Sidebottom Fold Farm saved from development in new homes plans?

Words by Gary Carter

Sidebottom Fold is located East of Stalybridge, with Copley to the North, Mottram Road to the West and the Pennine foothills to the East

HOPES are rising that a controversial piece of green belt land may be spared from being developed.
Sidebottom Fold Farm, on the hills above Copley in Stalybridge, was on a list of sites drawn up as part of the initial Greater Manchester Spatial Framework document.
Up to 650 ‘executive style’ homes may have been built on the site, leading to protests and opposition voices to be raised.
However, Jonathan Reynolds MP hinted there may be a rethink when a new draft of the GMSF is published later this year.
Instead, there may be more focus on using existing brownfield sites – a new list of which has been collated, featuring seven sites in Stalybridge.
The former Pineapple Inn on Acres Lane, the car park on Castle Street, the former police station and what used to be the Wellington Inn on Caroline Street all feature.
Concerns over the effect such a development on Sidebottom Fold would have on traffic was one of the main arguments against the GMSF proposal.
Other include the loss of valuable green belt land that dominates the view above the school and recreation centre at Copley.
And floods in 2016 also highlighted how vital the loss of land can be when it comes to water running off the hills.
However, Mr Reynolds wrote: “It is expected that there will be some downward adjustment of the housing target for Greater Manchester when the Government publishes its standardised assessment figures, but not by much.
“Tameside will still need to look to build around 650 homes a year for the next 20 years.
“The Brownfield Register will help a lot and allow people to see the mixture of brown and green sites together.
“If there is sufficient viable brownfield land to meet our targets then that’s that what will be used.
“However no-one, not even the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, has suggested that brownfield land alone will be sufficient to meet the target across Greater Manchester.
“The new draft will include the work that I’ve been doing with Andy Burnham (Mayor of Manchester) on town centre regeneration.
“Clearly, if we can make the land around Stalybridge station viable and increase residency in town centres that will make a considerable difference to the pressure on the green belt.
“I really hope we can do this – the key is getting a plan for development and the requisite land assembled that will bring in the investment to make a residential development stack up.
“Based on this latest information I think there is a real possibility for the next draft to remove the Sidebottom Fold site in Stalybridge by way of proposing the town centre development instead.”
Mr Reynolds met with elected Mayor of Salford, Paul Dennett, who has been charged with re-writing the GMSF, and believes four main points will be looked at:
• The use of viable brownfield land should be maximised before any green belt is released
• A way to fund infrastructure at the same time as new housing
• All developments should have a range of housing sizes and tenures to match different levels of affordability
• Planning development is a better approach than leaving it to developers. If a proper plan is not formulated this is what will happen.
Mr Reynolds said: “I know from my experience on this issue that some people are entirely opposed to any new sites being developed.
“I have always been clear this is neither practically possible under the Government’s development framework, nor fair on the next generation.
“I feel it was right to make that clear from the outset.
“I think the majority of people just want to know the principles above will be adhered to. That was certainly what I found during the many conversations I had on this issue during the election.
“It feels like this is going in the right direction, addressing the genuine need for new housing but regenerating as much brownfield land as possible and keeping any green belt release to the absolute minimum.
“Paul [Dennett], like me, is also committed to making sure any sites that are developed contain a mix of housing and include social and affordable properties too.”
Despite Mr Reynolds’ hopeful update, those opposed to the plans remain doubtful.
Debbie Phanjo, a key local campaigner to protect green belt land, said: “I have read his post and his GMSF submission.
“Comments like: ‘I think’, ‘real possibility’, ‘confirm in principle their commitment’, ‘undertaking a major study’, ‘must be possible’. I am not holding my breath.
“What is the saying? It’s not over until the fat lady sings.”

Find out more about the GMSF online: www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/GMSF

3 Replies to “Sidebottom Fold Farm saved from development in new homes plans?”

  1. No.This is just a short term reprieve – the country desperately needs houses – at least 200-300 thousand a year especially social housing so I don’t expect anything other than a short-term postponement of this decision to build.With a change of government ,650 “executive” homes could quite properly easily become 1200 smaller units for social housing even including high rise .Nimbyism has had its way for far too long in this country and people should reflect that all the houses in Stalybridge bordering this land are built on what was at the time Green Belt as well.Further the “brownfield” sites .mentioned include much of what is left for car parking in Stalybridge where soon there will be little or none sounding the death knell for retail businesses other than Tesco in the town.People with thin purses travel by public transport while people with fat wallets travel by car.”Not in my backyard” destroys communities it does not build them while “Green Belt” is destroying the hopes of millions of young people of having a home of their own which their parents acquired much more easily in earlier less selfish times..

  2. This isn’t nimbyism at all . Along a half mile length of Huddersfield Road open fields , a stud and even a grade 2 listed building and conservation land have already gone to housing. The road is a nightmare , schools , dentists and doctors are full to capacity. Not nimbyism at all but a will to protect greenbelt which is accessible and used by all and rapidly disappearing under concrete . There is more than enough long term empty properties to fulfill housing needs which aren’t being considered . Repurposing existing buildings brings new life , vitality and community to towns .neglected for years . And if you think that the developments proposed will provide affordable housing then look at whats being built . Not starter homes at reasonable prices but 4 and 5 bedroom houses upwards of £450,000 . In an area with little or no prospects of work that will help people afford these houses then its clear they will be sold not to locals in need but to commuters further exacerbating the difficulties of the local infrastructure . Though not favoured by the local MP people have requested brownfield and empty properties be utilised first building affordable housing in smaller developments thus minimising the pressure on the infrastructure . There are more intelligent ways to deliver the required housing without destroying green belt .

  3. Dear Val – Sorry but you are quite wrong.Stalybridge is a dying town largely because few people with a high income lives here any more.You only have to look to see that .That houses are to be built for higher income families should be welcomed not moaned about.If anything such a development will raise house prices in the area because it has become a more desirable place to live.Something that benefits all owner-occupiers even those who bought their council house.The nonsense about the infrastructure being already overloaded may well be presently true but it won’t improve by simply maintaining the status quo. Low-cost housing is a problem everywhere but I beg to point out that Tameside as a whole has a superfluity of social housing with its many council estates,though some of the houses have been sold under right-to-buy and then often sold on to private landlords with consequent higher rents.There is also a large number of terraced properties in Stalybridge that are probably sold at the lowest prices in Greater Manchester.They could not be much more affordable. As to “repurposing”existing buildings that is immensely costly both in updating & subsequent maintainance. How energy efficient are they going to be? I restate my point too about car parking in the town so that people can shop in Stalybridge.I shall be interested to see just how much residents’ parking there is to be in the new block of flats in Armentieres Square.The residents will certainly have a grand view of the site of the old lavatory block that the council closed & then knocked down leaving the town without any public toilets and an unsightly mess.One only has to look at the city of Manchester to see what happens when you go all out for city-centre homes – block after block of buy-to-let properties let by and large for multiple occupation by young people who are largely itinerant – moving every 6 mnths with the telly and a cuple of holdalls in the back of an Uber .No parks anywhere and certainly not a place to raise children.There are plenty of open spaces quite adjacent to Bottomfold Farm & who walks there now?.Stalybridge to revive needs two things – more homes and more money coming into the town so I beg to point out that a development such as that proposed will bring both.If Stalybridge doesn’t get this development some other town in another borough will and Stalybridge will have lost out.Nobody should sneer at “commuters”.What else is the SNCF Metrolink tram system for?

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