Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council - Unitary Development Plan 2006

Chapter 7



The boundary of the urban area is defined on the Proposals Map.  Outside this area, only development that is compatible with the policies in this chapter will be acceptable.

The Defined Urban Area incorporates one minor boundary change from the current development plan, at Haugh Fold, Newhey.  (See Proposal D/3 below)

7.1In line with the Plan's Objectives and Spatial Strategy, the Council wishes to ensure that new development, wherever possible and appropriate, is concentrated within the urban area in order to support urban regeneration and to protect the countryside. Policies relating to housing, shopping, employment uses which are specifically intended to control development within the urban context require the urban areas to be defined in order for such policies to be interpreted and applied.

7.2This approach is reflected in Green Belt, countryside and recreation policies which limit the scale and nature of uses to be permitted outside the Defined Urban Area. Policy D/10 'Protected Open Land' sets out the Council's policy for land between the Green Belt and the Defined Urban Area, or between the Green Belt and the Borough boundary as shown on the Proposals Map.


The Green Belt boundary is defined on the Proposals Map.  The Green Belt will be protected from inappropriate development in order to satisfy the purposes and objectives for Green Belt set out in PPG 2, and in particular to maintain the framework of open land separating and surrounding the urban areas of the Borough.

The Green Belt boundary incorporates one minor change from the previous development plan at Haugh Fold, Newhey.  (See Proposal D/3 below)

7.3 Few changes to the Green Belt boundary have been made since it was established in the Greater Manchester Green Belt Local Plan in 1986. The previous Rochdale Unitary Development Plan adopted in March 1999 made one significant boundary change:- the exclusion of land at Hareshill Road, Heywood and this UDP incorporates a minor change to exclude land and buildings at Haugh Fold, Newhey (and its inclusion within the Defined Urban Area.

7.4The fundamental aim of Green Belt is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open and its most important attribute is its openness.  The primary objective of Green Belt policies is to strictly control development and to apply a general presumption against built development except that which falls within special categories so as not to prejudice the Green Belt's purposes and objectives.

7.5In PPG 2, the Government recommends that Green Belts should be considered long term and only altered in exceptional circumstances.  Maintaining the extent of the Green Belt up to 2011 is supported by both Regional Planning Guidance for the North West issued in 1996 and by Draft RPG which was published in 2000, neither of which sees a need to undertake a strategic review before then.

7.6The Council wishes to maintain an effective Green Belt which satisfies the purposes of including land in Green Belts set out in PPG 2; especially in terms of the strong role of the Green Belt in Rochdale in preventing neighbouring towns from merging into one another, and assisting urban regeneration by encouraging the optimum use of urban land.  The Green Belt is therefore carried forward from the adopted UDP virtually in its entirety, and the general presumption against inappropriate development will ensure that these areas are kept open.

7.7The Council's detailed policies for the Green Belt recognise the need to support the diversification of the rural economy, to promote uses which satisfy the objectives for the use of land in Green Belt, and to enhance visual amenity and landscape character.  In particular, the Council wishes to promote appropriate uses and activities in the Green Belt which play a positive role in helping to provide opportunities for recreation and nature conservation, landscape enhancement, the improvement of damaged and derelict land and the retention of land in farming and related uses.

D/3 boundary change to the GREEN BELT and defined urban area

Land and buildings at Haugh Fold, Newhey are excluded from the Green Belt and included within the Defined Urban Area.

boundary change to the GREEN BELT and defined urban area diagram

7.8Exceptional circumstances justify a change in the Haugh Fold Area shown on the supplementary map. This area forms a well defined built enclave comprising 5 dwellings with access from a central square, connected to and visible from the main urban area of Newhey. It is not visible from the wider Green Belt. The area is not 'open' and does not perform a Green Belt role. Consequently, it should be excluded from the Green Belt and included within the Defined Urban Area.


Within the Green Belt approval will not be given, except in very special circumstances, for the erection of new buildings unless it is for the following purposes:

a.agriculture and forestry;

b.essential facilities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation, for cemeteries and other uses which preserve the openness of the Green Belt and which do not conflict with the purposes of including land in it;

c.the limited extension, alteration, or replacement of an existing dwelling in accordance with Policies D/7 and D/8; and

d.Limited infilling or redevelopment of major, existing developed sites identified under, and in accordance with, Policy D/5.

