A COUNCILLOR described the proposal to create the Tame Valley Country Park as a smokescreen to build 200 homes on the site of Hartshead Power Station and Millbrook Sidings.
Cllr Clive Patrick, who represents Stalybridge South ward, criticised construction firm The Casey Group at a meeting of Stalybridge Town Council.
He said: “There are reservoirs and moors all around us, and I don’t believe we need a country park and it is a complete and utter scam.
“The country park is a way of browbeating us and cover to build homes.
Cllr Patrick added the development would increase traffic on Huddersfield Road and the congestion would “kill Stalybridge”.
“There was been another public consultation for homes (between 150/200) on the site of the old Mossley Hollins High School and all those cars will also go on to Huddersfield Road,” he added.
Chris Peacock, from Newington on behalf of The Casey Group, attended the town council to discuss the results of the public consultation they held at Stayley Cricket Club, Millbrook, in July.
Mr Peacock explained to create and maintain a country park – The Casey Group intends to leave an endowment for its maintenance – they needed to build homes.
He pointed out 238 people attended the exhibition at the cricket club and 131 feedback forms were received that was “positive”.
Mr Peacock pointed out 63.4-per-cent supported the creation of a country park, 71.9-per-cent backed a sustainable management plan for it and 58.7-percent backed the principle of the regeneration of Tame Valley.
He added the company is keen to retain the goods shed and conveyer, two historic structures, on the proviso it is safe to do so.
Mr Peacock said a further public consultation will be conducted in the near future before any plans are submitted to Tameside Council.
“We are listening and feeding information into the consultations,” he continued.
Residents were unhappy with the questions asked at the consultation claiming they were “loaded” in favour of the developer.
They pointed out the most pertinent question was: “Do you agree that new homes are acceptable if they deliver and sustain the transformation into a country park?”
And of those responded, the highest percentage was ‘strongly disagree’, though overall the feedback was pretty evenly spread in terms of those for and against new homes on the site.
Residents expressed concerns that included the valley being “concreted over”, extra traffic being generated and the need for a cross-valley road and fear that development would contribute to Stalybridge and Mossley merging.
Gillian Jarvis, from the Churchfields Residents Community Group, said residents are worried about extra traffic passing through their estate.
She said: “There are 200 units – they like to call them that – so that will generate up to 400 cars.
“Already 29 houses have been passed in another development so that’s 60 more cars and potentially 460 cars passing through our estate to Huddersfield Road.”
Mrs Jarvis also raised the question of who will maintain the country park when the cash from the endowment is used.
“After eight or 10 years who will fund it or will it go to rack and ruin like other country parks have done or will it still be managed?” she asked.
There were also demands for the country park to be created before the homes were started, but Mr Peacock pointed out this was not possible.
In their conclusion over the public consultation, the company said: “Casey has planned and delivered an open, inclusive and accessible initial consultation for the creation of a Tame Valley Country Park.
“The outline plan for the country park has attracted positive support from the majority of local residents who provided feedback from the exhibition.
“The feedback has shown that a country park, with a sustainable management plan, is supported by those who took part in our consultation. Furthermore, there was overall support for housing if it were to be used to enable the creation of a country park.”
The results of the consultation can be viewed online at: tamevalleycountrypark.co.uk