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  • Writer's pictureNoel

The light at the end of the tunnel…

Councillor Hannah Roberts, Cabinet Member for Housing at OMBC, has announced that the Hanging Chadder allocation will not be included in the third iteration of the GMSF, rebranded as “Places for Everyone”. This will hopefully see Thornham’s Green Belt left fully intact.

Obviously this is very welcome news, and it is fantastic to see all of our hard work and the generous support of the community finally pay off. The fact is though, that the Green Belt grab in Thornham was never going to survive fully-funded legal scrutiny. Green Belt boundaries are supposed to be permanent and can only be altered in exceptional circumstances. Most Green Belt battles are lost mainly because residents do not have the funds to legally oppose them. Our fundraising has put us in a strong position to legally oppose the plan. While you can never guarantee victory, our planner was confident about our chances. If Labour OMBC had proceeded with its attempt to take Thornham’s Green Belt it would have come at a huge political cost for them. The big question facing us now, is where does the campaign go from here? Save Royton’s Greenbelt is taking no chances. We will be adopting a “wait and see” approach for the next few months. No decisions regarding the fate of the campaign will be taken until "Places for Everyone" is published this summer.

There is also the question of campaign funds. The bulk of our funds are invested in the 200 Club, in which our patrons have donated £200 each to undertake legal action to specifically challenge the two Thornham allocations. This money was donated on the proviso that any unused funds would be returned on a pro-rata basis if they were not fully swallowed up by legal action. This money is fully accounted for and preserved in our account. None of this fund has been used to date, so all contributors to the 200 Club currently stand to receive back 100% of their investment. As things stand, if and when we are eventually satisfied that the new plan contains no nasty surprises for residents of Thornham, this money will be returned to our patrons, after publication of the "Places for Everyone" documentation. We expect this to be sometime during summer 2021.

The other funds we hold have been raised from general donations, sales of preloved items, the calendar sales and the lottery. Some of these funds are already committed to a general action, directed by the Save Greater Manchester’s Greenbelt umbrella group, which has secured the services of Leith Planning Group to draft a response to the plan. This response will address all the Green Belt allocations across Greater Manchester (including our two Royton South sites), and we remain fully committed to that process. The general everyday costs of website hosting, licensing, printing and other general administration expenses will continue to be paid for from these general funds for the time being.

We are greatly encouraged by the news and wish to thank everyone who has supported the campaign in some way, either by attending the protests, volunteering their time, or by donating money or preloved items to be sold. It has been a long, arduous slog (over 4 years). We are not quite out of the woods yet, and we will be keeping a close eye on developments over the next few months and we promise to keep you updated.

The Save Royton’s Greenbelt organising committee.


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