The Tame Valley is the one thing that unites all the communities that make up the Denton and Reddish constituency. Following the meanderings of the River Tame, this linear countryside park running from Saddleworth in the north to Stockport in the south is perhaps the only thing Dukinfield has in common with Reddish, apart from sharing the same MP, and it is why I am so passionate about its protection.
It wasn’t always a tranquil, natural asset. Once it was a hive of industry, from cotton mills to wire works, coal mines to working canals; the Tame Valley was only really restored to nature by the old Greater Manchester Council, who had the foresight to recognise its leisure, recreational and environmental benefits.
As a consequence, I’ve grown up loving the Tame Valley. Hulme’s Woods, Hyde Hall Farm and Reddish Vale Country Park were all my childhood stomping grounds and this is why, in my 25 year political career (as a Denton West Councillor and then as Denton and Reddish MP) I’ve always campaigned to protect and enhance our shared Tame Valley, and I always will.
It’s why, alongside the Reddish Councillors, I objected to the Blackberry Lane housing scheme. We lost that battle. It’s why, when it came to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework’s “call for sites” I objected to Jet Amber Fields being put forward for a housing site. I won that one. It’s why, in GMSF versions 1 and 2, I objected to Hyde Hall Farm being identified as a site for housing. The allocation was thankfully removed. And it’s why in all three versions of GMSF I vociferously opposed the Bredbury industrial estate extension.
There’s still a live application for the full site, and I will fight tooth and nail to protect this piece of the Tame Valley, which sits alongside the beautiful Hulme’s Wood and Haughton Dale Local Nature Reserves.
But the demise of GMSF in Stockport should be a cause for major concern because it afforded to Stockport the ability to share the borough’s housing targets with the neighbouring districts of Greater Manchester.
As a result, Stockport only had to find space for around 12,000 of its 18,343 housing target. Now – going it alone – the borough will have to find space for all 18,343. Those numbers don’t change. They are set by Government. That will be a herculean task for the council. Failure to do so will leave sites subject to costly planning appeals too. And as a consequence, much more of Stockport’s greenbelt is now at risk, and that worries me for the future integrity of the Tame Valley as developers may well eye up sites for housing development and fight for them through appeal.
We must remain vigilant. I for one will always fight to protect OUR Tame Valley.