Greater Manchester looks at green belt performance

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

Manchester City Council has launched the search for a planning consultancy to conduct a Greater Manchester green belt assessment, as part of an ongoing investigation into potential development sites across the city region.

According to The Chest, the North West’s local authority procurement portal, the appointed consultancy will have a six month contract starting in November until March 2016.

The assessment forms part of the preparation for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, which is due to be in place by 2017 and will be a 20-year statutory development document that will exist alongside local plans.

A statement from the council said that the assessment will provide an overview of green belt across Greater Manchester, where it is and how it is functioning against the designated purposes of green belt as set out in law.

Dan Mitchell, partner of planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore, highlighted the launch of the procurement process at a Conservative party conference fringe event in Manchester this morning, co-hosted by Barton Willmore and the British Property Forum. Mitchell welcomed the assessment, and said that tough decisions had to be taken to meet the need for logistics space and housing.

When an outline of the Greater Manchester spatial framework was published at the start of this year, consultation respondents made up of local stakeholders and organisations said that it “lacked ambition” and criticised the lack of plans for a green belt review to unlock additional development sites.

Work to develop the Greater Manchester Spatial framework is being led by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities. From 2017, the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework will be the responsibility of the elected mayor but can only be approved with the unanimous approval of the combined authority cabinet made up of all 10 local authorities.

The council is conducting the procurement on behalf of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Cllr Sue Derbyshire, GMCA’s lead on planning, said: “The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework is vital to support the city’s region’s economic growth. It will help us determine the amount of land we need over the next 20 years for housing and employment and will help us identify where we need additional infrastructure, such as transport links or schools, to support growth.

“To fully understand how land is currently used across Greater Manchester we need to undertake a range of assessments. These include assessing current land supply, environmental conditions, heritage considerations and the availability of transport and other infrastructure. The greenbelt assessment is just one part of this wider evidence-gathering process.

“Most of our greenbelt was designated more than 30 years ago so we may need to assess how well it performs now against the purposes set by national planning policy. We also need to look at other areas of green space, which aren’t official greenbelt to see if they should be protected.

“The result of the assessment will be used to help form a draft Spatial Framework which local people and businesses will have the opportunity to provide feedback on during 2016.”

The deadline for expressions of interest is 5pm on 19 October.

Your Comments

Green belt assessment does not equal green belt review. The latter may follow, I guess, if the other GMSF evidence proves it necessary but all an assessment does is establish value in green belt terms – a review would go further to propose what land, where, should (or shouldn’t) be taken out of the green belt.

By Interested Local...

Good. I hope some greenbelt is released – in locations which are of low environmental value and where transport links can handle it (or with sufficient contibutions to transport from developers as a quid pro quo).

Ultimately more housing and more people means a bigger city that is closer to critical mass and that is good for everyone. Brownfield development will happen anyway regardless. London gets an unfair economic advantage from the huge area of land inside it’s green belt in comparison to northern cities. Current green belt rules are simply pushing greenfield development out to smaller towns like Wilmslow which are outside the green belt and force people into longer commutes. Far better to build houses on Manchester’s golf courses than tarmac over the city centre parks or pennine foothills.

By Lin

This obsession with preserving the Green Belt,when we need housing is misguided.I can appreciate,that nobody wants a Skyscraper in the Lake District,but tasteful homes on a bit of a lawn in Didsbury,would surely enhance the area.Brownfield sites sadly,tend to be in places where people with aspirations,do not want to live,at least in later life.

By Elephant

Brownfield can be made to be attractive to any demographic if they are developed in the right way employing high quality design and up-front investment in infrastructure. This requires well funded public bodies taking the lead, rigorous planing standards with different developers assigned small individual plots to build out. The current developer led model is not fit for purpose.

By Brownfield first

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