Eamonn Boylan, chief executive of Stockport Council and planning lead for the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, has responded to calls for a green belt review as part of preparation for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.
In an early-stage consultation which sought the views of local stakeholders and organisations on the vision and scope of the proposed plan, respondents questioned why there was no mention of a review of the green belt to unlock additional development sites. The comments were released ahead of an AGMA meeting on 14 January.
The framework is scheduled to be in place by 2017 and will be a 20-year statutory development document that will exist alongside local plans.
In a comment to Place North West, Boylan said:
"Greater Manchester and the 10 districts' position is that, looking forward to the 2030s, we need to ensure that we have enough land for housing in the right places to meet the needs of our growing population and our growing economy. That includes making sure that we deliver housing on sites within the urban area, including the many sites with planning permissions, and other sites which are potentially attractive as locations for people to live but which are currently constrained.
"However, as it stands some of our most environmentally attractive sites are in the urban area and are not in the green belt, and they will be susceptible to development pressures. It is therefore important that as a starting point we assess the quality of our overall land resource, not only to ensure that we have enough land for development but also, and equally importantly, that we are able to protect our most environmentally valuable land from development pressures.
"Our starting point is therefore not that we are committing to a green belt review. Our starting point is that we need to be clear about our development requirements to the mid-2030s, and we have been consulting on that and will consider the responses we have received. Once we are clear on that then we will assess our overall land resource, including critically the resource in Greater Manchester's urban area as a whole.
"We will only decide to move to a formal green belt review if we need land to be brought forward to meet requirements for housing and employment to the mid-2030s which cannot be provided within the urban area, without damaging critical environmental assets within the urban area."