Bennett Burnham
Paul Dennett, left, and Andy Burnham, announced plans to overhaul the GMSF at a press conference in May

Delay on GMSF until after local elections

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

Greater Manchester Combined Authority is targeting summer 2018 as the publication date for a reworked draft of the city region’s spatial framework.

A timeframe for the development and publication of the second draft of the GMSF has been discussed by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Salford City Mayor and the leaders of Greater Manchester’s councils.

The “radical rewrite” of the plan was one of the first commitments by Metro Mayor Andy Burnham when he took office in May.

The GMSF, which is being produced by all 10 councils, is meant to ensure there is the right land available to deliver homes and jobs to 2035, and will identify the new infrastructure such as transport, schools, health centres and utility networks required.

Work on the GMSF has been ongoing since 2014. A first draft was published in October and recommended 227,200 new homes be built in the next 20 years, 28% of the new units on greenbelt land, 12,000 acres of which would be removed from GM’s protected land.

A final draft was due to go out to consultation later this year, and adoption was scheduled for 2018.

According to the GMCA, the second draft “will take into account concerns raised by some members of the public during the first consultation period, and will aim to make the most of Greater Manchester’s brownfield sites and reduce the impact on greenbelt.”

Details of the consultation responses and key sites will be released later this year. However the city region will have to wait until local elections, due next May, have passed before work on the re-draft will be completed.

Paul Dennett, City Mayor of Salford and GMCA lead member for housing, planning and homelessness, said: “The Mayor of Greater Manchester and council leaders have discussed the next steps for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

“To do justice to the 27,000 responses received as part of the initial consultation, and to demonstrate continued trust and transparency in the process, we agreed a timetable with a series of steps leading up to the publication of the revised plan.

“This process will start in September with the publication of the responses to the initial consultation. This will be followed later in the year by the publication of data and associated sources of information such as population estimates which will help us calculate the requirements for housing and employment. Some of this information isn’t yet available, for example we are waiting for the government to publish its national methodology for calculating housing need, which we expect will now be released in the autumn.

“The second draft of the plan will be developed in the New Year, with a view to publish it in June 2018. Following publication of the draft plan, there will be a 12-week consultation with the public.

“We will, of course, continue to listen to and engage with the public as the new draft of the plan is developed, as well as keeping the public updated on progress.”

Stockport’s greenbelt was set to be one of the most affected by the previous version of the GMSF, with some local councillors pushing for the authority to exit the process in order to make its own plan.

Stockport is now working up a Local Plan, which it said will feed into the reworked version of the GMSF.

Cllr Alex Ganotis, leader of Stockport Council, said: “I welcome the revised schedule of the GMSF, as this will give us extra time to go over the great amount of responses and have a transparent conversation with residents across Greater Manchester.

“Our Local Plan will follow closely with the GMSF process, whilst remaining distinct from it, providing a more detailed planning framework at a local level. The GMSF and our Local Plan process we are following will mean we are not left exposed to inappropriate development and will still allow the council to carefully assess proposed land allocations.

“We will continue to develop our Local Plan in the next two years and it will help inform the GMSF work in terms of regeneration of main centres, maximizing the provision of homes within the existing urban area, focusing on sustainable development, promoting the right conditions for business growth and the creation of healthy communities.

“But I maintain my position that Stockport should only sign up to the final GMSF plans if a majority of councillors vote for it. However, the GMSF process remains the best opportunity we have to minimize future development on the greenbelt and open space that we value, so it’s important that we get it right. This revised timetable will help us do just that.”

The leader of Rochdale Council, Cllr Richard Farnell, said the new timetable for the framework would not hinder the council’s own ambitious growth strategy.

Cllr Farnell said: “We will ensure that the importance of the Northern Gateway remains a major element of the framework but at the same time we are continuing to work on our own ambitious growth plans.  There is still plenty of work being done that is helping to bolster Rochdale’s growing reputation as one of Greater Manchester’s biggest opportunities. We must continue to ensure that message is heard and capitalised on.”

Steve Rumbelow, chief executive of Rochdale Council, said: “We already have an ambitious core strategy that will help us realise the growth that our borough can achieve without adversely affecting its reputation as one of the greenest and most attractive parts of the Greater Manchester region. We will continue to drive our plans forward and bring more jobs and investment to the borough of Rochdale.”

The council wants to press ahead with the major extensions including South Heywood Business Park.

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