Proposed development falling within these categories will be acceptable only where it can be shown that it would not prejudice, by reason of its scale, siting, or design, the primary purposes and visual amenity of the Green Belt.

7.9In order to maintain the openness of the Green Belt and to satisfy the Green Belt purposes, there is a need for strict controls over new development.  Within the Green Belt, there is a presumption against all but a few, limited forms of development and particularly against most new building.  In addition, its visual amenity should not be injured by proposals for development within or conspicuous from the Green Belt which, although they would not prejudice the purposes of including land within the Green Belt, might be detrimental by reason of their siting, materials and design.

7.10However, the policy recognises that development is acceptable in certain circumstances. Clarification on the suitability of some uses is given below.

Public Services

7.11The operational requirements of statutory undertakers and other bodies providing essential public services are important simply because such services are essential. However development to meet such requirements is not appropriate in the Green Belt, and would therefore not be in accordance with this Plan, unless it would maintain openness and would not conflict with the purposes of including land in the Green Belt. Where inappropriate development is proposed, it will be for the applicant to show why permission should be granted.

Mineral Extraction and Waste Disposal

7.12Mineral extraction and waste disposal operations need not be incompatible with Green Belt objectives, although in particular cases, there may be other good reasons for not granting permission. High environmental standards would need to be maintained and the site well restored.

Agricultural Dwellings

7.13 In any proposal which involves the provision of a dwelling house which it is stated is needed in connection with an agricultural use, the applicant will be expected to show a clear justification for the dwelling. The application must be accompanied by a technical appraisal in accordance with the provisions of Annex E of PPG 7, setting out the details of the agricultural enterprise, including area, tenure, farming system, existing buildings, business plan, number of workers, existing residential accommodation and the necessity for the dwellinghouse on the farm. In cases where the evidence supporting such an application is inconclusive, permission may be granted for a limited period for the provision of a caravan or other temporary accommodation on the site, to allow time for the prospects of the enterprise to be clarified.


Limited infilling within the major existing developed sites within the Green Belt identified below and identified on the Proposals Map, will be permitted provided that the development: related to the continuing use of the site; contained within the boundary shown on the Proposal Map;

c.has no greater impact upon the purposes of including land in the Green Belt than the existing development;

d.does not lead to a major increase in the developed proportion of the site; and

e.does not exceed the height of the existing buildings on site.

The sites for the purposes of this policy (shown on the Proposals Map) are:

i.Hopwood Hall College Campus, Middleton (see also Policy CF/4);

ii.Birch Industrial Estate, Whittle Lane, Heywood;

iii.Hooley Bridge Industrial Estate, Bamford Road, Heywood; and

iv.Crimble Mill, Crimble Lane, Heywood;

v.Tack Lea Works, Heywood

vi.Birtle Bleach Works, Heywood;

vii.Birch Motorway Service Area, Heywood;

viii.Simpson Clough Mill, Heywood;

ix.Buckley Hall Prison, Buckley Lane, Rochdale;

x.Rydings Mill, Rydings Road, Rochdale;

xi.Sladen Mill, Halifax Road, Littleborough; and

xii.Ogden Mill, Ogden Lane, Newhey.

7.14These sites are identified solely for their opportunity for limited infilling as they are in continuing use, are suitable for such use, and are expected to remain so over the Plan period. The sites are substantial in size with building curtilages ranging from 1.3ha to 14.5ha. As most of the sites are in employment use, this will help secure jobs and prosperity without further prejudicing the Green Belt. The site at Hopwood Hall College is subject to proposals involving the improvement and additions to educational facilities at the college campus. (see Policy CF/4 ) Within this site, proposals involving the change of use of listed buildings (e.g. Hopwood Hall and Chapel) for non educational uses will be considered against criteria (b) to (e) above and Policy D/9 'Re-use and Adaptation of Buildings in Rural Areas'. Planning Policy Guidance Note 2 ‘Green Belts’, Annex C provides further guidance on the infilling and redevelopment of major developed sites in the Green Belt and proposals will be required to have regard to that guidance.


Proposals for the redevelopment or re-use of the following sites for housing and associated environmental improvements will be permitted subject to the criteria set out in (a) to (e) below.

