Sam Al-Hamdani

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A neighbourhood plan for Saddleworth

by samalhamdani on 23 January, 2020

Many of you will have seen the inclusion of a questionnaire on the Saddleworth Neighbourhood Plan that was included in the Saddleworth Independent, and which is also available online.

Having worked extensively on this for the cross-party Strategic Planning Committee (I never thought I would be on so many committees), I really believe that this neighbourhood plan can deliver concrete benefits for Saddleworth.

So, what is a neighbourhood plan, and how can it help?

Essentially, it is a way to influence planning across the whole of Saddleworth. While planning decisions themselves are taken at the Borough level, the neighbourhood plan allows the community to set their priorities for the area – saying what type of development is wanted where (housing, commercial, retail etc.), allowing us to identify key green spaces across the district, and influence how new buildings should look.

Once in place, the Neighbourhood Plan must be adopted by the local planning authority (Oldham) as part of its overall development plan. So, if it goes in to the Neighbourhood Plan, it must be considered by Oldham when they are making planning decisions. You can find a pretty good overview of the process here.

One thing I have heard a few times from people is that there are options missing from the survey – for example, the ability to say that there has already been enough development in Saddleworth.

The answer to that is that the Neighbourhood Plan can only cover those things that the Parish is allowed to decide. If an option isn’t there, it’s because we can’t do it. If you’d like to say that there should be no development on Green Belt, for example, the best thing to do is to respond to the – repeatedly delayed – Greater Manchester Plan.

The Borough Council has not kept up its local plan, as it was expecting this to be superseded by the Greater Manchester Plan, but the latest news, given the repeated delays, is that after much pressure, they will be putting forward an interim local plan, so there should be local consultation as soon as that process is underway.

I’d particularly like to thank all those who helped put this consultation together, not just the Parish Council members – and in particular committee chair Barbara Beeley – but the help that we have received from the Parish and District staff, and our non-political members, Andrew and Geoff.

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