A senior Tory has vowed plans to build 450 homes on green belt will be met with huge opposition. Landowners, Peel, revealed the proposal yesterday for the 42-acre plot at Hazelhurst Farm, next to the East Lancashire Road at Worsley.
But veteran councillor, and former estate agent, Robin Garrido, predicted a battle against it will mirror one to stop the company’s bid to build 600 homes on land in Broadoak, Worsley. That lasted seven years before coming to an end in 2020.
At Broadoak, Peel had envisioned a new neighbourhood of upmarket housing along with affordable properties it said would fill the need for, “aspirational” homes in the city. The meadow Peel wanted to build on is on part of the Worsley Greenway and spans an area between Monton Green and Worsley Road. The local backlash was fierce.
The council refused the plan in 2013, but Peel appealed. Two public inquiries followed after which two Secretaries of State agreed with local residents and rejected it. Peel then took the case through the courts. It finally ended in 2020 when the Court of Appeal refused to give the plan the green light.
The victory was down to years of graft by locals and RAID (Residents Against Inappropriate Development), an umbrella organisation bringing together several local campaign groups. But Salford council also claimed it was their vision in creating the “Worsley Greenway” which had played a key part in giving the land some protection
Hazelhurst Farm is sandwiched between the busy dual carriageway and a slip road to the M61. Consultation on that proposal to create what Peel call “an inclusive and sustainable residential community in Worsley, Salford, with a new primary school site, all set within a connected network of green spaces” was launched yesterday.
Peel Land & Property and its homebuilder Northstone want to build “up to 450 energy efficient homes to meet local needs, including first time buyers, families and downsizers.”
They claim many of the new homes will be affordable housing “to help meet the chronic shortage of affordable properties in the local area.” The scheme would also include land and funding for a new two-form entry primary school, to help meet a wider shortage of school places and “contribute to the family-friendly credentials of the proposals.”
But Coun Garrido, a leading member of RAID, dismissed the “consultation” as a “public relations exercise” and questioned if any affordable homes would be built as part of the development.
“I was astounded to read on the MEN website the proposals that Peel have published today under the guise of it being a public consultation regarding the green belt land at Hazelhurst Worsley,” he said.
He added: “As usual Peel are attempting to dress up what they suggest they will be building on this land when in fact it is currently green belt protected from any development. They totally ignore the fact that this land is going to be the subject of a public inquiry with an independent inspector appointed by the Secretary of State who will hear evidence not just from Peel but from local residents and myself and ward colleagues who have already been fighting proposals by Salford and Greater Manchester Council for the land not to be designated for housing.
“Peel are being totally misleading when they talk about a consultation as if this is some sort of official consultation. Far from it this is just a public relation exercise to try and gain support for proposals which they know they will have an uphill battle in bringing to fruition.
“They will use any information they collect as part of evidence to be given at the public inquiry and will try and demonstrate that there is a need for these expensive houses because rest assured they will not be affordable houses particularly for young local families.
“What they forget to say is that as a result of this development there could easily be 800 extra cars using the narrow Hazelhurst Road and feeding onto Worsley Road and the East Lancashire Road causing chaos not to mention the ridiculous access onto the land from a small narrow cul de sac off Hazelhurst Road.”
But unlike Broadoak, Peel may have an ally in Salford Council in relation to the Hazelhurst Farm plan. The plot and a second – 74-acres just east of Boothstown next to the entrance of RHS Bridgewater – have been identified as suitable in a blueprint for future housing provision across Greater Manchester.
Called “Places for Everyone” nine out of ten local authorities in the region have accepted it. Stockport opted out. A Salford council report on it says: “Part of the reason green belt is being released in Salford is in order to diversify the type of dwellings coming in the city, in particular to increase the supply of family houses in order to ensure that a range of housing needs are met. The allocations will also provide significant numbers of affordable homes.
“An increase in supply of houses will boost resilience of the city’s housing market should there be a period of downturn.”
In the regional blueprint it says Salford’s housing requirement from 2021-37 is 26,528 dwellings – an annual average of 1,658. This equates to 5,000 higher than the city’s own local housing need figure of 21,424.
But Coun Garrido is urging residents to lobby at a drop-in organised by Peel as part of their consultation at Brackley Conservative Club in Hazelhurst Fold, on June 9th at 2.30pm and 7.30pm in which the company’s project team will answer questions.
“People can make it clear to Peel that we do not want them or their houses on this land and make sure that they know they will have a fight on their hands. We have fought and won other battles with Peel including Broadoak for 600 houses and the racecourse, exhibition centre and hotel on Leigh Road and with the support of the local community we can win this battle.”
He also believes that in reality the value of any homes built at Hazelhurst Farm will be well beyond any “affordable” bracket. He said: “Any social housing provision will be on another site, or the developers will make a financial contribution which will probably go to the council’s own housing company, Derive.”
Dérive, a council-owned development company named after a French Marxist revolutionary theory, was created in 2017 – but it has now been restructured. The newly-formed Dérive Group aims to deliver the biggest public housebuilding programme in decades.
Salford council will lend around £8.4m to the company to build the first 129 homes planned across four sites which should be completed by August 2022. It aims to build 3,000 homes.
Annabel Partridge, Peel Land and Property’s Associate Director of Development said: “In developing our plans, we have carefully considered both the natural characteristics of the area and the existing community. Our proposals for Hazelhurst Farm would represent an investment of over £54million to deliver a sustainable and inclusive new community and deliver some of the new family and affordable homes that the area desperately needs, as well as providing a much-needed new site for a new primary school.”
“As many people will know, the delivery of new family and affordable homes is a longstanding challenge across the City, along with the need for new primary school sites, so we’re really pleased to now be bringing forward this new community that is fully aligned with Salford and Greater Manchester’s new plan.”