Tom Morrison has written to the Secretary of State regarding the proposed development of Mirrlees Fields.
Residents across the area have contacted Tom regarding the plans that will see around 200 houses built on an area that is designated as Strategic Open Space.
The land acts as an important green corridor for local wildlife and many local people use it for leisure and recreation.
The letter, which is detailed below, asks the Secretary of State responsible for planning laws to ensure that local people are consulted and all of the policies that should protect the land are adhered to and considered.
Tom Morrison said, "Many local people are concerned about the future of Mirrlees Fields. This area has become a haven for those people who experienced the lockdowns without a garden of their own. To see it developed is unthinkable."
People were staggered to hear that the original proposals of 150 homes were considered too small by Planning Officers at Stockport Council, who have argued that the site be developed into 200 houses.
"It shows a distinct lack of awareness of public opinion," said Tom. "The Conservative-backed Labour Council need to start listening more when it comes to local decision making. These plans must be stopped."
Tom's letter to the Secretary of State is as follows:
Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 Marsham Street
8 July 2021
Dear Robert Jenrick,
RE: Mirrlees Fields
You may be aware of the planning application that is soon to be submitted to Stockport Council for the development of 200 houses on land known as Mirrlees Fields.
Whilst this land is owned by MAN Energy, there is significant opposition to the proposals from local residents who use the land for recreation and leisure.
The planning proposals go against several of Stockport Council’s policies and strategies and therefore should be deemed as unsound.
Mirrlees Fields is classified as strategic open space and plays an integral part of Stockport Council’s vision of connected landscapes and greenspaces that supports wildlife migration whilst also supporting efforts to tackle climate change. According to Stockport Council’s policies, land such as this should be protected, with a very high bar set for developers to jump in order for any development proposals to be approved.
As well as this, the Stockport Joint Strategic Needs Assessment identified Stepping Hill ward (where the Fields are located) as having the lowest provision of open space in Stockport Borough, with the ward not meeting Stockport’s recommended standard for open space in any category.
To further emphasis this point, the following policies in Stockport’s Unitary Development Plan (UDP) reiterate the fact any such planning application should be refused:
- NE3.1 Protection and Enhancement of Green Chains – ‘Development which would detract from the wildlife or recreational value of the Green Chains identified on the proposal map will not be permitted.
- UOS1.2 Protection of Strategic Open Space – Mirrlees area, Woodsmoor, Stockport – A Major contribution to the Green Chain network and significant visual contribution to urban fabric.
- 7.14 proposals for the development of change of use of existing uses in areas of Strategic Open Space will be assessed on their merits. Full weight will be given to the general presumption against development considered inappropriate in such areas. Any changes should not involve intensification of activity or have an adverse visual impact.
I understand that this issue currently sits under the responsibility of Stockport Council as the Local Planning Authority, however residents have contacted me expressing a lack of confidence in the current system and are fearful that this application is a ‘done deal’.
This feeling has been made worse since Stockport Council has advised the developer to increase the number of residential units in the application, from 150 to 200. Advice that has flown in the face of public sentiment and made many people feel like the Local Authority is not on their side and instead only care about hitting housing figures, regardless of where they are and how they are reached.
On 7 February 2019, you declared that "a housing need figure is not a target". With this in mind, can I request that in your capacity as Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, you advise the relevant Cabinet Member at Stockport Council that:
- You expect that local people will be fully consulted on the plans for Mirrlees Fields
- You expect that Stockport’s UDP will be adhered to when making any decision that may impact on this strategic open space.
- You would be minded to review any decision made that appears to be go against Stockport Council’s own policies.
Cllr Tom Morrison
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson, Cheadle