kind of infrastructure would be needed to support them.  The plans would put a huge new strain on the A6 and traffic here in Hazel Grove”.

Stockport Liberal Democrat group have formally responded saying that the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) process is not right for Stockport and have already formally called for the borough to withdraw from the GMSF and to focus on developing its own Local Plan instead, taking into account the concerns with GMSF that they have raised. More work needs to be done on ways to unlock Brownfield sites, such as funding being secured to handle sites needing decontamination or old mills that can be expensive to convert.

You can see the full response here:

stockportlibdems.org.uk/2016/12/19/stockport-lib-dems-respond-to-greater-manchester-spatial-framework-consultation/

Plans to Save Greenbelt Blocked by Council

In a dramatic Stockport Council meeting former Liberal Democrat MP Mark Hunter led the chamber into a vote on plans to save Stockport’s greenbelt.

The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF), currently up for public consultation, allocates greenbelt for 4000 new homes on our doorstep in High Lane. The A6 through Hazel Grove and High Lane is already one of the busiest roads in the country. In all it includes plans for over 12,000 homes in Greenbelt areas across Stockport.

The amendment, drawn up by Cheadle’s former MP of ten years, Mark Hunter, saw the chamber thrown into disarray. After a short break, and despite the Liberal Democrats’ best efforts, the chamber’s other councillors joined forces to quickly vote down the amendment without a debate.

Jon Twigge said: “We are really disappointed that the GMSF plans to impose 4000 homes in High Lane will continue, this decision should be made here in Stockport. The Liberal Democrat councillors were the only ones standing up for local residents.”

“It is easier and cheaper to build on Greenbelt but that does not mean it is best for Stockport”.

“We will continue to fight to bring the decision of where to build these houses back to Stockport, where it belongs. We should build on exisiting brownfield sites throughout Stockport before we release massive areas of our Greenbelt.”

Please sign our Stop Massive Development petition to save the Greenbelt – http://www.lisasmart.org.uk/stop_mass_development_now

facebook_image_no_to_over_development

And, if you want to share your views on the plans then you can add feedback on the GMSF consultation at https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/info/20081/draft_plan

A lot of people have reported that it is difficult to register on the feedback site but there are instructions on the link underneath (in the Online section) or you can send in comments via email to: [email protected]