Councillors from Irlam and Cadishead have issued a statement to their local Community Committee urging people to fight Peel Holdings' plans to build on Green Belt land.
"Peel have just revealed that they want to build on all this land between the A57 and the M62. They want to build warehousing near the airport and 1,400 houses near to Irlam - on golf course land near the top of Fiddlers Lane and beyond. 1,400 houses is the size of two housing estates in Irlam.
"We want the Community Committee to oppose these plans and we will start a petition in January. We will also have public meetings in Feb/March.
"Local Councillors named below do not support this proposed development - in our view it is bad news for Irlam & Cadishead…"
It's signed by Cllr Christine Hudson, Cllr Roger Jones, Cllr Jimmy Hunt, Cllr Tracy Kelly and Cllr John Walsh (with Cllr Joe Kean unable to sign as he's on the planning panel).
The potential Green Belt destruction has come about after the Panning Inspector suspended his hearing into Salford's Core Strategy document, which provides a blueprint for future use of land in the whole city (click here for full background).
Peel Holdings had challenged the original Core Strategy at the hearings, arguing for the release of Green Belt land in Irlam as part of an expansion of warehousing for its yet to be built Port Salford, and for houses in Hazelhurst (see Peel Holdings Hijacks Salford's Future – click here).
Possibly giving into Peel pressure and definitely nodding to Tory minister Eric Pickles' developer free-for-all policy, the Inspector, Richard Hollox, had told Salford Council to come up with a new plan which included more space for warehousing and houses.
At tomorrow's Full Council meeting, councillors will discuss a new approach to future planning with three options, the preferred one being to tear up the Core Strategy and draw up a new Local Plan. At a time of cuts to spending, the cost of this Option 3 would be £280,000 to cover costs of the Inspector's hearings so far and in future. Other Options could cost up to £430,000.
What isn't noted in these figures is the amount it cost to draw up the current Core Strategy which has now been torn up. The Salford Star has issued a Freedom of Information request to try to find out.
Even worse than the amount of public money it has cost from challenges by the likes of Peel Holdings, is the potential loss of Salford's precious Green Belt.
"In order to respond to the inspector's concerns on this issue, it would also be necessary to examine whether exceptional circumstances exist that would justify the release of some Green Belt areas" the Salford Council Report states "…and, if so, the most appropriate sites for release."
The new Plan would take at least four years to be drawn up and approved and, in the meantime, the Report states, "the National Planning Policy Framework provides a strong basis on which to continue to resist Green Belt loss". Except that Eric Pickles and the ConDem Government are tinkering with policy, giving developers a licence to concrete over the Green Belt.
Almost three years ago, when Peel's plans were first rumoured, there were big demonstrations lining Liverpool Road in Barton (see here). On the demo was current Salford City Mayor, Ian Stewart (then MP for Eccles), who told the Salford Star…
"Peel…will do what they no doubt sincerely think is in the best interests of both the company and the shareholders – that doesn't necessarily mean the same as what's in the bests interests of local people and their environment…"
Salford Council is in an incredibly contradictory position with Peel Holdings...
• Salford Council's councillors, including an Assistant Mayor, are actively campaigning against Peel's Port Salford expansion into the Green Belt, while Salford Council itself has secured over £30million public funding towards the scheme (see here).
• Salford Council is in bed with Peel Holdings both at MediaCityUK and at its joint venture Salford City Stadium. This morning, Peel and Salford Council have announced plans for a new 43 acre retail park next to the Stadium.
• A few years ago, Peel Holdings held a secret meetings with opposition political parties to try and help unseat Irlam councillor and now Assistant Mayor Roger Jones (see Dance With The Devil click here).