Is it necessary to build on green belt in Trafford (or elsewhere in GM)? The short answer is NO!
At Trafford’s Scrutiny Committee on 12th January 2022, members were given a presentation about the Carrington Relief Road, providing some background to the initiative along with some information about the Option Appraisal for the preferred route, the engagement with the public and the next steps.
A member of the Scrutiny Committee requested a more balanced representation of the facts. The Carrington Relief Road documentation does seem to be plagued by the sheer volume of misinformation (see our letter to Trafford’s Chief Executive in February 2020 about the Outline Business Case document).
This is the second in our series of blogs which addresses the gaps in the information given at the meeting, providing further details to help members of the Scrutiny Committee and others, when reviewing the proceedings.
This blog focuses on the Places for Everyone Plan and the specific New Carrington Allocation.
The presentation given to Scrutiny Committee appeared to suggest that the proposal for the Carrington Relief Road in the 2012 Core Strategy instigated the huge development known as New Carrington. This does not seem plausible because, as noted in our previous blog, the road proposed in the 2012 Core Strategy was clearly much less intrusive than the current scheme and did not intend to decimate local green belt.
The presentation continued with information about the number of homes and employment space to be constructed in the area but failed to mention that 169 hectares of green belt will be released to make way for these plans. That is the equivalent of over 236 football pitches of peatland, wetland, woodland and grade 2 best and most versatile agricultural land that will no longer be available for future generations, not a sustainable solution!
It should be noted that the Places for Everyone proposals have NOT yet been approved, including the New Carrington Allocation, and will be subject to an Examination in Public later in 2022. Given this, questions should be asked about why Trafford are incurring expenditure through the acceleration of a project for a Relief Road, at this time of huge challenges for the public purse, when the primary aim (see GM Transport Strategy 2040) of that project is to support growth plans that have not yet been approved.
Whilst we welcome the reductions made to the New Carrington Allocation by Trafford’s leaders, we believe the development in Carrington, Partington and Sale West remains excessive.
The proposals for this one Ward (Bucklow St Martins) equates to over 20% of Trafford’s planned housing development for the next 16 years!
With a population increase for Partington of almost 72%, this is not a sustainable approach, but before we dig deeper into the plans for New Carrington, let’s look at this Regional Strategy now known as Places for Everyone.
Is the decision to release 2,430 hectares of green belt (the equivalent of 3,403 football pitches) across the Region necessary?
We don’t think so – read on to find out why.
GM’s leaders had the opportunity to choose from a number of spatial options for the Region, some of which did NOT require the release of green belt.
The Region is planning to build homes to meet the needs of an additional 450,000 people against an estimated natural population increase of 158,200. Of course, some growth would be expected but this rapid expansion of GM’s population is disproportionate, damaging and unsustainable.
It should be noted that ONS recently issued the latest population statistics (12th Jan 2022), which confirmed that the downward trend in projected UK population growth since 2016 is continuing. It is no surprise that the 2020-based population growth is, once again, slower than in the previous projections.
The available land supply across the GM Region (without the release of green belt) equates to 170,000 homes (which could meet the needs of over 400,000 people), more than sufficient to provide growth, along with flexibility and choice for both developers and customers. It is also adequate to meet the Government’s mandated housing need figure (without releasing any green belt land).
With these figures in mind, it is clear, there is NO justification to release green belt land anywhere in Greater Manchester.
So, why didn’t our leaders choose a spatial strategy aligned with their declarations of a climate emergency (made by all GM’s public bodies)? Did they fully understand the implications of all the options on the table?
The Public Transport Max spatial option is a better fit for GM’s contemporary needs.
What is in the New Carrington Masterplan?
The brownfield land in Carrington already has planning approval, as do the plots shown as PR4A in the graphic above (Heath Farm Lane).
Trafford has continued to commit to overdeveloping the area, granting planning applications despite resident concerns (particularly about the number of HGVs on local roads) and the lack of sustainable transport options.
Trafford acknowledges there is a major problem with HGV traffic in the area, yet, given their very positive approach to growth,
it is hard to understand why Trafford has not, OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS, progressed ANY option for passenger and freight transport other than the Carrington Relief Road.
