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  • Writer's pictureNoel

Divide and conquer: Thornham residents shouldn't throw a street party just yet...

Oldham Labour Party have saved Thornham Old Road from development. Or so they would have us believe. Despite the dubious merit of this claim (if somebody puts a gun to your head and then lowers it have they really saved you?), Save Royton's Greenbelt do not agree that Thornham Old Road is as safe as our local Councillors would have us believe. In fact, we believe the council has just set it up for speculative development.

It legally requires "exceptional circumstances" to remove land from the Green Belt. Save Royton's Greenbelt has consistently argued that these exceptional circumstances do not exist, and that large scale "sustainable development" (a requirement of the National Planning Policy Framework) is not possible in Thornham. The council has now created a conundrum for the Independent Planning Inspector by dropping one site and including the other, because the two sites are umbilically linked i.e. Hanging Chadder belongs to the same Green Belt parcel as Thornham Old Road, and is affected by the same common obstacles to sustainable development. In other words, Thornham Old Road and Hanging Chadder are not really two independent developments, they are a large development with a road through it.

Our argument to the Planning Inspector at the public inquiry will be that if exceptional circumstances do not apply to Thornham Old Road, and sustainable development cannot take place there, then exceptional circumstances do not not apply to Hanging Chadder and sustainable development cannot take place there either. Developers will use the exact same argument to argue the opposite: that if exceptional circumstance apply to Hanging Chadder then they apply to Thornham Old Road too, and if Hanging Chadder satisfies the criteria for sustainable development then so does Thornham Old Road.

Save Royton's Greenbelt and the developers will be arguing the exact same point. The Planning Inspector will have no option but to draw to the same conclusion: he will rule that both sites must be removed or that they must both be included. Communication with Councillor Hannah Roberts, since the Royton North Councillors announced the removal of Thornham Old Road, confirms our fears:

Councillor Hannah Roberts states: "As developers will be at the enquiry arguing for additional greenbelt sites to be included, and for some of those we have removed to be reinstated, I think it is sensible that Save Royton’s Greenbelt and other greenbelt groups are also there to argue their case."

In other words, Thornham Old Road is still in play if Hanging Chadder is. It is more important than ever to prepare for the fight ahead. Please do not be taken in by propaganda nor comforted by forked tongue...because when the diggers roll into Thornham it will be too late.

Some of our Thornham members have already started raising funds to legally appeal the two Thornham sites. Please consider joining the 200 club which will finance a Judicial Review for Hanging Chadder (and Thornham Old Road if it comes to that). If you live in the south of Royton and are interested in fundraising for Beal Valley and Broadbent Moss please get in to touch with us through the website.

Legal action is the only solution available to us. We believe the GMSF is unlawful and we believe we can prove it, but we need the people of Royton to get behind us to stop it.


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