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.