Echoing the eventual success following the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass of 24 April 1932?

We are sure everyone involved in Extinction Rebellion recognises that they are not the first to use the strength and energy of the public to achieve their goals against the powerful political and landowning elite.  We recently interviewed the Footpath Secretary of the Ramblers Trafford Group and she reminded us of the local hero involved in the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass.

FOCM: We didn’t realise there was such a local connection with the Trespass, tell us more!

June: Well Benny Rothman, who was one of the leaders, actually lived in Timperley, I think his house now has a blue plaque.  It was the efforts of those involved in the Mass Trespass that inspired the formation of the Ramblers Association.  Then as now, the countryside represented an escape from daily life, particularly for those who do not have access to green spaces.  Over the last sixty years the Ramblers have played a pivotal role helping secure the footpath network in England and Wales.  We protect the places people go walking and believe in protecting people’s ability to enjoy the intrinsic values of nature.

FOCM: We are lucky in Trafford to have Carrington Moss as a local place for walking, cycling and horseriding.  We don’t have to get in a car to find it, it is on our doorsteps.  Why is it important to you?

June: Trafford Ramblers organise led walks every week.  We have over 200 members of all ages and abilities and Carrington Moss has a number of very safe, and free, walking routes the public can use.  The big problem is that most of the land is privately owned, and, if the routes are not formally recorded public rights of way, the landowners could restrict access in the future.  Many people have been using these footpaths, not just for regular exercise but also as a way to soothe their emotional challenges, so they are an important asset, often better than a prescription!

FOCM: The existing routes are not all public rights of way are they?

June:  No, and the problem is that, if a landowner just allows the public to walk on a path, they can withdraw permission at a moment’s notice and the path can no longer be used by the public.  So we need as many of the footpaths to be formally recorded as public rights of way, as possible, rather than to keep the status quo with the permissive paths we have today.

FOCM: So what can we do – can our members help?

June: We are really keen to get the paths onto Trafford Council’s Definitive Map, this would mean the footpaths are protected in law and future generations would still be able to use them.  We’d like users of the existing footpaths to help us with our claims for public rights of way.  So if your members have been using the routes across Carrington Moss and have not yet completed a user evidence form, please ask them to email right.of.way.campaign@gmail.com.  We can make our claims on the grounds that the public has established a right of way by using these routes, on an uninterrupted basis, for over 20 years.  That does not mean that the people who have used these routes, or parts of them, must show they used them every day, nor that the same person has used the routes over the whole 20 years.  Regular use by a range of individuals to these overall routes, over the 20 year period, is sufficient.  So, partial use of the way, or occasional use only over a limited period of time will be helpful in supporting our claim. 

FOCM: Brilliant, we will remind them again about that.  I think I have seen your group maintaining the routes across Carrington Moss too?

June: Yes, Trafford Ramblers has an active Footpath Team who monitor and help maintain local footpaths and Rights of Way.  Some walk local footpaths and check that the paths meets the standards laid down by Trafford Council.  We also have small teams maintaining paths by cutting back obstructing vegetation, repairing natural surfaces and placing waymarks (yellow circles with black arrows) where needed.  We work out of doors, all year round and we are always looking for more volunteers for this, so if any of your members are interested, we would love to hear from them. 

FOCM: I think I saw the team on the Transpennine Trail, it is a key route across Carrington Moss.

June: Yes, it is an important part of our landscape.  I believe HIMOR, who own the land at the Carrington Moss part of the TPT, have said that they will renew the lease for the TPT, which is great news.  They have also said they will not object to our recent claim for a public right of way on Birch Road, which is another key route across Carrington Moss.

FOCM: Yes, in fact, HIMOR would be keen to have a workshop with us about the public rights of way across Carrington Moss, can you join us?

June: Try and keep me away, am looking forward to it!

If you want to know more about Trafford Ramblers, please check out their website at this link http://www.ramblers-trafford.co.uk/

Petition against roads across/through Carrington Moss

Fed up of sitting in traffic in the rush hour?  You are not alone! 

So what is the answer?  More roads? 

We do not think so!

Let’s get to the root cause of the problem!
In this area, most people NEED to have a car because our public transport is so poor and local roads are so dangerous, and highly polluted, for those who would like to cycle or walk. 

Good Public Transport Accessibility is a myth for Partington, Carrington and Sale West.  The Good Public Transport Accessibility GMAL 2018 map shows the gap clearly.


Isolation is the result for those who do not have access to a car, or the confidence to use other options.

So, what is being done about this?