Trafford’s officer mentioned that it had taken 100 years to become reliant on road transport. Does Trafford plan to take 100 years to start working on some sustainable solutions for the area, or is the aim to force residents to accept the need for a new road because of imprudence and inaction? We’ll examine the Option Appraisal for that new road in a future blog in this series.
Impending decisions are all about building on the 169 hectares of green belt!
As we set out in our open letter to all Trafford Councillors in advance of their decision to approve the Places for Everyone Plan, there are a number of inequities for Trafford residents and particularly for those who live in Carrington, Partington and Sale West, as a direct consequence of agreeing these proposals. Not least of which is the loss of access to green space and, therefore, to nature. There is also (for example) lack of access to affordable homes (only 15% in total for New Carrington), to local schools (where are they?) and to a diverse range of jobs (only industrial and warehousing on this site). And then there are the risks, such as exposure to harm from hazardous businesses, flooding, vermin infestation and increased air, noise and light pollution. We’ll say more about these issues in a future blog.
Given its location, these plans will see Carrington become a traffic island in a sea of air pollution and the current green lungs of the area, Carrington Moss, will no longer be there to help disperse all that polluted air.
During the presentation, Trafford’s officer suggested that the Carrington Relief Road would take traffic away from the very narrow and congested A6144. This is not the case. As was pointed out by one member of the Scrutiny Committee, new roads bring new traffic. This was acknowledged in the P4E documentation in relation to the Carrington Relief Road (Transport Locality Assessment paragraph 11.2.3). Based on what has happened in other locations, it is highly likely additional traffic will be attracted to use both the new road AND the existing A6144!
It should be recognised that there is no dispute about opening up the A1 road (end to end), and that could be explored immediately. HGV and through traffic should be prevented from using the A6144 through Carrington Village but Trafford has NOT committed to this, which means residents will suffer the harmful effects of traffic on both roads. This approach will not achieve the desired aim of improving the reliability of public transport timetables either.
Like most other major roads in Trafford, and beyond, the A6144 is only busy during rush hour. So, instead of introducing sustainable passenger and freight transport solutions, that would benefit the whole community, Trafford are progressing a £30m scheme which will only replace a very short section of the A6144, benefiting some drivers for a very short time (see this video for an explanation of this example of Jevons Paradox in action).
This new section of road is close to the Carrington Spur, so we are at a loss to understand the benefits to Partington residents that Trafford has suggested will be transformational! The road will cause significant air, noise and light pollution to the residents of Sale West, affecting the children at All Saints Catholic Primary School, the users of Carrington Moss and, of course, the red listed birds and endangered wildlife that breed and feed here.
What Trafford’s Masterplan says about Transport in New Carrington
“Carrington and Partington suffer from relative isolation from the wider urban area of Greater Manchester. New Carrington provides the opportunity to make strategic highway interventions, for both the car and bus; significant upgrades to public transport; and enhancements for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders resulting in a much more sustainable community for established and new residents”.
It might provide “the opportunity” but there are NO planned upgrades to public transport.
The only commitment is to the Carrington Relief Road, despite the promises made in previous Local Plans. No trams, no trains (despite the former railway line running right into Carrington and Partington) and no water-based transport (despite the proximity of the Manchester Ship Canal).
Trafford insist the road is “not the only show in town” but for passenger and freight transport, it certainly is!
In fact, in relation to public transport, what Trafford’s document says is that“improving bus accessibility to New Carrington, Altrincham, and Sale should be encouraged” and the response to our FOI request said:
“There are currently no committed schemes to improve public transport in this area.”
Residents have been waiting for public transport enhancements for 15 years! Isn’t it time our Council did more than “encourage” provision and makes those improvements a priority, and a reality, along with sustainable freight options?
What are our asks?
We set out our key asks in our previous blog. Without the information we request, we do not believe the Scrutiny Committee can undertake an adequate review of the current proposal.
For more information about our previous analysis relating to the Carrington Relief Road, please check out the Carrington Link Road page on our website.