A campaign to remove green belt land in Walshaw from a borough-wide housing plan has been unsuccessful, the council has confirmed.

Council cabinet members announced last week that the 158-acre site in Walshaw will remain part of Places for Everyone (PfE) despite cross-party support to remove it from the masterplan.

The land has previously been earmarked for 1,250 homes under the plans.

PfE is a long-term scheme backed by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up and aims to address housing, jobs and sustainable development need across nine boroughs of Greater Manchester.

The proposals will see close to 165,000 new homes build across the region covering the period up to 2039.

Walshaw’s inclusion in the PfE scheme has drawn criticism from residents, councillors, and MPs due to its proximity to greenbelt land.

In September last year, councillors including Elton representative, Charlotte Morris, who launched the Take Walshaw Out campaign, welcomed news that the council would request the ward’s removal from PfE.

Bury Times: A 158-acre site in Walshaw will remain in the plan despite objectionsA 158-acre site in Walshaw will remain in the plan despite objections

However, it was confirmed at an "extra ordinary meeting" of the overview and scrutiny committee last Wednesday, that planning inspections had declined this request.

The announcement came before cabinet members met to discuss modifications to the proposals ahead of a six-week consultation period, in which councillors also discussed Walshaw.

Council leader, Cllr Eamonn O’Brien, said: “The request for Walshaw to be removed has not been successful. The planning inspectors have indeed kept that in.

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“You’ll see in the wider suite of modifications that some districts, entire sites have been taken out as a result of the work of the inspectors but in Bury that has not been the case.”

During the meeting last week, Crispian Logue, assistant director (strategy, planning and regulation), explained that removing Walshaw from the plan would make it harder for the council to meet PfE targets.

He said: “We wouldn’t have enough brownfield land with the additional land we’ve found to make even the PfE figures.

“If we were to do a local plan it wouldn’t be just as simple as having the green belt sites minus Walshaw, we would still have to have greenbelt sites to meet the PFE target.”

Bury Times: Cabinet members approved modifications to the Places for Everyone plan last weekCabinet members approved modifications to the Places for Everyone plan last week (Image: Bury Council)

Mr Logue pointed out that Whitefield and some sites in Elton Reservoir and Simister had already been removed.

Cllr O’Brien added that local authorities in other parts of the country have also been blocked from removing green belt land from housing plans.

The main modification to the PfE plan that affects Bury is the inspectors’ view that the majority of the proposed green belt additions should not be taken forward.

This is because they are not deemed to meet the purposes for green belt. There have also been some amendments to the wording of policies to provide clarity on certain issues.

The inspectors have concluded that all of Bury’s strategic sites proposed for employment opportunities or housing should remain in the plan.

This means that the Northern Gateway site continues to be identified as a large, nationally significant location for new employment-led development within both Bury and Rochdale.

It means that housing sites in Walshaw, Simister/Bowlee, Elton Reservoir and Seedfield will remain in the plan. 

Bury Times: Elton Reservoir also remains in the plan despite some controversy Elton Reservoir also remains in the plan despite some controversy (Image: Newsquest)

The PfE masterplan will now go to an eight-week consultation from Wednesday, October 11.

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After the meeting, Cllr O’Brien said: “It is essential that we have a comprehensive, up-to-date planning framework that will guide development in our borough for many years to come.

“This modified plan retains the significant new employment opportunities, addresses our need to deliver medium to long-term housing sites that will provide quality new homes, including hundreds of affordable homes, and the infrastructure to support new development.

“While we are disappointed that the inspectors have not proposed to modify the plan further to remove the Walshaw site, the modified plan, on balance, should still be supported as it continues to promote the vast majority of development to brownfield sites across the nine districts, as we have been doing in Bury.

“Even with Walshaw retained, the plan allows us to protect more green belt land that would otherwise be the case if we were not able to off-set some of the Government’s housing targets to other parts of Greater Manchester through the joint plan.”