THERE is no doubt that we desperately need more jobs, more housing and more regeneration for people in Ashton-under-Lyne, but it has to be done in sympathy with the existing local environment and taking full account of residents' views.
There's no way these plans should be imposed on local people against their will and I would urge everyone to get involved in the consultation before it closes on Friday.
My general approach is that any housing or business development should take place first, on existing brownfield sites within Tameside. It is those sites which should take priority for development.
Our green belt is precious, it is teeming with wildlife and special fauna and flora. We cannot lose that - it is what makes our area distinctive and attractive. Destroying that would tear the heart out of Ashton.
That's why I cannot support the plans currently envisaged for the Hartshead/Holden Clough/Lily Lanes area of north Ashton.
The site would encroach on valuable green belt land which is well used by local residents. The planners need to think again and look at both the size and scale of the proposed development and its impact on one of the most beautiful areas of Ashton.
If we were to lose this spot, we would lose the jewel in the crown of Ashton's countryside.
I am not at all convinced either, that all the potential brown field sites in my constituency of Ashton, Droylsden and Failsworth have been properly identified and I think a lot more work could be done in bringing these forward. You only have to look around to see urban sites that are derelict or empty that could be developed for homes and business.
Broadly, I support the exciting proposals for Ashton Moss and the opportunity for us here in Tameside to host a future World Expo, which would bring thousands of extra visitors, jobs and investment into Ashton and bring much needed regeneration to neighbouring areas like Droylsden and Failsworth.
It could have the same impact here that the Olympics had on the east end of London and leave future generations with a lasting legacy of growth and prosperity. It could transform future prospects for our young people, which I would very much like to see.
Developing Ashton Moss would bring new homes, businesses and leisure facilities to our area and help bring new life to Droylsden, which needs new investment and regeneration.
I think the Spatial Plan sets out the right framework to help bring growth, jobs and increased prosperity for local people, but that cannot be at the expense of the green belt which people rightfully love. We have to find the right balance between the two.
Local people are not against progress, but it cannot be progress at any price.