Newsletter, November 2020

A brief summary of what’s in our November 2020 newsletter..

Welcome to our November newsletter – we hope that you and your loved ones are staying well and managing to avoid the Covid 19 virus. Meanwhile in this newsletter we update you on the Saddleworth Neighbourhood Plan that aims to enable Saddleworth residents to have their say in aspects of community life. We also report on SPC’s response to the Government’s White Paper “Planning for the Future” as well as our response on local planning issues and green belt. Plus, we’re still eager to recruit volunteers to encourage local pubs, shops, etc to stock Fair Trade products.


SPC is ensuring Saddleworth’s community voice is heard at the highest level

We’ve been reporting on our plans for a Neighbourhood Plan for some time now, an initiative that gives communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of their local area.

The Neighbourhood Plan enables communities to choose where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built, have their say on what those new buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be provided, and grant planning permission for the new buildings they want to see go ahead – in short, giving communities a powerful set of tools for planning for the types of development that meet their community’s needs.

Where we’re up to with Saddleworth’s Neighbourhood Plan

Our first phase of consultation on Saddleworth’s Neighbourhood Plan has been completed, and we are taking up residents’ concerns with the Home Office and the Communities Minister, as well the Greater Manchester Combined Authorities and Oldham Borough Council.

While the initial consultation was aimed at getting community feedback to inform the Neighbourhood Plan, a considerable number of responses raised concerns that need to inform political decisions at other levels.

Of 225 responses on community safety, nearly 60% wanted increased police presence – more officers, PCSOs, or just more visible presence in the villages.

Chair of SPC’s Strategic Planning Committee Barbara Beeley said: “While the Parish Council can push the case for more policing, the decisions on funding and police numbers are made by the Home Office and by the Greater Manchester Mayor. Obviously, such a strong response needs to be communicated to the people making those decisions, and we shall make those representations on behalf of local residents.”

Cycle routes, parking, protecting the green belt – and more

We will also be taking up responses on the need for cycle routes and parking, which the GMCA and Oldham Borough Council are working on, and the continued need to protect not just green belt, but other protected land across the area.

With Oldham Borough Council’s Local Plan currently under development, SPC will ensure that people’s responses on these Issues are put forward as part of the consultation process.

As Councillor Beeley said: “These responses also formed part of the Parish Council’s response to the Government’s White Paper on changes to the planning system. The Parish Council organised a series of extra meetings specifically to ensure that the most comprehensive response possible on the Government’s “Planning for the Future” white paper could be given. This proposes to simplify the protections on land to a general term of “protected”. There is no suggestion that current protected land such as OPOL (other protected open land) would even exist or be covered under the new system.”

SPC’s Strategic Planning Committee is now also using the responses from the first survey to expand on its original skeleton plan, and once an expanded draft is in place, will embark on a second round of public consultation.

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Parish Council delivers response on planning White Paper

There’s been a lot in the media recently about changes to the planning laws and SPC has delivered a comprehensive response to the Government’s White Paper “Planning for the Future”.

We organised a series of extra meetings of the full Council and the Strategic Planning Committee in order to analyse the paper, and ensure all aspects of how the planning responsibilities of the Council and residents of Saddleworth would be affected by potential reforms to the planning system.

Good – and not-so-good news

In our opinion, there are both good and not-so-good aspects of the white paper. On the plus side, the white paper strengthens the enforcement function of councils. It also proposes improved standardisation and digitisation of the planning system to make it less complex.

On the other hand, there appears to be an erosion of local decision making and concerns, an overall lack of detail, a centralisation of policy with a lack of local influence, and an erosion of the ability of elected representatives to speak out for their residents.

Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee Barbara Beeley said: “This proposed reform would be the largest change in the planning system since 1947, yet the White Paper misses out a lot of crucial information on how the changes would work, which made it very difficult for the Parish Council to respond in full.

“However, the importance of this response meant that we invested as much time and effort as we could to ensure that we represented the 25,500 people of Saddleworth who will be affected by these changes.

We’ll keep you updated on progress, so please watch this space…

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New homes at Chew Brook Vale (formerly Robert Fletcher’s)

New housing developments can be much of a muchness or even a blot on the landscape and put a strain on local services. So, as regards the proposed development at Chew Brook Vale, as it’s now called, we believe it’s important to retain the character of Saddleworth’s village character rather than end up with yet another Greater Manchester suburb.

We’re keen to guide builders and planners with a Masterplan so developments like Chew Brook Vale are places where people want to live and visit, and which also provides an enhanced tourism and leisure experience while strengthening the local economy.

We are also keen to retain the area’s natural beauty as much as possible, for example established trees and so on. Plus, it’s important not to put a strain on local services and amenities like schools, GP practices, etc.

Less is more when it comes to maintaining the area’s character and lessening any strain on local services

There is also the temptation, with new housing developments, for developers to cram in as many dwellings as possible into the available plot. The developers are proposing 170 homes whereas SPC has consistently been of the view that 120 homes is a realistic maximum.

Additions to the Green Belt in Saddleworth

The Greater Manchester spatial framework (GMSF) is a plan which identifies how land across Greater Manchester will be used in the years up to 2037, including land for homes, employment space and infrastructure in order to boost economic growth and cater for a growing population.

The 2019 version of GMSF had proposed that four Saddleworth areas should be added to the local Green Belt: Dacres, Greenfield; Wall Hill, Dobcross; Stoneswood, Delph; and land near the Community Hall at Denshaw.

It now appears that only the Denshaw site was included in this category in the 2020 version of the GMSF, and SPC naturally wants an explanation for the change. We will keep you posted when we know the date of the next Oldham Council meeting to consider GMSF which may not be until early next year.

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Could you be a Fairtrade volunteer?

Could you be a Fairtrade volunteer?

In the last newsletter we reported how SPC wants to encourage as many local retailers, hospitality outlets and workplaces as possible to stock Fairtrade products if they are not already doing so.

We are setting up a local steering group to encourage more local restaurants, pubs, bars, hotels, B&Bs, sandwich shops, cafes, coffee shops, work places, convenience stores and newsagents to stock Fairtrade products – and we are seeking volunteers to help make this happen.

Becoming one of our Fairtrade volunteers is literally life-changing

If you’d like to find out more about being a Fairtrade volunteer in our community and help to change farmers’ and workers’ lives, please contact Councillor Richard Darlington by email ardee@phonecoop.coop. Or email SPC at enquiries@saddleworthparishcouncil.org.uk.

Meanwhile you can find out more about Fairtrade here: https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/