A.Healey Hall Mills, Dell Road, Rochdale, (redevelopment / conversion of land and buildings east of Dell Road); and

B.B. Rainshore Mills, Overtown Lane, Norden (redevelopment of land and buildings)

Development will be permitted provided that it:

a.has no greater impact than the existing development on the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it, and where possible has less;

b.does not exceed the height of the existing buildings;

c.does not occupy a larger area of the site than the existing buildings (unless this would achieve a reduction in height which would benefit visual amenity);

d.contributes to the achievement of the objectives for the use of land in the Green Belts, in particular the protection and enhancement of:-

i.the local landscape,

vi.its nature conservation interest,

iii.the retention or enhancement of public rights of way; and

e.incorporates suitable access and off site highway and junction improvements.

The Council may seek to enter into a legal agreement with the developers under Section 106 of the 1990 Act to secure off site infrastructure improvements, and the appropriate treatment of land as part of a development scheme.

7.15 The Council's intention is to encourage investment in those significant developed sites identified in Policy D/5 for their current use and employment value provided the future development of those sites does not have a greater negative impact on the Green Belt. However, the Council acknowledges that the above sites are in poor condition, are no longer suitable or viable for employment purposes, are greatly underused, and, due to the type and nature of their operations over the years, detract from the visual amenity of the Green Belt, the character and qualities of the surrounding countryside and the local environment. Also because of the nature and condition of the buildings, opportunities for their refurbishment and conversion are limited. The Council considers that development proposals that involve a sensitive and constrained redevelopment, the conversion of buildings where practicable, and related environmental improvements, would offer the best opportunity for regenerating these sites and their important settings without adding to their impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land within it. Both sites adjoin ‘Designated Sites of Ecological and Geological/Geomorphological Importance’ – protected under Policy NE/2 – and therefore proposals will need to be assessed against the provisions of that policy. The sites are reasonably accessible to urban facilities and transport routes. The Policy is consistent with the approach set out in Spatial Policy G/SP/1, G/SP/2 and G/SP/3.

7.16This policy reflects the provisions in Annex C of PPG 2 which allows Local Planning Authorities to identify and include policies for the redevelopment of major existing developed sites. The requirements a) to d) of the policy reflect the key requirements a) to d) set out in paragraph C4 of PPG 2 although applications will also be assessed against the detailed guidance notes relating to redevelopment in Annex C.

7.17The relevant area for purposes of (c) above is the aggregate ground floor area of the existing buildings, excluding any temporary buildings and areas of hardstanding. Planning applications must be accompanied by a comprehensive long term plan for the site as a whole together with sufficient information to assess compliance with the above criteria. There is evidence of contamination on both sites and the Council will require a survey to be carried out in support of proposals in accordance with Policy EM/4 of the Plan to assess risks and identify necessary remedial treatment. Applicants are advised to submit a landscape plan and strategy for the restoration of despoiled land in support of d) i of the policy and a Design Statement to explain how the design of the development has regard to the character, constraints and opportunities within and adjoining the site. In accordance with criterion d) ii, proposals should also be accompanied by a survey and assessment of ecological value of the site and the potential impact of development on the surrounding land in line (as both sites adjoin designated areas of ecological importance). Applicants should also carry out a transport assessment to assess traffic impact and the need for suitable access and highway improvements (see criterion e)).

Healey Hall Mills

7.18Healey Hall Mills comprises a substantial but declining industrial complex within the valley of the River Spodden, close to the built up area, and within a Recreational Management Area. The complex is divided by the river into two parcels, 1.1 ha on the eastern bank, and 1.3 ha on the western bank. The site adjoins Healey Dell Nature Reserve and partly falls within a Site of Biological Importance. The main industrial activities (e.g. car repairs, manufacturing, stonemasons and storage activities) are concentrated on the eastern side of the river. However collectively, these uses are not appropriate to the valley setting, the adjoining uses (a day nursery and information centre for Healey Dell Local Nature Reserve), and the buildings are not suited to modern industrial activity and traffic. The opportunity exists to refurbish and convert the former mill building and redevelop other buildings for housing.

7.19The western bank contains a number of buildings, many of which are vacant and in poor condition. The site has largely revegetated over the years and falls within the Site of Biological Importance. New development within this western area would not be appropriate unless it was small-scale development connected with the recreational or ecological role of the wider valley.

