Woodford Green Belt Under Threat – You Can Help!

The recently formed Woodford Neighbourhood Forum has followed keenly the progress of the proposed development at the former Woodford Aerodrome site. The Forum has been very active in pursuing appropriate and proportionate development.

As previously reported, Stockport Planning and Highways Regulation Committee voted, by a very narrow margin, to approve the Harrow planning application for a development of up to 920 houses plus a 100-unit extra care unit on the former BAE site. Last week Stockport Council wrote to the Secretary of State saying that, given the nature and scale of the Woodford Aerodrome development, the application was being put forward for him to consider whether he concurs with the position reached by the authority. The Secretary of State will only investigate (“call in”) the application through a public inquiry if he believes that it is in contravention of Green Belt policy and guidelines. He has 21 days to decide whether to call it in or not. That clock is already ticking.

The latest government planning guidelines, (6th October 2014), make it clear that, once established, Green Belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances, through the preparation or review of a Local Plan. The planning application for the Woodford Aerodrome site alters Green Belt boundaries. The Forum does not believe that Stockport Council has prepared or reviewed a Local Plan which take the boundary changes into account, nor does it believe the circumstances are exceptional. Therefore, the application is in contravention of these guidelines.

The sheer scale of this proposed development will have wide ranging, adverse impacts on our area and as such we urge you to make representations by post or email to the Secretary of State, The Rt Hon Eric Pickles as soon as possible. Please see below for contact details.

Your letter should emphasise the fact that the application is, we believe, in contravention of Green Belt Policy and guidelines as there is significant erosion of the local Green Belt area. Please refer to the application – number DC/053832, Woodford Aerodrome Opportunity Site. It is concerns about Green Belt which will determine whether or not the application gets called in. We want him to call a public inquiry because giving permission for housing on land allocated as green belt raises issues of regional and national importance.

In addition, there is no harm in including other concerns you may have, such as:

o                The trebling in size of this small rural community

o                Loss of rural village character in Woodford – visited by walkers and cyclists from neighbouring communities

o                Significant increase in traffic volumes in neighbouring communities

o                Overloading of already stretched services and facilities, such as doctors and schools, in neighbouring communities

o                Lack of employment opportunities in the area

Personal letters expressing your own views are preferable. However, if you would prefer to use a template letter, please click on the link to down load a Word doc which you can alter to suit.

Please write by the 18th October or email by 21st October to beat the 21 day deadline to:

The Rt Hon Eric Pickles, DCLG, 2 Marsham Street, London. SW1P 4DF
or email:eric.pickles@communities.gsi.gov.uk

The 21-day window closes on 22nd October 2014, but the Forum was informed late on 8th October by the National Planning Casework Unit, which is dealing with SMBC’s submission, that a decision could be made sooner which makes the matter all the more urgent.

Our local community needs your support. This issue ultimately affects us all so please don’t rely on others to write in – do your bit to help and act now.

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