Where should we build in Greater Manchester?

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has released the initial results from its call for sites on the Spatial Framework, asking people and businesses to put forward sites of the region they would like to see developed.

The Authority has received suggestions for more than 600 sites. The consultation was primarily aimed at landowners and developers, but was open to anyone to make suggestions. The sites put forward so far are yet to be analysed and commented on by the Authority, and a full response isn’t expected until autumn of this year. In the meantime, however, more suggestions are still being welcomed via the map itself.

Given many developers are likely to have had their say during the consultation, it looks like the received wisdom is that the area covered by Manchester City Council is practically full, especially in the corridor to the south of the city centre. There are also few sites proposed around Bolton and its town centre, although this could be for different reasons, perhaps highlighting the lack of will from investors in certain areas.  The aim of the plan is to identify land supply over the coming 20 years, but, in addition to finding out where investors want to develop, the consultation has highlighted which areas need more effort in order to attract investment.

Cllr Sue Derbyshire, who is the lead on housing and planning for Greater Manchester, has said that she wants to create ‘attractive places that people want to live and work in.’ Anyone who attended last week’s Place RESI event will have heard Cllr Derbyshire emphasise how important it is that the value of new development is shared with local communities. Where local support exists, she pointed out, development becomes much easier.

For investors and developers, the Spatial Framework provides a platform to engage with residents early in the development process, explain the rationale for choosing a certain site, and the potential benefits to the area. If there is radio silence until applications are submitted, it becomes much harder to share the opportunities new plans bring: the focus ends up being on negative, not positive, impacts.

For local councillors and politicians, the map sets in black and white the areas that are not attracting the investment needed, and could be used to open dialogue with developers as to why they don’t view certain areas as viable investments – and what community aspirations development can help fulfil.

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