7.20Proposals for the redevelopment of the eastern bank (1.1 ha) should be accompanied by proposals for the removal or sensitive treatment of redundant buildings on the western bank. This will help to reduce the extent of the developed area, enhance the openness of the Green Belt and increase the nature conservation value of that part of the site within the Site of Biological Importance. A Design Statement should demonstrate how the development can be successfully integrated into this sensitive setting through attention to siting, mass, materials and access. The site will not be suitable for a modern urban housing estate layout. Flats or apartments comprising a single development of local stone would be considered more in keeping with existing buildings and the character of the area. A landscape plan should provide details of landscape treatment and the protection of trees. Any removal or treatment of land and buildings on the western bank of the river should take account of the impact on naturally revegetated areas and developing ecological value. The developer will be expected to carry out off-site highway improvements, to the unadopted section of Dell Road.

7.21Development proposals must not compromise the ecological value or integrity of the Nature Reserve / SBI (currently a grade A SBI) and should seek to enhance nature conservation interest.

Rainshore Mills

7.22This former textile treatment works is the largest upland industrial site in the Borough. It lies within an attractive area of landscape to the north of Norden and shares a boundary with a Site of Biological Importance and Greenbooth Reservoir. The buildings are generally large scale, old, semi derelict, unattractive, randomly distributed, cannot easily be divided into smaller parcels and are not suited to modern processes. They are mostly vacant or underused with storage as the predominant use. In land use terms the site is no longer suited to continued industrial/business use. The previous activities have resulted in some ground contamination and degradation of the immediate landscape.

7.23The opportunity exists to redevelop the site for housing and to design a scheme which resembles an upland hamlet of traditional local character and materials and which respects the character of the local landscape. The aim should be to reduce the density of buildings and reduce the height of the buildings. New housing development should be contained within the footprint of the existing building complex but should include proposals for the treatment of the wider site. Proposals should aim to improve the visual amenity of the Green Belt, assist in securing landscape improvements and the nature conservation value of the site, remove contamination, provide better access to open countryside through the establishment of footpath and other recreational links. The developer will be expected to carry out off-site highway improvements to facilitate safe access at the junction of Edenfield Road and Overtown Lane. Also, Overtown Lane itself will need to be improved and partially widened to provide safe access for vehicles and pedestrians to the Council's satisfaction.


In determining planning applications for extensions to existing dwellings (including garages and ancillary domestic buildings within the existing curtilage) in the Green Belt, the Council will wish to be satisfied that:

a.The extension is of a scale and character which does not conflict with the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it; and

b.The extension does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building and is not visually detrimental by reason of its siting, materials or design.

7.24The presumption against development in the Green Belt has not been operated generally to prevent small extensions to existing properties that are compatible in scale and design with the original dwelling. The Council is concerned, however, about large extensions, which, in the relatively undeveloped appearance of the Green Belt, can be as visually prominent in the landscape as a new building. This policy is intended to ensure that the extensions may be accommodated without detriment to the scale and character of the original building and the purposes, open character, and visual amenity of the Green Belt. For the avoidance of doubt, “original” means in relation to a building existing on July 1st 1948, as existing on that date and, in relation to a building on or after July 1st 1948, as so built. Additions in this context mean all extensions to the original building as defined, and the Council will consider the cumulative impact of such additions.

7.25Proposals for extensions to dwellings in the Green Belt may also need to be judged against other policies of the Plan. One policy which will be relevant in all cases is Policy H/11 which sets out the Council’s general design requirements for residential extensions.


The replacement of existing dwellings in the Green Belt need not be inappropriate, provided that proposals meet all the following criteria:

a.The existing dwelling is in use as a dwelling, or capable of re-use without planning permission being required, and is of permanent and substantial construction;

b.The proposed dwelling is not materially larger in volume or floorspace than the dwelling it replaces nor occupies a larger area of the site than the existing dwelling;

c.The proposed dwelling is not higher than the dwelling it replaces;

d.The proposed dwelling is served by the same access as the previous dwelling;

e.The curtilage of the proposed dwelling is no larger than that of the previous dwelling and bears the same relationship;

f.The proposed dwelling has no greater impact than the existing dwelling on the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it and, where possible, has less impact; and

g.The siting, design and materials of the proposed dwelling are in keeping with the surroundings.

