Stockport Express

Thou­sands protest over 150 homes and park bid

- NICK STATHAM Society · United Kingdom · Hazel Grove · MAN Diesel & Turbo SE · Metropolitan Borough of Stockport

AMANUFACTU­RING firm has un­veiled plans to build 150 homes be­hind its UK HQ and turn the rest of the land into an ‘in­for­mal coun­try park’ - but thou­sands have al­ready signed a pe­ti­tion against the pro­posal.

The scheme would see around a fifth of the land at Mir­rlees Fields, in Hazel Grove, sac­ri­ficed for new hous­ing, with the re­main­ing 53 acres to be held in trust for the en­joy­ment of the pub­lic.

Hazel Grove-based MAN En­ergy Solutions says that ‘ Mir­rlees Park’ would be the largest pub­lic green space in the area, ideal for fam­i­lies, cy­clists and jog­gers.

Boast­ing new ‘na­ture trails’ it prom­ises there will be ‘un­fet­tered ac­cess’ for schools, scouts and youth groups, as well as for staff and pa­tients at nearby Step­ping Hill Hos­pi­tal.

Re­stric­tions pre­vent­ing peo­ple from ven­tur­ing be­yond the foot­paths and rights of way would also be re­moved, ‘en­abling much wider and flex­i­ble use of the space’.

The com­pany has now launched a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion ahead of sub­mit­ting a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion to Stock­port coun­cil.

Wayne Jones, chair­man of MAN En­ergy Solutions UK said: “We are seek­ing peo­ple’s views on what we be­lieve is a sus­tain­able and vi­able plan to cre­ate a fan­tas­tic new pub­lic amenity for the lo­cal com­mu­nity and we look for­ward to re­ceiv­ing and re­view­ing feed­back from the lo­cal com­mu­nity, be­fore sub­mit­ting a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion.”

But not ev­ery­one wel­comes the plans.

Cam­paign group Pro­tect Mir­rlees Fields has al­ready gath­ered more than 3,000 sig­na­tures against the pro­posal on an on­line pe­ti­tion.

They be­lieve the loss of ‘the big field’ would be a huge blow to the com­mu­ni­ties of Hazel Grove, Woodsmoor and Step­ping Hill and Great Moor.

Found­ing mem­ber Ruth He­witt says the ‘ serene’ en­vi­ron­ment is vi­tal for peo­ple’s well­be­ing, as well as be­ing a haven for all types of wildlife.

“Our goal is to en­sure this vi­tal green space is pro­tected, not just for lo­cal res­i­dents but for gen­er­a­tions to come,” she said. “As well as play­ing an im­por­tant part in peo­ple’s lives, the land is also home to a huge amount of wildlife, in­clud­ing bats, badges, buz­zards and wild­flow­ers.

“It’s im­por­tant we do all we can to pro­tect it”.

MAN En­ergy’s con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ments say the coun­try park would be held by a trust ‘in per­pe­tu­ity’, prefer­ably via the cre­ation of a Com­mu­nity In­ter­est Com­pany (CIC).

How­ever, Ruth re­mains ‘very cyn­i­cal’ about the pro­posal, say­ing sim­i­lar prom­ises were made when Mir­rlees Drive was cre­ated around ten years ago.

“It would be naive to think they won’t be back for what’s left. When they say it’s go­ing to be in trust, it can be sold on or be­come some­one else’s land again, it needs to be given to the pub­lic or the com­mu­nity,” she said.

“What I find infuriatin­g is the idea the re­main­ing bit will be called a ‘coun­try park’ and go into trust.

We have had no in­for­ma­tion or de­tail about this. It’s all fur coat and no knick­ers.”

The cam­paign also ques­tions whether roads, schools and surg­eries in the area could cope with the in­flux of new res­i­dents. The nearby A6 be­ing no­to­ri­ous for con­ges­tion and heavy traf­fic.

Pro­tect Mir­rlees Fields has also had the back­ing of Coun­cil­lor Tom Mor­ri­son, who said the fields were hugely im­por­tant to the well­be­ing of peo­ple in the area.

He said: “It’s clear there is huge pub­lic sup­port for the fields to be pro­tected. Dur­ing the COVID-19 lock­down peo­ple from across the area used this pre­cious green space to help with ex­er­cise and well­ness, any plans to limit peo­ple’s abil­ity to do this in the fu­ture should be pre­vented.”

The con­sul­ta­tion can be found here: mir­rleespark. com/

The pe­ti­tion can be found here: https://www. change. org/ p/ stock­port­coun­cil- save- mir­rleesfield­s- from- a-po­ten­tial­build­ing- de­vel­op­mentof-150-houses

 ??  ?? Mir­rlees Fields in Stock­port and (in­set) an artist’s im­pres­sion of how some of the homes could look
Mir­rlees Fields in Stock­port and (in­set) an artist’s im­pres­sion of how some of the homes could look

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