800-home Salford scheme deleted from Places for Everyone
Controversial plans to redevelop 74 acres north of Irlam station have been ripped up by the Planning Inspectorate due to concerns about harm to the peatland habitat.
The site, which includes part of the Chat Moss peat bog, was earmarked for 800 homes in Places for Everyone, the Greater Manchester joint spatial plan.
However, following a hearing that went into detail on several peatland allocations earlier this month, the Planning Inspectorate has ruled that the delivery of new homes on the site would not outweigh the harm caused by “the loss or deterioration of an irreplaceable habitat”.
The allocation, which is in multiple ownerships, had already been significantly scaled back.
Following Stockport Council’s decision to walk away from the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework 2020, the site was halved in size from 144 acres to 74 with the number of homes also slashed.
Now the Chat Moss allocation has been deleted altogether, much to Salford City Council’s disappointment.
Cllr Mike McCusker, lead member for planning, transport and sustainable development at Salford City Council, said: “We are acutely aware of the need for a supply of truly affordable housing in this area…and we feel this very sustainably located site could have provided a significant number of affordable homes in the most sustainable way, making a positive difference to hundreds of families.”
“There are 4,097 people currently on the housing waiting list and 584 households in temporary accommodation.”
McCusker added also suggested that Natural England, which led the fight for the allocation to be removed, had changed its position late in the day.
“We’re disappointed with the inspectors’ recommendation that the infrastructure-led North of Irlam Station allocation be removed from the Places for Everyone, particularly as this was based on representations from Natural England who substantially changed their position very late in the examination process, despite having had ample opportunities to make their revised position clear earlier in the process.
He said the city council would write to Natural England “to understand its proposals to accelerate peat restoration on Chat Moss, in line with Greater Manchester’s overall aims” but believes the chances of effective restoration are “low” unless the government provides funding.
McCusker added: “The development of this site could have generated much-needed funding for compensatory restoration in another area of Chat Moss so that it could act as an ecological asset and carbon sink, which would be very unlikely to happen without government funding or the possibility of carbon offsetting funding.
“This is particularly the case given national government’s apparent commitment to continue its austerity agenda with a disproportionate impact on local authorities and its rowing back on the priority being given to tackling climate change in both policy and resource terms.”
While the Irlam allocation was binned, the other peat sites discussed at the hearings have been retained within the Places for Everyone plan. These are:
- Port of Salford extension – 267 acres earmarked for 3.4m sq ft of industrial space
- East of Boothstown – 350 homes across 74 acres being led by Peel L&P
- Ashton Moss West – 143 acres between Droylsden and Ashton earmarked for a 1.7m sq ft employment scheme
- New Carrington – 4,500 homes and 4m sq ft of employment space
- Heywood/Pilsworth – land allocated for the creation of Atom Valley, a 17m sq ft advanced manufacturing cluster
These projects can go ahead because, according to inspectors, their benefits outweigh the harm to the peat bogs. Modifications have been suggested so as to minimise the impact on the habitat.