Well, in the Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040, for this area, there is only ONE COMMITMENT and that is for a new road!  A new road, for which there has been NO consultation.  A new road that will have cope with the existing traffic, an estimated 20,000 plus new cars AND between an estimated 400 and 600 lorries a day – yes, PER DAY, 24 x 7!!!  There will also be a huge inflow of traffic from outside the borough, because people will use the route as a shorter, or quicker, way to get from various places in Cheshire to Manchester, and back again.  So, if this road does go ahead, expect a massive increase in air pollution and the associated chronic illnesses, impacting local residents and users of Carrington Moss!

As soon as this new road is built (before ANY new houses come along), we will see lots of, what the Campaign for Better Transport (https://bettertransport.org.uk/roads-nowhere/induced-traffic) calls, induced traffic!

When a new road is built, new traffic will divert onto it. This well-known and long-established effect is known as ‘induced traffic’.  Induced traffic means that the predicted congestion benefits of a new road are often quickly eroded.  Traffic levels on bypassed roads can also rise faster than expected due to induced traffic, all of which means the hoped-for benefits of a new road can evaporate very quickly.  The phenomenon of induced traffic has been observed by transport professionals repeatedly since 1925!  And recent authoritative reviews have confirmed that induced traffic is still beating forecasts on new roads across the country”.

So basically, New Roads Create New Traffic

What about the alternatives? 

Well let’s take a closer look at the Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040 ……………..

The Vision for 2040, as set out in the Delivery Plan 2020-2025, states that Greater Manchester aims to “improve our transport system to support a reduction in car use to no more than 50% of daily trips, with the remaining 50% made by public transport, walking and cycling.  This will mean a million more trips each day using sustainable transport modes in Greater Manchester by 2040.” 

Very laudable, but how will this aim be achievable if, as an example, in the largest allocation in the GMSF (i.e. the New Carrington development), the only commitment in the next 5 years is to a new road?  In fact, the GMSF indicates that there will be several new roads across Carrington Moss! 

Despoiling the peat bog to create these new roads would release hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere and would prevent this habitat from continuing to capture carbon in the future.  The Friends of the Earth describe our peat bogs as “a natural ally against climate change” (sign the Friends of the Earth Protect Peat Moss Petition here).  In addition, the breeding and feeding grounds for a large number of red listed (globally threatened) birds and endangered wildlife species would be decimated.  The agricultural land, which we may need in the future to grow food to feed our population, would no longer be available.  Health problems would be caused or exacerbated for local residents and users of Carrington Moss as a result of the significant increase in air pollution.  Road transport is responsible for 80% of NO2 pollution at the roadside, where it is most damaging to health.   

What about public transport improvements, though!  Surely there are some set out in the Transport Strategy?  Well, during the next five years, business cases will be completed for some limited new bus services in the area (see graphic below).  So, IF the business case is proven, and IF the funding can be found, we MAY get some new bus services!  Not exactly a commitment then, unlike the road!!!  There is NO mention of even one Metrolink stop for the “only opportunity in Greater Manchester to deliver a new settlement of significant size” (i.e. the New Carrington development)!  There are NO park and rides planned to reduce the traffic from outside the borough, which causes so much of the congestion problems in the area.

Excerpt from the GM Transport Strategy 2040 Draft Delivery Plan 2020-2025
(with commentary!)

What about the commitments to improve the traffic free routes – NO, nothing in the GMSF, let’s hope for improvements through the extensive work of our fabulous local walking and cycling groups!   

What can we do?

Is the problem just on Manchester Road/Carrington Lane?  No, in the rush hour, every road, everywhere is busy.  You can be nose to tail for miles and miles.  So does this mean we should build “relief roads” everywhere – of course not!.  Manchester Road/Carrington Lane is not busy at other times of the day, and, given the impact of climate change is now recognised (and, in Trafford, our politicians have been very forwarding thinking on this), surely it would make more sense to prioritise public transport improvements.  Yet Trafford officers are currently seeking the funding for this committed road!  NOW, before ANY consultation has taken place.

We do not believe that increasing the road network in the area will add any value to existing residents, will significantly impact their health and well-being, and will, undoubtedly, lead some people to seek compensation as a consequence of these new roads causing or exacerbating health problems.  The Friends of Carrington Moss Committee have, therefore, created a petition which requests that Trafford does not approve new roads but, instead, agrees to focus on making significant improvements to our public transport network and our walking, cycling and horse-riding routes. 

With your help, we’d like to change the current plans. So download our petition and help us to collect signatures, today!

How big is 240 hectares – our green belt loss on Carrington Moss?

Can you visualise how big the 240 hectares of green belt Trafford plan to release at Carrington is?  I was finding this tricky, not being familiar with hectares at all, to be honest.  So, for those of you coming along to the kite flying on Dainewell Park tomorrow, here is something to think about.

Dainewell Park is around 51.8 square metres in size.  This is just over 5 hectares (there are 10,000 square metres in a hectare). 

How big is Dainewell Park?

