Manchester Devolution: Mark II

This week, a six-week consultation on the proposed devolution deal for the Sheffield City Region has started. Greater Manchester, however, determined to stay ahead of the pack, is already looking at the next step on its devolution path. The Spending Review included an announcement from George Osborne that the Greater Manchester Combined Authority will have the backing from the Government to develop a number of innovative policies.

The policies are wide-ranging, covering housing, planning and transport among others. In planning, the Government will be hoping that Manchester will lead the way in being proactive in bringing forward sites suitable for development, and has invited the region to develop a business case for a Land Programme, which will be overseen by the Greater Manchester Land Commission. The Programme would, in theory, encourage private-sector investment in strategic sites more quickly – increasing the speed with which new homes are built and jobs created.

Subject to the necessary legislation, there will also be the opportunity for the Greater Manchester Mayor to implement a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which itself will be subject to the unanimous approval of the Mayor’s Cabinet (comprising the leaders of all councils which make up the Greater Manchester Combined Authority). It is not known how this will work with the CILs for individual authorities, but it is likely to be a significant factor in helping with larger infrastructure projects, such as the proposed tunnel between Manchester and Sheffield.

With the Northern Powerhouse remaining high on the Government’s agenda, Greater Manchester is again doing its utmost to stay ahead of the game and keep the momentum moving. With some more specific policies announced, it will be interesting to see if they have a positive impact on the region. The Chancellor will be hoping this happens sooner rather than later, as the success of Greater Manchester may well determine how quickly other areas in the North move forward with their own plans.

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