PETITIONERS have rallied against the initial proposal of building houses on protected grounds, on moving the green belt from Flixton.
Trafford council are proposing to move the green belt status from “The Bird in Hand Flixton to Flixton railway station along Flixton Road (existing) to the Church Road side of the railway line for its entire length.
If given the green light, the Government have promised to pay councils £9,000 for each home that they build – which could possibly include Flixton’s green belt, along with an additional 13 protected lands where development is supposedly limited.
It is part of the larger plan, known as the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework – in which also includes: Trafford, Salford, Stockport, Bury, Oldham and Rochdale. A quarter of this plan involves green belts in these areas – with councils insisting on using industrial land beforehand.
Matt Goddard, member of the ‘Save Flixton’s Green Belt’ Facebook group, says:
“I am originally from Flixton (1980-2009) but now reside in Stretford. I played on the fields as a child and have fond memories of Flixton house, the gardens and the heritage of the area, most of which is now gone.
“Although just speculation currently; if the government is incentivising local authorities to develop greenbelt land as CRPRE are stating then of course cash strapped councils are going to try and get a piece of the pie. If it is proven that central government have been doing this – some serious questions will have to be asked as it directly contradicts the aims and objectives of the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) national planning legislation that the incumbent government actually brought in!”
He also added: “I attended the drop in at Urmston Library and the Q&A at UGS. The initial meeting at the library was very well attended but unfortunately not suited to the community’s need to find answers. There was a lot of anger as to why the site had been selected, and the reasoning for the whole of the site being removed from the greenbelt.
“I stated that Flixton site had apparently been earmarked for development due to the number of golf courses in the area Flixton Davyhulme (and William Wroe), its close proximity to the Carrington housing site (this enables them to focus infrastructure improvements in a smaller area) and that Flixton Train station was a ‘Transport Hub’ I enquired why Altrincham Municiple golf course had not even been considered as a possible location as it seemed to satisfy William Wroes criteria (surrounded by 3 golf courses Dunham, Ringway, Hale and Altrincham Municiple, next to the Davenport Green site (share infrastructure improvements) and half a mile away from Altrincham interchange (Trams, trains and buses).
“I did not get a straight answer from the leader of Trafford Council, Cllr Anstee – but Paul obviously felt that the line of questioning could help the process (which it could). If there has not been a transparent site selection process, then you could argue the process is flawed. I am a Landscape Architect by profession, so I have an understanding of the planning process and land designations” he said.
“I attended the drop in at Urmston Library and the Q&A at UGS. The initial meeting at the library was very well attended but unfortunately not suited to the community’s need to find answers. There was a lot of anger as to why the site had been selected, and the reasoning for the whole of the site being removed from the greenbelt.
“I agree we need housing, affordable housing too but I believe the site and scale of the development are wrong. The planning department need to justify exceptional circumstances to realign greenbelt boundaries – as I believe the 750 units of housing can be spread over the whole of the borough (some in Flixton too I’m no NIMBY), and I think Trafford know this too which undermines their justification of the exceptional circumstances.
“The local planning authority have suggested at the UGS Q&A, that an open green space designation will protect this in the long term but unfortunately this just is not true. Designations made in the local plan are only protected as long as the local plan is relevant. As soon as there is a change in government there is usually a change in planning policy which means local plans are redrawn (Trafford’s last set of policy maps were drawn in 2013 and now they are getting redrawn again). The last time the greenbelt boundary was redrawn was back in 1984!
“Not only is this greenbelt, it’s high quality greenbelt, in that its public green open space, not farmers’ fields, power-stations, flood plain etc. That’s an important distinction that Sean Anstee was unfortunately oblivious to. Schools in the area are already oversubscribed and with no new schools being built within the Flixton vicinity and extra 750 families will only exacerbate the issue.”
A spokesperson for Trafford Council states: “As regards to Flixton House and gardens, Flixton Park and playing fields these all remain protected from development as part of the proposed allocation.
“While the proposal is for this to be removed from the green belt, Flixton House would remain as a heritage asset with its protection as a Grade II listed building and the other areas would retain the open spaces protection which they currently have.
“The allocation outside of the green belt designation is to ensure a defensible green belt boundary but in no way should be interpreted as allowing development in future with the land retaining protected status.
“The site is being considered as it could provide a range of significant benefits and help meet the expected increased demand over the next 20 years for more homes, including family homes, improvements to transport infrastructure and education provision.
“This new infrastructure would not only serve a new sustainable community, but would also be beneficial for existing Flixton and Davyhulme residents.”
Visit http://trafford.gov.uk/ for more information
Or alternatively join the ‘Save Flixton’s Green Belt’ group on Facebook