The leaders of all 10 Greater Manchester councils have supported the latest draft of the delayed spatial framework, intended to map areas for future development and support post-Covid economic recovery.
In a GMCA meeting on Friday, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham praised Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett, who leads on the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, for his “patience and painstaking work” in achieving consensus across all 10 boroughs to approve the draft document.
Dennett said: “Strategic planning is really important, and even more so in a context of significant national and global uncertainty.
“Let’s not play politics with this plan. In doing so we could end up with a disaster.”
The GMSF allocates land for housing and employment development over the next two decades to create a sustainable future for citizens, and has been the source of contention in recent years, particularly due to concerns over proposed Green Belt release.
The latest draft, published last month, reduces Green Belt release by 60% compared to proposals in the first edition of the document in 2016. It also reduces the amount of land earmarked for employment uses, by 50% compared to in 2016.
Bolton Council leader David Greenhalgh praised the brownfield-first approach of the framework, while Andrew Western, leader of Trafford Council, said the latest draft was “an extremely important document in terms of how we move forward as a green city-region”.
Elise Wilson, leader of Stockport Council, said the framework would drive growth and investment in the region – an opinion echoed by Rochdale Council leader Allen Brett, who said the borough “fully supports” the plan.
Meanwhile, Bury Council leader Eamonn O’Brien said the framework strikes a “good balance” between meeting the borough’s housing requirements and preserving Green Belt land.
Sean Fielding, leader of Oldham Council, praised the collaboration that had been shown in drawing up the plan, adding that buy-in from the region’s only Conservative leader, Greenhalgh, demonstrated cross-party support for the framework.
Tameside Council leader Brenda Warrington said the framework was a “true Greater Manchester joint venture”, while Wigan Council leader, David Molyneux, said the changes made since the publication of the 2016 draft showed that the region had listened to residents’ concerns.
“The plan going forward is going to play a big part in how we recover,” he added.
The GMSF will now be debated by all 10 councils this month ahead of the launch of an eight-week public consultation between 1 December to 26 January 2021.