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PICKLES SIDES WITH PEEL HOLDINGS AS GREEN FIELD SALFORD HOUSING GETS GO AHEAD
 

Star date: 18th July 2012

SHOCK AND HORROR IN SALFORD AS PICKLES OVERTURNS PLANNING INSPECTOR IN BURGESS FARM FIASCO

Peel Holdings plan to build 350 houses on the green site of Burgess Farm has been given the go ahead by Tory Minister Eric Pickles, despite the independent Planning Inspector recommending that planning permission be refused. Shocked residents are considering an appeal.

Official reports, released yesterday, also show the "highly unusual circumstances" surrounding Salford Council's role in the planning fiasco. The Council even kept its own report secret from the Inspector…

Full shocking story here…


Tory Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, yesterday gave the go ahead for Peel Holdings to build 350 houses on the green field site of Burgess Farm in Little Hulton/Walkden, despite the Planning Inspector recommending refusal following a Public Inquiry.

Peel Holdings appealed to Eric Pickles, following the Planning Inspector's decision. And Pickles sided with the £multi billion developers, which seems intent on exploiting every inch of land it owns in Salford, green or otherwise.

Pickles acknowledged "that development of the site would result in the permanent loss of an area of open countryside enjoyed by local people"; agreed that there would be "encroachment into the wildlife corridor" and "a significant intrusion into the setting of Walkden" and that "it would seriously degrade the character and appearance of the area and the amenities of neighbouring residents".

Pickles also accepted that the building of 350 houses would be in "clear conflict with UDP policies for the site, which support its retention as undeveloped land"; and recognised that one of the core planning principles "is to contribute to the conservation and enhancement of the natural environment".

Pickles agreed with the Planning Inspector on all this. But while the Planning Inspector recommended refusal on the basis that "the use of greenfield sites is only justified in exceptional circumstances" and "There is no pressing housing shortfall to justify the development of this site and the benefits are not sufficient to outweigh that conflict and the harm it would cause"…Pickles overturned him.

The reasons given were that there was likely to be "a significant deficiency in 5 year housing land supply…The Secretary of State considers that the proposals do, on balance, represent sustainable development, and he does not consider that the adverse impacts of allowing the development outweigh the benefits to be gained…"  

Shocked residents, having won their case against Peel Holdings at a Public Inquiry, only to see it overturned by the Tory Minister, are now considering an appeal.

Tory Councillor Iain Lindley, who has supported residents throughout the campaign, told the Salford Star "The Burgess Farm decision is disappointing and wrong.

He added: "It is clear from the judgement that if the Council had maintained an up to date housing plan and had bothered to defend residents at the Inquiry that the appeal would have been dismissed."

Indeed, Salford Council's role in the whole Burgess Farm fiasco is questionable, to say the least. Some might say disgraceful. Others might go further…

In his report on the Public Inquiry, the Planning Inspector had a special section on "The Salford Council Position", parts of which we include here in…

THE STRANGE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SALFORD COUNCIL AND PEEL HOLDINGS…

• When the planning application was originally considered by Salford Council's Planning Panel in July 2011 Council officers recommended approval of the application. This, the Planning Inspector noted "appears to have been based solely on the evidence provided by the applicant [ie Peel Holdings] as no additional reports or surveys have been presented in relation to this application either by the Council or by any other independent body".

• At Salford Council's chaotic Planning Panel meeting in July, councillors eventually refused Peel planning permission, despite strange attempts by Lead Member Councillor Derek Antrobus - who supported Peel's plans at the meeting - to try and stop the process (see Salford Star report click here).

• Peel Holdings then appealed against the Council decision and the case went to a Public Inquiry (see Salford Star report click here). But Salford Council wouldn't defend its reasons for refusing planning permission at that Public Inquiry, leaving residents with scarce resources to fight Peel on their own.

• A letter to residents on 15th December last year outlined the reasons why the Council was chickening out of the Inquiry (see Salford Star report click here and click here)… "new information in relation to the City's housing supply and demand", "draft changes to national planning policy", and "legal advice".

• The letter was based on a report by Paul Walker, the Council's Strategic Director for Sustainable Regenerationbut the contents of the "confidential" report were kept secret, even from the Planning Inspector and the Public Inquiry… "nobody outside the Council knows what is included in that report" noted the Inspector .

