GMSF final draft could be out for consultation in days

Rochdale View

The long-awaited final draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework could be published in the next couple of weeks, if leaders give it the green light.

The news was revealed at a meeting of the Greater Manchester Housing, Planning and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 15 November. A paper distributed to members before the meeting, but not published on the Combined Authority website, sets out a date of December 2018 or January 2019 for the consultation on the final draft to start.

That would allow the final version of the GMSF to be published for comment in the summer of 2019, before being submitted late 2019 or early 2020. The public examination could take place in the Spring and Summer of 2020, followed by adoption in Winter 2020/21. However, the GMSF has been subject to delays at every stage so far: further bumps in the road would not be a surprise.


For a December consultation to happen, leaders will need to make a decision at the GMCA meeting in Bury on Friday 30 November. There’s no GMSF item on the agenda for the meeting, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. As with the Housing Scrutiny meeting, the decision may well be taken under urgent business with a paper circulated to the leaders just ahead of the meeting rather than being published on the website.

Consultation period

A December launch would see the GMSF consultation run through to mid-March. If the consultation starts in January, it would finish in April. Neither is ideal for the leaders. Getting the papers out for December could be a rush, and launching your consultation in the Christmas season is rarely a good look. But that might be preferable to the alternative, which would see it overlap with the 2019 local election campaign. Having both at the same time could be a gift to Save Our Green Belt campaigners who would doubtless seek to turn the local elections into a referendum on the plans.


For the GMSF to be approved, all ten council leaders plus the Mayor of Greater Manchester have to vote in favour. That could happen even if a majority of councillors in a council opposed the deal. However, two of the ten councils (Stockport and Trafford) are in no overall control, while Bolton is on a knife-edge. In Stockport at least, leader Alex Ganotis has made clear that he will only vote for a deal that has the support of a majority of Stockport members.

Add to that the local elections in May 2019 and 2020, plus the Mayoral election in 2020, and there’s plenty of scope for further changes of leadership. Just one of the ten council leaders who signed the first Manchester Devolution deal in 2014 is still in post. Who knows how much more turmoil the next few years will bring.

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A deal that gives Stockport special treatment – no development in High Lane and Woodford – would be hard to swallow for leaders in other boroughs trying to sell it locally.
Even if it did, I still can’t see it getting through a majority of members in Stockport. Too much political advantage to be gained by Liberal Democrats and strong NIMBY voice. Basically, all of this work, all of this vision, all of this serious attempt to address land needs of a future economy will be scuppered in SK6. I feel so proud*. This is the same localism in action that calls for speed bumps to be removed.

*irony klaxon

By Michael Taylor

But very good analysis, Iain. Thanks for sharing.

By Michael Taylor

It won’t be a final draft as there will still need to be at least one further round of consultation on whatever version is subsequently submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. There also isn’t a set length of time for periods of consultation at this stage of preparing a plan so not sure what basis there is for saying consultation will continue until March or April.
Finally – Iain – you really ought to declare your political credentials in any article like this – it would lead people to potentially read it in a different light.

By the time you read this...

I like the way that in the spirit of open and transparent democracy, GMCA chooses to try and hide important announcements from the millions of people it notionally represents, by not publishing the document ahead of the meeting and rushing to get the consultation over with before it can become an issue at the local elections !!!

By Badger

With the demise of the High Street in favour of On-Line purchase of goods, this is a perfect scenario to utilise the High Street into Affordable Housing to use the available properties to develop housing that already exists, rather than building on GREENBELT that is what I want to leave ensure is left to both our Children and Grand Children to enjoy what was left to us.

By Jack Strongheart

As someone who as recently as 2015 claimed to have the best interests of the people of High Lane at heart Michael I think it’s more disappointing that you mindlessly want to build thousands of houses on green fields in High Lane. No thought of extra places at local schools or more congestion, air pollution. You really are the worst of the worst of Labour. All spin no substance.

By Alan

The GMSF will be made available in line with normal legal requirements prior to a GMCA meeting, probably now in January. And no local authority can carry out consultation in run-up to election, so consultation will be time limited to avoid pre-election period late March.

By Informed planner

Get the document out there and let’s move on. Building over high streets with houses? Really? So we leave our grandchildren with what? Just houses and no central pot for the community to come together? The real answer here is to push the greenbelt outwards and ensure large greenspaces are allocated within the new houses, not just small play areas. The greenbelt is currently nothing more than a tool in the NIMBY toolkit.

By GravyTrain

Alan – point out the bit where I said I wanted to build on the green fields of High Lane.

By Michael Taylor