After being refused by the council in December last year, proposals by Russells Homes to build a link road and 265 homes off Knowls Lane in Oldham will be reconsidered next week.
Russells is proposing to build a mix of houses on the undeveloped plot, which has been allocated for housing under Oldham’s Local Plan since 2006, albeit for 232 homes.
The 39-acre site in the Lees area of Oldham is primarily greenfield land and stretches from Knowls Lane to the south to mature woodland and Thornley Brook to the north.
Plans were put forward in 2017, but Oldham’s planning committee decided to rule against the scheme in December last year. The committee argued the scheme would not “improve the economic, social, and environmental conditions of the area”, and added that Russells was “unwilling to amend the proposal to make the development acceptable”.
The main bone of contention over the initial proposals was the loss of designated open land to the east of the site; councillors argued the harm caused by the loss of open space would “significantly and demonstrably outweigh the acknowledged benefits of the scheme”.
Russells, working with masterplanner IBI, has put forward a refreshed proposal for the site in a hybrid application; this includes a full application for the link road, and outline permission for housing.
The link road is set to run between Knowls Lane to Ashbrook Road, running from north to south to the west of the site; this will cross Thornley Brook via a raised covert.
For the housing, Russells is proposing up to 265 homes; the mix of size, type, and tenure will be determined via a reserved matters application but at present the developer is proposing 60 affordable homes, around 23% of the total.
According to planner Barton Willmore, the development will realise a number of economic benefits. These include a £37.4m investment in the construction phase, along with 150 construction jobs over seven years; more than £416,000 per year in council tax revenues; and a £1.3m new homes bonus.
The planner added the new link road, worth approximately £3.5m, would address “a known bottleneck within the local highway network” and would provide “enhanced connectivity between the north and south side of Thornley Brook valley”.
Ahead of a planning committee next week, Oldham Council’s planning officers have recommended the scheme for approval. Although officers acknowledge the impact on open space, planners argued the need for additional housing supply in the area would be the primary consideration in approving the plans.
“The requirement to significantly boost the supply of housing in the district, coupled with the fact that there have been very few major planning applications for housing submitted to and approved by the council in the past 10 years in the Saddleworth West and Lees ward, attracts substantial weight in favour of granting planning permission for the proposals”, said the officers’ report.
The scheme is recommended for the go-ahead subject to a Section 106 agreement; this includes 60 affordable homes on the site; off-site highways works worth £115,000; management of open space; and a transfer of a parcel of land to St Agnes Primary School.
Alongside Barton Willmore and IBI, the professional team on the project includes Turley; REC; e3p; Sutcliffe; Axis; and Orion Heritage.