Green Party candidate Bryan Blears yesterday sent a letter to the Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham, calling his new housing proposals to build on Salford green belt “reckless and unsustainable”.

In the letter Mr Blears, who used to campaign with Andy Burnham, criticised the plans to develop housing on Salford green belt land in sites like Hazelhurst, Boothstown and North of Irlam Station.

He explained how on the Irlam Moss Green Belt only 150 of the 1600 proposed homes were allocated for social housing and another 150 for affordable rented accommodation, equating to less than 20 percent of the overall proposal.

Mr Blears was critical of the plan, saying: “This is an unacceptable release of green belt land which runs contrary to many of the key aims made throughout the GM plan.

“Of all the residents I have spoken to in Irlam, not one has felt that they or their families will benefit from the housing provision in the area, and feel strongly that the loss of access to nature in the area as well as the increased pollution from road traffic and from the build itself, will far outweigh any of the benefits to the development.”

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At the start of the letter Mr Blears admitted that the plan has some good points, in particular the commitments to better public transport and a commitment to improving air quality.

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He also welcomed the dedication to make sure that Greater Manchester was ‘carbon neutral’ by 2038.

However, Mr Blears claims the decision to build on green belt land goes against these aims saying it “should always be a last resort, and while this ethos is reflected within the language of the Greater Manchester plan, it is not reflected in its content.”

Mr Blears says that many residents feel like their views will be ignored and says that their concerns have “so far not been properly addressed.”

The Green Party candidate also questioned the planned £1 billion expansion of Manchester Airport saying that it “runs directly contrary to the city’s commitment to reduce emissions and
its carbon footprint.”

The green belt land at Hazelhurst Farm is another controversial spot as in the letter he claims that 400 houses are set to be built there but only 75 are planned for social housing, saying: “This is a disingenuous way of de-allocating Green Belt land under the guise of providing affordable and social housing.”

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Three main transport routes – the M60, A580 and the M61 – will be affected by this and Blears claims that this development would add to the usage of these regularly congested roads and “contribute to air pollution around Swinton, Wordley and Roe Green.”

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Mr Blears concluded the letter by saying : “It is my belief that the proposed allocations of green belt land in Salford run contrary to the stated aims of the plan as well as the values of our city and the wishes of local residents.

“As a result, they should be radically re-written or otherwise removed from the plan.”

Andy Burnham has not responded to a request to comment.

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