The council, which withdrew from the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework last year amid concerns over Green Belt release, is welcome to return to the fold but time is running out, said Manchester’s regeneration lead.
“The door is still open to Stockport,” Cllr Angeliki Stogia, Manchester City Council’s executive member for environment, planning and transport, told a Place North West event on the future of the GMSF.
However, Cllr David Meller, Stockport Council’s cabinet member for regeneration – who had been supportive of the proposals laid out in the GMSF and said he did not want to withdraw – said deciding to return to the joint plan now could delay the already protracted process further.
“If we come back in, it might hold things up and the last thing we would want to do is hold back the plan. The ticking clock and urgency could help formulate the plan,” he said.
“The new ‘plan of nine’ [boroughs] is absolutely the right thing for Greater Manchester and I am glad it is happening.
The council, which has no overall majority, opted out of the GMSF in December following a revolt by Conservative councillors who refused to back the latest draft of the framework that had the support of the other nine Greater Manchester boroughs.
Bury, Bolton, Oldham, Manchester, Tameside, Wigan, Rochdale, Trafford, and Salford are now progressing the Places for Everyone plan, a revised version of the GMSF, and hope to launch it for public consultation before the end of the year.
The GMSF was designed to allocate land for housing and employment use across the 10 Greater Manchester authorities.
However, having chosen to go it alone, Stockport must now create a local plan that proves it can still meet Government-set housing targets.
If it cannot, Stockport leaves itself open to the possibility of losing some of the Green Belt land that Tory councillors were fighting to project, Stogia said.
The “colourful” political situation within the council made Stockport’s involvement in the GMSF more difficult, Meller added. Regardless of the political make-up of a local authority, matters pertaining to planning are always likely to stir up emotions.
“Other councils in Greater Manchester are more unified but there is always the potential for conflict in planning,” he said.
“I think the fact that the plan of nine has universal buy-in is vitally important. There may be bumps along the way but its ambition is exciting.”