• On September 23rd 2011, the Inspector noted, Salford Council made an "express invitation" to Peel to re-submit its Burgess Farm application "with a view to it being approved before the start of this Inquiry".

• The Planning Inspector himself stated that these were "highly unusual circumstances"

• Incredibly, in April this year, Councillor Derek Antrobus, head of Salford Planning, posted on the Salford Labour Party website that "the Tory minister is about to overturn the Labour Council's decision… This will be a betrayal of the people of Walkden who have campaigned to put off Peel's development plans. But we always feared that the new national planning policy's presumption in favour of 'sustainable' development would make it hard to resist Peel's proposal."

• Hard to resist? Salford Council - and its "highly unusual circumstances", secret reports, invitations to Peel to re-submit its plans, and officers' recommendations "based solely on the evidence provided by the applicant" - never even tried.

• In coming to his decision, Eric Pickles stated that he "notes that the Salford City Council took no real part in the Inquiry and that it was not possible for the Inspector or objectors to explore policy and related matters with the Council."

 

Now, having rolled over to allow Peel Holdings to build on green field land at Burgess Farm despite democratic opposition from its own councillors and residents, will Salford Council defend its precious Green Belt against Peel Holdings' onslaught? The signs are not good. In fact, they're awful…

Read: The Destruction of Salford's Green Belt – coming soon…

UPDATE: 2pm 18th July 2012 – SALFORD COUNCIL MEETING

At a meeting of the full Salford Council this morning Burgess Farm was discussed, with Assistant Mayor for Planning, Derek Antrobus, weeping crocodile tears over Burgess Farm, explaining how Eric Pickles had “betrayed” the people of Salford, arguing that the Inspector’s decision had been “overturned politically” and that the Tories had unleashed a “developers’ charter”… "What confidence is there that the Secretary of State will back local people over developers?” he asked, adding that the Council would “defend the city’s green field and green belt sites”.

It sounded good...until Conservative Councillor Lindley stood up and spoke of the “elephant in the room”…that Councillor Antrobus was actually in favour of allowing Peel Holdings to build houses on Burgess Farm.

Meanwhile, other Tory councillors revealed that they were “annoyed” with the Secretary of State, Councillor Karen Garrido promising to write to both Eric Pickles and David Cameron … “I think this is a bad, bad decision” she said “As a Conservative I thought we would be supported on this.”

She then called for Mayor Ian Stewart to instigate a Judicial Review into the decision. In reply, Stewart said that he had “severe concerns with the Secretary of State”, that he will find out “the facts of the matter” and will then “decide how to move this forward”. Don’t hold your breath…


 

caroline wrote
at 07:38:51 on 11 August 2012
i agree with john docherty..it is all over..u.k. over green belt..means nothing if they trash it...build more..why.. there are lots of houses needing up grading ready to go...cost so much less than all this rubbish...wonderfull to find a scotish person joining in..many blessings
 
john docherty wrote
at 05:41:46 on 10 August 2012
I'm sorry to hear of the situation the people have in walkden. As usual in this country the voice of the people means nothing to the people we voted in. we have the same problem in eaglesham, Glasgow, Scotland. Just moved out of an area which was supposed to be a green belt area 15 yrs ago, that area has probably increased 50% in size since then making it one of the largest estates in europe. so i moved 3 miles out of the area into a village called waterfoot and have since found out they plan basically to do the same to this area. Councils and there greed as its not down to affordable accomadation as these are 5 & 6 bedroom houses with a token eight affordable flats in a corner. So much for being a democracy.
 
jonjosalford wrote
at 13:59:26 on 18 July 2012
It is disgraceful that despite the council rejecting the planning application, and an independent inspector rejecting it, and against the public will, the CONSERVATIVE fatcat minister, living it up in LONDON, has decided that it should go ahead! When even Tory councillors are saying that the decision is wrong, it must be a problem! Its CON-DEM-NATION! I think it is wrong that Pickles accuses the council of taking no real part in the enquiry, because he knows that they couldnt for legal reasons! He is trying to pass the buck back to the council, when this is in fact a CONSERVSATIVE central office decision! He should be ashamed of himself, and I hope the Salford Tory councillors write to him and share our disgust!
 
tom nolan wrote
at 13:59:22 on 18 July 2012
i am a great believer that ,mp's,mayors councillors etc, should not get into bed with money grabbing or legitimate companies ,ie dinners,drinks, and holiday invtes etc..all dealings should be open and on view ..nuf said......
 
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