Consultation on the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework has just three days to run, bringing to a close a two-month process examining a plan described this week by Mayor Andy Burnham as supporting “ambitious levels of growth”.
Burnham’s rewrite of the GMSF was revealed in January, outlining the sites, including some Green Belt release, which will be used to deliver a minimum of 201,000 new homes by 2037, mainly focused in Manchester, Salford, Trafford and Oldham, alongside 65m sq ft of employment space.
Of the homes, 50,000 are to be classed as affordable, with at least 30,000 available as social housing. The planned employment development includes 24m sq ft of offices, and 42m sq ft of warehouses.
One of the notable areas concerned Green Belt release in Trafford. Andrew Western, Labour leader, had made retaining the Flixton Green Belt a key priority ahead of the May 2018 elections, which saw Labour take over the council. Flixton was indeed saved, with Carrington and the more contentious Timperley Green Wedge making up Trafford’s contribution to Green Belt release.
Trafford’s Conservatives this week filed a motion saying that, following comments made by housing minister Kit Malthouse in February, it cannot support GMSF in its current guise, and that the borough should be prepared to go its own way.
Consultation on GMSF opened on 14 January, with professionals missed as to their views on the framework. Some believe it unambitious in its targets, while writing for Place North West, Paul Martin, managing director of Patrick Properties, described over-reliance on large-scale sites as too big a gamble.
Martin said: “Independent research has proven that overly large ‘strategic’ sites take far longer to develop out than smaller sites. Just because there is a brownfield site, in an area of the least political and community outcry, doesn’t mean it is the right site for a huge number of homes, or that those homes will be deliverable.
“For me, this is too big a gamble, especially when the overall housing target is already lower than it was, and is the minimum number that can be delivered over the plan period. This is a very dangerous bet for our city region.”