GMSF: Oldham to put brownfield first | Oldham Council
Get a coronavirus vaccination

Book online or visit one of our local vaccine clinics without an appointment.

Get a vaccination
Published: Monday, 28th September 2020

Oldham to include more brownfield sites instead of green belt in spatial plan

Over 1,400 fewer homes will be built in the green belt after Oldham Council prioritises new brownfield sites within the emerging final draft of the Greater Manchester’s Plan for Homes, Jobs and the Environment.

After listening to our local communities, we’ve taken out as much green belt development as possible from the 17-year plan, as part of our commitment to prioritising brownfield land for future housing and employment space.

Oldham must build 11,764 homes by 2037. Thanks to extensive work from Oldham Council, a majority of these homes will be built on previously developed land to ensure as little green belt development as possible.

Green belt allocations in the 2020 plan will enable the development of 2,597 homes and 141,720sqm of employment land. This is a vast reduction from last year’s draft plan, which included proposals for 4,007 new homes and 342,386 sqm of employment land.

After reviewing the evidence, the key changes in the latest version of the plan - known as the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) - will include:

  • Removing the proposed housing site at Thornham Old Road
  • Removing the proposed housing site at Spinners Way
  • Removing the majority of the proposed housing sites in Woodhouses, retaining only one site for 30 homes at Bottom Field Farm (on the existing brownfield footprint of the farm)
  • Removing some housing sites from the Ashton Road Corridor but retaining and extending the site south of Coal Pit Lane to minimise the impact on the local community
  • Changes to the housing and employment land at Kingsway South - this is now proposed as a broad location for future development (outside the current planned period) and it will remain in the green belt.  This newly defined broad location site will be renamed High Crompton Broad Location.

Calls for brownfield sites to come forward as part of earlier consultation phases did not generate enough to meet government targets, therefore the council has submitted alternative brownfield sites including around 2,500 homes in the town centre.

Cllr Sean Fielding, Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “The council has never wanted to give up Oldham’s green belt, we know it’s what makes our town special.

“We have listened to residents and are pleased to have more than halved the amount of green belt development from when the spatial framework was first developed in 2016.

“We’ve been working hard to identify alternative viable brownfield sites which will enable us to fulfil our housing need whilst helping us to protect the green belt and be a catalyst for regeneration - including exciting town centre improvements.”

These changes have been made possible thanks to significant work from Oldham Council including a review of all mills to assess their viability for development in the future.

The review has been integral in bringing forward additional sites for future homes and employment space – relieving pressure on the green belt and regenerating Oldham for the benefit of all. It includes:

  • An increase of 800 homes on brownfield mill sites due to emerging evidence from the draft Mill Strategy
  • An increase of 36 homes in the borough’s centres due to emerging evidence from the Retail and Leisure Study
  • An increase of 908 homes within Oldham Town centre as a result of the updated Oldham Town Centre Framework; and
  • New planning permissions granted since previous drafts.

But government states that Oldham must build 11,764 homes over the next 17 years – an average of 692 homes a year. So, whilst we have identified as much brownfield land as possible, it is still not enough to meet our housing need.

Cllr Hannah Roberts, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Oldham needs more and better housing – which meets the needs of residents at various stages of their lives including affordable housing and homes for social rent.

“We understand the significant concerns the local community has expressed in the previous consultations and we have removed as much green belt as possible. We would have liked to remove it all, however we have to a statutory duty to meet house-building targets set by government - which is why some allocations remain.

“But we will not allow developers to ride roughshod over the green belt. We’ve brought in additional policies so that any development of the allocation sites is done as sensitively as possible including protecting important habitats, enhancing green belt in the surrounding area or providing new and/or improved open space, sport and recreation facilities.”

The plan sets out where housing and employment space could be built in the future. Without it, we will have less control over the future shape of our area, and growth will take place without being properly planned for the benefit of all. We also run the risk of places that we want to remain untouched, being developed.

Oldham’s brownfield first policy underpins our approach to development in Oldham. It means we actively encourage brownfield development - supporting regeneration and protecting open space.

Cllr Fielding added: “We want green belt allocations to be the last to be built on, but we know brownfield sites can be less appealing to developers than other sites which are effectively a ‘blank canvas.’

“Our hands are tied when granting planning permission – we have to follow national laws and policies – so we’ll be calling on government to back our brownfield first approach and support our aim to put local people at the heart of planning policy.

“We have an ambitious vision for Oldham – we want quality homes, jobs and training opportunities. We’ve developed a plan which does the best job for Oldham and creates a better place that allows us all to live happier, healthier lives.”

Greater Manchester’s Plan for Homes, Jobs and the Environment is to be considered by AGMA on 13 October – meeting papers are set to be published on 5 October. Oldham Council will meet to discuss the plan on 28 October. The final public consultation on the plan is scheduled to take place 4 November to 31 December.

For more information visit

The table below outlines Oldham’s strategic allocation sites 2019 vs 2020 submitted as part of Greater Manchester’s Plan for Homes, Jobs and the Environment:


2019 Draft Plan

2020 Plan


Spinners Way / Alderney Farm

50 homes

0 - removed from plan

South of Rosary Road

60 homes

60 homes

Thornham Old Road

600 homes

0 - removed from plan


260 homes

30 homes (now at one site and only on brownfield land)

Kingsway South

518 homes (and 180,000sqm employment land)

0 – (now a broad location)

Stakehill (Cross-boundary allocation with Rochdale)

Around 149,000sqm employment land (Oldham portion only)

Around 120,000sqm employment land (Oldham portion only)

Ashton Road

264 homes

255 homes (now at one site – land south of Coal Pit Lane)

Beal Valley

482 homes

482 homes

Broadbent Moss

878 homes/  21,720sqm employment (extension to Higginshaw Business Employment Area) Overall site capacity 1,451.

874 homes/

21,720sqm employment (extension to Higginshaw Business Employment Area) during plan period. Overall site capacity remains 1,451 (includes 77 homes at Hebron Street recently granted planning permission)


465 homes

465 homes

Hanging Chadder

260 homes

260 homes

Robert Fletchers (Chew Brook Vale)

171 homes and around 8,500sqm mixed-use (employment and leisure)

171 homes and around 6,000sqm mixed-use (commercial, leisure and retail)


4,008 homes and 342,386 sqm employment land

2,597 homes and 141,720 sqm employment land

News archive Oldham Council news RSS feed