Salford Labour councillors are up in arms about new threats to open green space, up until now protected by council planning policy.
The courts have decided that rules introduced by the Tory Government mean local policies to protect open space take second place to developers’ ambitions.
Labour’s decision to reject a plan by Peel Holdings to build new homes at Broadoak must now be reconsidered after the Tory minister claimed he was wrong to back the Council.
Peel argued that the council’s decision was in conflict with the National Planning Policy Framework, which holds a ‘presumption in favour of development’.
Local councillor for Walkden South, Richard Critchley said:
‘This is a Government bungle of catastrophic proportions. It all stems from the Tory belief that planning interferes with the free market.
‘Salford Tories have been the cheerleaders for this policy - backing the Government when Tories elsewhere cautioned against changes in planning policy.
‘At a time where we are losing many other amenities and services due to Tory austerity, the area is a inexpensive and popular resource where the community can relax and socialise.
‘It's especially sad for Ben Wallsworth, former Salford planning chairman and now in his 90s, who established the Council's policy of protecting Broadoak.'
Many local voices have raised concerns about the planned proposals, as Broadoak is a valued green space used regularly by walkers and local residents. The Labour council’s lead member for planning Derek Antrobus said:
‘Broadoak is land which should remain a green space, creating a walking and cycling route between Walkden, Worsley, Monton and Eccles.
‘The public inquiry will be re-run - but now the assumption must be that Government policy is to put local concerns about green spaces second place, behind developers' search for profit.
‘In the meantime we will call on the Government to give power back to the planners instead of handing it over to rich developers.
‘We think we have a case, but the only sure way of protecting our most valuable open space is to change the law - or change the Government.’