So the 240 hectares of green belt Trafford plans to release is the equivalent of over 46 (yes, 46) Dainewell Parks!

And when you add the green belt at Timperley Wedge, the total green belt loss for Trafford is 354 hectares – the equivalent of over 68 Dainewell Parks!!!

As an aside, the planned industrial and warehousing area in the GMSF for New Carrington is between 410,000 square metres and 900,000 square metres.  We believe this is floor space, rather than land mass but, nevertheless, it is interesting to note that, despite all the other industrial/warehousing units in the area (Trafford Park and Manchester Airport, to name but two), there is an expectation that the site can accommodate units (and the associated additional traffic) equivalent to between 7 and 17 Dainewell Parks.

If you don’t manage to join us at the kite flying tomorrow and are not familiar with hectares or Dainewell Park, I have my friend Dave to thank for showing me this feature on google maps.  If you right click you will see one of the options is to Measure Distance.  You can measure any area that you know and then, assuming you use the square metres measurement, divide the results by 10,000 to arrive at the number of hectares for the area you are considering.  This will give you an idea of the land mass being considered for green belt release.

Remember, just revising the GMSF to a 15 year plan would mean NO release of green belt anywhere in Greater Manchester.  Remember, we have a housing waiting list figure of 3,325, and even if this has doubled since the publication of the Trafford Housing Strategy, we do not need to release any green belt to satisfy those figures. 

So, when it comes down to the vote to approve the GMSF in Trafford, which of our politicians will be supporting the release of green belt the size of over 68 Dainewell Parks? 

And, even more importantly, will any of our politicians have taken strong action to protect our green belt before that vote?

Given they are OUR elected representatives, maybe we should ask them!

When is a “target” not a “target”?

There are so many reasons why we should not be looking to reduce the land designated as green belt – anywhere in the country – not just in Greater Manchester, and especially not in Trafford.  We already mentioned in our previous blog that, in Trafford, we have the lowest proportion of land designated as green belt in the whole of Greater Manchester (with the exception of the city areas of Manchester and Salford).   So why are we even considering reducing the land designated as green belt?  Well it is the choice of our politicians folks! 

We have a developer-led national policy and associated methodology defined by the Government and a developer-led regional policy and spatial framework determined by the 10 Councils across Greater Manchester.  Both are driving all the wrong behaviours and are certainly not addressing the housing crisis in any way, shape or form!

Let us consider a few examples of what is happening out there in Greater Manchester!

We have huge numbers of apartments being built in the centre of Manchester that are focused on the non-UK market (ie on buyers from other countries).  How does that help our housing crisis???

The world of business is changing.  Many people now work from home.  For many organisations, premises are a luxury not an essential.  Yet offices are still being built in our towns and city centres, and they lie empty.  How does that help our housing crisis???

Land which already has approval for development is “banked”.  Why is this even allowed and how does it help our housing crisis???

We will pick up on the use of brownfield land in a future blog, but for now let’s just mention that the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) highlight in their annual State of Brownfield report (https://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/housing-and-planning/planning/item/5086-state-of-brownfield-2019) that “there is enough suitable brownfield land available in England for more than 1 million homes across over 18,000 sites and over 26,000 hectares”.

Then, of course, we have this little thing called Brexit going on (and on and on and on).  Much of our green belt land is agricultural, certainly in Carrington it is grade 2 which makes it ideal for growing crops.  We should not even be considering building on land that we may need for food production in the future.

So something needs to change otherwise our green belt will continue to be decimated and our housing crisis will not improve. 

What we really need is a target that is focused on the actual housing crisis, underpinned by a strategy and associated policies that drive achievement of that target. 

“Isn’t the housing need target already focused on the housing crisis then”?  I hear you ask!  Errrrrr NO!

It is currently based on the household projections (which are calculated by the Office for National Statistics).  We will talk about the difference between the 2014 ONS projections and the 2016 ONS projections in a future blog, suffice to say for now that the difference between the two adds yet another uncertainty into the housing need figures.  Those ONS household projections are uplifted for an “affordability ratio”, which, in Trafford is very high (8.94% against a regional average of 6.13%).   This “affordability ratio” aims to flood an area with new homes to bring down the prices in that area (due to oversupply) and, therefore, make it more affordable to live in that location.   This might work elsewhere but we all know that in Trafford, many people from outside the borough will be looking to move here because of our selective schools system. 

So, in essence, what this means is that the Government’s standard methodology calculates a housing need target for Trafford of 25,000 homes.

Yes, 25,000 homes!  

How does that compare to actual housing need (ie people without a home) in Trafford?  Well the Trafford Local Plan was issued for consultation last Summer (2018).  It stated, in relation to Unmet Affordable Housing Need, that Trafford had a “shortfall of 1,096 dwellings”.   In the same set of documents, the number of empty homes in Trafford was over 2,300, with over 700 properties being classified as long term empty.  Trafford’s Housing Strategy 2018-2023, states that Trafford’s Housing Register has a waiting list of 3,325 people. 

