The city council yesterday voted to approve the draft Greater Manchester Spatial Framework ahead of a period of public consultation, while spats over Green Belt continue to divide other boroughs, casting doubt over the plan as a whole.
Manchester City Council agreed that the framework, which maps out land allocations across Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs, should be submitted to the secretary of state for examination following the eight-week period of public consultation that is due to start on 1 December.
However, it is almost certain the consultation will not begin this side of Christmas, due largely to ongoing and well-publicised wrangling over the Green Belt in Stockport and the subsequent delay in determination of the GMSF draft by other councils.
Stockport’s Conservative group warned that it planned to vote against the latest version of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, despite achieving some hoped-for concessions including the removal of a Green Belt site earmarked for 500 homes.
There are now concerns that Stockport Council could withdraw from the GMSF completely despite pleas from Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.
The failure of Stockport’s councillors to reach consensus has had a knock-on effect across Greater Manchester. Salford, Oldham, Rochdale, Trafford and Bury have deferred a decision on the GMSF until there is more clarity on Stockport’s position.
In addition, Conservative councillors from Salford have challenged City Mayor Paul Dennett’s recommendation to approve the GMSF in its current form, amid concerns that not enough consideration has been given to certain aspects of the plan.
A group of eight Conservative councillors from Bury has lodged a similar challenge against its own cabinet’s recommendation to approve the GMSF, claiming the framework is a “gamble” and demanding further scrutiny over the plan.
However, Tameside Council, alongside Manchester, has backed the proposals.
A spokesperson for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority said: “Following the deferral at Stockport Council, talks were held with local political leaders and it initially appeared as if progress was being made towards a solution. However that does not now look to have been the case.
“This is a now matter for local councils, including Stockport Council, to decide on. If local authorities do decide to withdraw from the GMSF then they will be required to build their full Government housing allocation. Stockport Council is a major beneficiary of the GMSF, so choosing to withdraw would mean identifying land for 5,000 more homes within the borough than would have to be built with the GMSF.”
Cllr John Blundell, cabinet member at Rochdale Council, said adopting the GMSF should be a “no-brainer” for Stockport.
“Stockport is delivering fewer than the Government says it should because other boroughs are picking them up. So it’s ironic that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Stockport are not supporting a plan that their borough is one of the biggest beneficiaries of.
“Let’s hope they make the right decision for Stockport and Greater Manchester.”
Stockport Council will meet to decide on a way forward next Thursday.