MORE than 1,500 people flocked to Albert’s Square at the weekend to rally against the erosion of Greater Manchester’s green belt.

Members of green belt campaign groups from across the region, including Save Timperley Wedge's Greenbelt, marched on Manchester Town Hall on April 1.

The demonstration is in reaction to Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) earmarking swathes of green belt land for development as part of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework plans.

Knutsford Guardian: Borough protests culminate in 1,500-strong rally against green belt development

Steven Longden addressing the crowds at the Save Greater Manchester's Green Belt rally

On a local level, Trafford is aiming to build 23,000 new homes by 2035, and up to a fifth of the borough's green belt areas – including land in Timperley, Flixton and Carrington - could be affected.

Steven Longden, chair of Save Greater Manchester's Greenbelt, which spearheaded the protest, said Saturday’s event was a tremendous show of support for the cause.

Knutsford Guardian:

A young girl joins the Save Greater Manchester's Greenbelt city centre rally on Saturday

“Residents are fed up of GMCA's unreliable and overblown household forecasts and historically low targets for building on brownfield sites,” said Stephen, who hails from Hale.

“They know both seek to aid the astronomical profits private developers make from being allowed to build on green belt. They know, too, that council leaders have their eyes on the large increase in council tax receipts building high value properties on green belt will bring.

Knutsford Guardian:

Borough protests culminate in 1,500-strong rally against green belt development

“We understand that councils have suffered huge budget cuts over the last seven years as a result of the government's austerity agenda and are busy selling off every bit of family silver they can lay their hands on.

“However, greenbelt is even more precious than the family silver - once it's built on, no future fortune will be able to bring it back. Once it's gone, it's gone - and with it our air quality, access to open, recreation spaces.”

Knutsford Guardian:

More than 1,500 residents from dozens of green belt campaign groups across the region turned out for the protest

Campaigners are calling for council leaders, MPs and the mayoral candidates to use their influence to increase the targets for social and affordable housing and economic development on brownfield sites.

The authority promised a “brown field first” strategy but many say not enough is being done to prioritise brown field sites over land with green belt status.