Even assuming the waiting list has gone up a little, and that there are no empty homes that can be brought back into use, there is a phenomenal difference between that waiting list figure and the 25,000 homes we are targeted to build!.

In Greater Manchester as a whole, the GMSF states that there are 85,000 households on the waiting list for a home.  Yet there are NO policies in the GMSF that prioritise those homes for build in the first three to five years.  Why not?  After all, this waiting list figure IS the housing crisis. 

We are not suggesting that no other homes are built at all.  What we are saying is that the Government’s housing target should be focused on real housing need – not on the homes the developers want to build!  

Assuming you are still awake and want to continue reading, let’s just go back to that figure of 25,000 homes calculated by the Government’s methodology for Trafford.  In the current iteration of the GMSF, the Trafford allocation “target” is 19,000 homes because neighbouring authorities have agreed to build 6,000 of our homes.  If we remove the planned builds on green belt (Carrington Moss and Timperley Wedge), Trafford still has plans to build between 6,600 and 10,500 homes (not on green belt) in unspecified developments.  These other, non-specified builds will more than satisfy Trafford’s actual housing NEED and those builds should be focused on reducing the waiting list for homes in Trafford!

Trafford’s allocation in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF)

Finally, there is significant confusion about the status of the housing need target, which officials regionally (Greater Manchester Combined Authority) and locally (Trafford) seem to believe is an absolute requirement, yet Ministers nationally have now confirmed is not actually a target at all.  We have received letters (via correspondence through Sir Graham Brady, MP) from Jake Berry MP, Kit Malthouse MP and officers from the Ministry of Housing’s Planning Policy and Reform Division, which confirm this.

Additionally, the letters specifically state that the green belt boundary should only be altered in exceptional circumstances.  We cannot have “exceptional” circumstances in Trafford (or Greater Manchester) when, just by revising the GMSF to a 15 year plan would mean that NO builds on green belt would be required anywhere in Greater Manchester!

Excerpt from Kit Malthouse MP letter dated 4th April 2019

We’ll talk about the 15 year plan in a future blog, but given all the uncertainties, the lack of an appropriate national strategy and associated policies, and the general confusion about whether the housing need target is a target, we proposed a 15 year plan in our response to the GMSF.  We also suggested that the strategy should be focused on real housing need and await the outcome of the consultation with interest. 

Here in Trafford, we hope to persuade our politicians that our builds should be focused on reducing the waiting list for homes, not on reducing the land designated as green belt! 

Looking under the covers of the GMSF (Part 1)

There is still a lot of misinformation being circulated about the plans for Carrington Moss and the justifications for those plans.   Some people are mentioning that the net loss of green belt since the 2016 iteration of the GMSF has been reduced by over 50%. This is indeed great news.  But not for Trafford!!!   In Trafford the reduction of net loss of green belt is only 22% and in New Carrington it is only 20%.   What? 

To achieve an average reduction in net loss of green belt of 50% across Greater Manchester means that other Authorities in the region reduced their net loss of green belt by much more than 50%.  Is this fair?  Well, maybe it would be if Trafford had a higher than average proportion of green belt to start with.  But we don’t!  Trafford currently has the lowest proportion of green belt in the whole of Greater Manchester (other than the city areas of Manchester and Salford).  The Regional average of land designated as green belt is almost 47%, whereas Trafford’s designated green belt is only 37%.  So much for equity across the Region!

The GMSF states that, once approved, nearly 45% of Greater Manchester’s land will be Green Belt but not in Trafford!  We will have only 34.3% Green Belt.  

Whilst we recognise it would be impossible to arrange an even split across all the districts, there was an opportunity over the last two years, whilst the GMSF was under a detailed review, to at least redress the balance – instead Trafford languishes significantly below its peers at the bottom of the table.  For the citizens of Greater Manchester, many of whom live in an increasingly polluted urban environment, the countryside on their doorstep is essential.  It is the place where they go to ‘chill out’, to escape the stresses and strains of modern life, whether walking, cycling or horse-riding, whether nature-spotting, bird-watching or just giving their mind a break.  For the residents of Trafford, reducing the green belt by over 350 hectares (which includes the Timperley Wedge reduction) significantly impacts the space available for these health and well-being activities and, of course, also decimates the breeding and feeding grounds of red listed (globally threatened) birds and endangered wildlife species.

Welcome to Friends of Carrington Moss

Carrington Moss is the land separating Carrington and Partington from Sale West. It has many much loved walking, cycling and horse-riding routes and is also used by the local community for health and well-being activities, including nature-spotting and bird-watching.

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