Thousands protest over 150 homes and park bid
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