Victory for protesters after Barton Moss U-turn.
posted by: Neal Keeling - Monday 8th March, 2010
PLANS to use 98 acres of prime greenbelt land for industrial use look set to be dropped.
Salford council had earmarked the land at Barton Moss, on the Eccles and Irlam border, to attract companies to the borough.
It would have meant either Grade I agricultural land or Boysnope Park golf course being ripped up to provide warehousing and other industry.
The site is to the west of City Airport Manchester – formerly Barton Aerodrome.
But the proposal triggered a wave of criticism from residents and politicians.
They feared major traffic congestion in the area as Trafford Centre owners, Peel Holdings already plan to open a huge freight terminal in Barton – Port Salford.
Salford City Reds rugby league team are also due to move into a new stadium in Barton in 2012. The council is borrowing £20m to build it.
Protestors staged a mass march in the location last month.
Now the city's planning boss says consultation with local people is likely to result in the proposal being ditched.
Councillor Derek Antrobus said: “I think it is fair to say there has been overwhelming public concern about the suggestion. I welcome that because I would be more concerned if their wasn't an outcry over the loss of greenbelt.
“But the objectors have also made telling points about the practicality of the idea. There are clear concerns about the way the need for employment land has been calculated.
Another major concern is about the impact on traffic. I don't think we can say anything certain about that until the planned Port Salford and Reds stadium are up an running.
We cannot risk the permanent loss of greenbelt land on the basis of evidence that is so uncertain. On the current evidence I would recommend that the council rejects the option to allocate greenbelt land.”
The proposal hand been included in the draft Core Strategy report which outlines the council's planning vision up to 2027.
The apparent U-turn comes just two months before the local elections.
It has been welcomed by former Labour councillors Roger Jones and Christine Hudson, who backed the local community in protesting against the idea.
In a joint statement, they said: “This is great news. It shows that a Labour council is genuine about consultation and listens to the arguments. It also shows how putting forward sound arguments delivers results.
The big debate now will be about those who want to support the Labour Council in protecting the greenbelt and those like Peel Holdings who want a mass of greenbelt to be released.”
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