“We must not do this – it is a betrayal of future generations”

Campaigners have launched a legal challenge to prevent vast swathes of Greater Manchester’s green belt land being gobbled up for development. One of the leaders of the Save Greater Manchester Greenbelt (SGMG) group has described the “takeover” of 34 green belt areas in the Places for Everyone (PfE) strategic plan, which outlines planning goals for the next 17 years, as a “betrayal of future generations”.

SGMG hired lawyers from law firm Leigh Day and applied for a judicial review of the PfE, now ratified by nine participating boroughs in Greater Manchester, with only Stockport opting out. Legal papers were sent to the nine authorities by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Housing, Housing and Communities and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, on April 30.

The vice president of SGMG, Marj Powner, said that a response to the claim from the authorities is expected by May 24. She said: “Even without the release of any green belt sites, there is enough supply of brownfield land to create two new boroughs. Given this level of growth, we don’t think it’s necessary and it’s a betrayal of future generations.”

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Ms Powner admitted the amount of green belt set to be taken under the PfE had been reduced by 50% during lengthy consultations on the plan, but said it should actually be “zero”. She continued: “If you have 170,000 brownfield homes (the PfE target), that’s the equivalent of an increased population of over 400,000 people.

A field grain at Carrington Moss

“If we’re going to increase the population of Greater Manchester by 400,000 – the equivalent of creating two new boroughs – why do we also have to free up green belt land, which is so important to mitigating the climate emergency and supporting nature’s recovery? We don’t have to do that. It is not a matter of need that we launch the green belt.”

Ms Powner said nowhere in the PfE plan was land set aside in Greater Manchester for a new hospital to meet the needs of the extra 400,000 people. Meanwhile, campaigners are appealing for people to contribute to the costs of the legal challenge, which are estimated to be around £100,000.

A potato field at Carrington Moss

“Our initial aim is to raise £30,000 and we will continue to raise cash as the case continues.” Mrs Powner is also chairman of Friends of Carrington Moss and a staunch opponent of Trafford council’s bid to build the £78m Carrington Relief Road.

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