Protestors ready to get their point over

Mike Worden
Mike Worden
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SCORES of demonstrators are set to protest ahead of a council meeting against the threat of building new housing in their village.

Supporters of action group Save Standish are promising councillors a noisy welcome on Wednesday evening as they arrive for the full council meeting which is set to finally vote on the borough’s revised core strategy.

They are demanding that town hall chiefs refuse to ratify the all-encompassing master plan which has taken four years of work and five separate consultations, because it gives the go-ahead for 1,000 homes to be built in the village.

Protestors insist that the roads, medical and education infra-structure can’t cope with the potential influx of so many new families and their vehicles.

They hope to lobby councillors gathering for the monthly meeting to reject the Core Strategy in its entirety.

But council Head of Planning and Transport Mike Worden said that rejecting the plan would leave a “planning free for all” in the borough which wouldn’t be in the interests of residents or existing businesses and employers.

Save Standish chairman Councillor Gareth Fairhurst is urging “all residents who want to save Standish” to attend the lobby.

However he confirmed that although the group have been in talks with specialist legal counsel over a possible Judicial Review in the High Court, it has yet to make a final decision on whether to commit to it. It has six weeks from the date of the council meeting to lodge such an appeal.

He went on to praise the way the majority in the village community had backed the campaign so far.

He said: “ Standish residents are stead fast in their desire to stop these houses being built. It is a disgrace that we are even in this position but residents want to come and protest and we are asking for residents to come along and attend.”

Head of Planning Mr Worden said that the decision to recommend the Core Strategy followed legal advice from expert counsel Jonathan Easton that a refusal by councillors would have left the borough without a legal planning framework.

That in turn could have left it open to continual and costly challenge and litigation over any applications that were subsequently refused - because there is already currently “available” housing zone land for more than 2,500 plots.

Failure to adopt the strategy would have left the local authority legally defenceless to attempt to control or oppose developers’ attempting to bring each one forward for housing immediately.

Mr Worden also points out that the terms of the Core Strategy will now tie housing developers into submitting applications in which at least 25 per cent of homes are affordable.

He said: “The alternative, at this late stage, if the council had decided to reject the Core Strategy, would potentially be an absolute development free-for-all.

“This would not, we are sure, be what the vast majority of residents or businesspeople would have wanted for the borough.

“Adopting the Core Strategy will leave the council in a better position than a lot of other local authorities in that we will have a development frame work to take us forward, unlike councils such as Salford, Rochdale and Bury, which have found themselves unable to agree a suitable plan.

“There will always be some people with different interests and views not going to be happy with all aspects of the Core Strategy.

“But it will leave the borough a more attractive proposition to live and work in because all interested parties will know what is likely to happen in their locality.”