Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett accused Stockport’s Liberal Democrat councillors of “shameful politicking” after the council delayed its approval of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.
The mayor was speaking at a Salford City Council meeting yesterday, during which he withdrew a planned discussion of the framework from the agenda until further discussion among Stockport councillors had taken place.
The GMSF is intended to map areas of the city region for future development, supporting post-Covid economic recovery in the period to 2037.
The Stockport councillors’ objections, aired during an extraordinary meeting of Stockport Council on Tuesday night, are related to the potential release of some allocated Green Belt sites across the borough for development, contained in the latest draft of the framework that was due to go out for consultation next month.
Salford’s Dennett, who has led on the creation of the GMSF and sought to find consensus across the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs, said the Lib Dem councillors had been opposed to the GMSF from the outset and were “banking on the public not picking up on the intricacies of the proposals”.
He claimed that the GMSF is the “best way” to protect the Green Belt across Greater Manchester.
“The greatest shame is that all sides know the GMSF provides the best guarantees of Stockport’s Green Belt and that a vote against it is a vote for concreting over beautiful and vital green space – not just in Stockport but also over Greater Manchester,” Dennett said.
Derek Antrobus, Salford City Council’s member for planning and sustainable development, explained that it would not be sensible to discuss the GMSF before Stockport had determined its own position, as some aspects of the framework could change following further consultation between Stockport’s councillors.
Stockport is expected to meet again in two to three weeks to make a decision on whether to approve the GMSF.
Cllr Elise Wilson, leader of Stockport Council, on Tuesday night called for “constructive engagement” among councillors to break the impasse.
“It is absolutely right that the people elected to represent their wards speak up and fight for what they believe is the right outcome for their residents,” she said.
Earlier this month, the leaders of all 10 Greater Manchester councils supported in principle the latest draft of the delayed framework.
However, the draft document requires final sign-off from each of the authorities once they have debated its contents in detail. An eight-week public consultation is scheduled to take place after that.
Several councils, including Manchester, Oldham and Bury, are due to meet next Wednesday to discuss the GMSF before it is submitted to the secretary of state for sign-off.
During the Salford City Council meeting, Antrobus made reference to what he described as a “disturbing” situation if the GMSF is not approved.
Earlier this year, the council won a battle with developer Peel L&P to resist development on a site known as Broadoak in Worsley, but Antrobus explained that, while Peel was not seeking a judicial review of the refusal, the site could still be developed at a later date if it is not given Green Belt status, as proposed in the GMSF.
“It is incumbent on the city council to bring forward [the GMSF] to protect sites under threat,” he said.