RESIDENTS have won the first round in their battle to stop developers building scores of homes on open land.
Planning chiefs bowed to an outcry from the surrounding community and deferred making a decision on Seddon Home’s application to build 100 home in Atherton until they have conducted a site visit next month.
The proposal has generated a giant wave of opposition from locals, including two protest petitions containing more than 640 signatures and 119 letter of objection including Leigh MP Andy Burnham and ward councillors Norman Bradbury, Susan Loudon, Jamie Hodgkinson, and Mark and Karen Aldred.
Opponents say the construction work, targeted on land off Bee Fold Lane, would destroy one of Atherton’s last green spaces.
Barbara Constantine, from protest group Aspect, represented the objectors as their official witness to the planning committee.
She said that a Government review of the council’s core strategy had recommended the safeguarded land in Atherton at the centre of the dispute was not needed for development to ease the area’s short-term housing need.
She said: “Allowing this application would represent an unacceptable departure from the Core Strategy and to allow it would set a precedent over a much wider area of the borough also not included in it.
“There have always been major concerns about the stablilty of the land for any kind of construction because of the long history of coal mining and the large scale remedial works that would be required.
She added that Seddons’ are now moving to develop the land because other housebuilders working at other locations such as North Leigh have been slower to develop their own estates than originally calculated.
Aspect had been calling for residents affected by the development to attend the planning meeting to show councillors and officers the strength of feeling.
However, Sarah Jones, for Seddon Homes, told the meeting: “This is a modest project but one that will make a valuable contribution to the range of housing in Atherton. The area isn’t included in the Core Strategy but has been accepted by the planning officers as suitable for housing.