AS Bury gets to grips with the idea of the possibility of thousands of new homes being built in the borough under the impending Spatial Framework, the amenities that will be vital to help build and support the new communities have come under the spotlight.

PREPARATIONS that must be put in place in readiness for thousands of new homes that could be built across Bury came up for discussion this week.

Both councillors and the health bosses, the Clinical Commissioning Group set their minds to facilities that will have to be put in place to cater for thousands of extra families.

They would move into the area once the much-delayed Greater Manchester Spatial Framework has been agreed and signed off. Under the first plan, it was proposed that 12,000 new homes could be built across the borough.

A row was sparked at last week’s full council meeting after a Conservative motion asking planning officers to ensure that developers wishing to build more than 25 homes invest in the surrounding area was voted down.

Conservatives wanted planning officers to introduce a draft policy ahead of the release of the Spatial Framework, which is currently expected to be delayed for the fifth time.

Group leader Cllr James Daly accused Labour of kicking plans to make developers contribute towards building and maintaining schools and roads in the borough ‘into the long grass’.  Labour forced through their own amendment, which they claimed ‘supported the aims’ of the initial motion. 

Cllr Daly accused them of ‘not acting swiftly to protect the interests of residents’.

Introducing the motion, Cllr Daly cited a forthcoming application to build more than 270 homes on the former Tetrostyl site in Walmersley.

He said: “In discussions with council planning officers, I have been told that there will be no section 106 contribution requested from Barratt in respect of the extra school places that will be needed.

“There are quite clear costs that will arise from building these homes. There are not enough school places in the north of the borough to accommodate this application.
“Who is going to pick up the tab for this extra school places?

“If you have an additional 500 or 600 cars going down a road that has its limitations to start off with, the wear and tear will be such that it will require more maintenance and resurfacing.

“We welcome development, but we cannot just simply say developers are going to build this many houses and not invest anything in the local economy. We do not have a great deal of money to invest in our highways.

“It is fair and proportionate to put in place a policy that requires developers to make a contribution to do that.”

Tabling the amendment, Labour’s cabinet member for finance and housing, Cllr Eamonn O’Brien, said the council already had measures in place to ensure education provision was linked to development.

He added that planning restrictions meant the council could ask developers to contribute towards new roads, but not the maintenance of existing ones.

The amendment sought to request planning officers to consider including a Local Plan policy requiring road maintenance costs to be imposed in new large-scale developments. 

“When we can work together with developers, we will,” said Cllr O’Brien.

The carried motion also included measures to ensure developers’ excuses for being unable to contribute would be made public.

After the amendment was carried, Cllr Daly expressed his disappointment, and added: “This is a matter of urgency.

“We need to protect the interests of residents now rather than kicking this into the long grass.

“Unless this policy is put in place then these issues will not be considered in relation to planning applications prior to the Local Plan being accepted.

“Based upon past experience, this could be many years away.”