7.26PPG2 ‘Green Belts’ acknowledges that the replacement of existing dwellings need not be inappropriate in Green Belts provided the new dwelling is not materially larger than the dwelling it replaces. This policy reflects that position and in line with advice in the PPG, sets out the approach the Council will take and the circumstances under which replacement dwellings may be acceptable. The criteria which must be satisfied are intended to ensure that replacement does not detract from the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land within it, and the visual amenity of the area.

7.27For the avoidance of doubt, the relevant area for the purpose of (b) is the aggregate floor area of the existing buildings (i.e. the footprint), excluding temporary buildings and areas of hardstanding


The re-use and adaptation of buildings outside the defined urban area will be permitted provided that all of the following criteria are met:

a.Where the site is within the Green Belt, the re-use or adaptation does not have a materially greater impact than the previous use on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it;

b.The application building is of a permanent and substantial construction and is capable of conversion to a new use without major or complete reconstruction;

c.The building is large enough for the proposed use without the need for extensions of a size and design that would alter the basic character and appearance of the building or its contribution to the landscape;

d.The building can be capable of being provided with satisfactory means of access, services and ancillary facilities, such as hardstandings, gardens, fences, walls etc., without a significant impact on landscape character, the setting of the building or, where it falls within the Green Belt, the openness and visual amenity of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land within it; and

e.The proposed use is compatible with adjacent land-uses and other policies/proposals of the Plan.

7.28The policy reflects both PPG 2 (Revised) and paragraph 17 of PPS 7: Sustainable Development in Rural Areas, and seeks to encourage the re-use of buildings in rural areas, having regard to their suitability for re-use and potential impact. The Government attaches great importance to the need to prevent dereliction and to provide employment opportunities in rural areas through the re-use of such land and buildings. The Council wishes particularly to encourage the retention of buildings of architectural or historic note, or which have an intrinsic value to the locality. These buildings contribute to the character and visual amenity of the countryside and, where they are no longer required for their original purpose, their sympathetic conversion to alternative uses will be preferable to dilapidation and dereliction. The re-use of rural buildings may provide an opportunity for business uses that may help to diversify the rural economy and supplement farm incomes. It is important though (in the interest of maintaining the character, amenity, and integrity of the Green Belt) that some safeguards are imposed to control the character, scale and impact of such changes of use together with any renovations, extensions, ancillary buildings or additional service provision. It will assist applicants if details of proposed alterations and conversion works are submitted as part of the application and these details should include all existing and proposed window and door openings, existing and proposed internal layout and the use of materials.


Within the areas of Protected Open Land defined on the Proposals Map, development proposals will be permitted that fall within one or more of the following categories:

a.development which would be acceptable were it in the Green Belt; or infilling within an established pocket of housing or industry where this is in scale with the area and will not adversely affect its character or surroundings; or

c.a limited extension to an existing building which:

i.forms part of an existing source of employment; or necessary for the establishment of a new enterprise or business which satisfies other policies of the Plan; and sited within the existing curtilage of the business concerned, and will not adversely affect the character of the surrounding land and its openness.

Where new buildings are permitted, they should be sited to form a group with existing buildings. Where this is not possible, buildings, car parking areas and other new structures, should be sited where they will be well screened and unobtrusive in the landscape. All buildings and extensions should be of a high standard of design, using materials that are compatible with the landscape, and should not detract from the visual amenity and environment of adjacent Green Belt.

7.29Not all peripheral open land is designated Green Belt. However, it is a general principle of national policy that development outside the main urban areas should be restricted. This supports the Council's efforts to achieve urban regeneration. Areas of open land between the Green Belt and the urban area also perform a valuable role in:

7.30Clearly, some areas of such open land will also have a particular value for agriculture, wildlife and recreation and these will be the subject of other overlapping general or site specific policies.

7.31Areas of Open Land between the Green belt and the Defined Urban Area and subject to this policy are shown on the Proposals Map. The larger areas include:

7.32The policy recognises that some forms of development are acceptable because they are small-scale, or help to support new or existing businesses, including farm diversification. However, particular regard will be had to the impact of the development on the character and qualities of the open land and the potential for enhancement in line with Policy RE/2 "Countryside Around Towns".