Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Stockport should support Greater Manchester's plan for jobs and homes

Unlike most people I follow some of the twists and turns of local politics. The latest row is an attempt by the Liberal Democrats on Stockport Council to take our local area out of something called the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework. I wrote on this blog almost two years ago that it could well come a cropper in this very ward, as the Labour group on the council don't have the numbers without Conservative support. So, unless there are assurances on the zoning of house building land in High Lane, then I can't see our local Tory councillor backing it. Similarly, Heald Green don't seem to want any more houses either.

I hear the argument trotted out that it should be brownfield first. That's both a neat way of saying building should be of houses where no-one currently wants to live, and that there is a vast amount of former industrial land that no-one has thought of remediating and developing. It's not true. Brownfield costs a lot to develop, and even if all the sites are built, it only gets us so far. Also, this is a long term plan for a lot of houses over a long period of time, and priority is given to building around infrastructure. The new link road to the airport is hard infrastructure. It is meant to be built around.

A young person I know pointed out to me that those posters in High Lane with the slogan NO TO MASS DEVELOPMENT, and accompanied by a picture of a gas mask, are often at the end of driveways with two or three cars, sometimes 4x4 diesels. It's where irony parks his car. 

When I wrote about this in 2018 the trigger was a planning application in the centre of Marple to develop an old school building. People lost their heads about it, and said it shouldn't be developed because, er, they used to go to school there and it should be a community hub. I have lost count of the number of underused 'community hubs' and cafes in Marple. There was also an assumption it was going to look terrible. I walked past the building site yesterday and saw the apartments and a new Co-op store taking shape and frankly it's a massive improvement aesthetically. In time, it will be somewhere for people to live and add to the community in the centre of Marple, boosting the economy of the neighbourhood. 

It's an emotive issue and one I run the risk of being called out for. I'm involved in a controversial project at work, but I do so with a fervent belief in the need to build more homes. I was once asked HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT? if someone wanted to take land and build houses ON YOUR ROAD. My answer is simple, I did actively oppose Marple College selling land to a supermarket ON MY ROAD, but instead I equally actively supported housing on the site instead. I genuinely don't think my life, or that of my neighbours, has been worse as a result of the new estate being built.

It's easy to always be against stuff, the big challenge, the brave thing, is to say what you are for. Usually I'm for progress. Stockport should support Greater Manchester's plan for jobs and homes.

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