Spatial plan boosts ‘Devo Manc’ push

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

Council chiefs in Greater Manchester have confirmed they will prepare a statutory cross-border development plan for the 10 boroughs, as part of the next stage of the city region's call for more power.

The evidence base is currently being produced for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, which will have to go out to public consultation and require technical reports on environment and transport to be commissioned alongside.

The document would be a return to spatial planning wider than local authority borders following the abolition of regional spatial strategies under the Coalition. The current planning system includes a duty to cooperate between local authorities, which some planning advisors say is a weak tool as many local plans run aground on cross-border issues.

Greater-than-local planning is starting to make a return and sits comfortably with the city region devolution agenda, dubbed 'Devo Manc' on Twitter as the result of the Scottish independence referendum last week spread to debate about English regional governance.

Speaking at a Place North West housing debate earlier this week, Cllr Derek Antrobus, assistant mayor for planning at Salford City Council, and a member of the Greater Manchester planning and housing commission, said: "We're going to produce a Greater Manchester spatial strategy to address the long-term needs of the conurbation. It's not just looking at brownfield sites available now, and not just the five-year supply, we're looking for the next 20 to 30 years in Greater Manchester.

"We need 10,000 new homes a year [currently around 3,000 a year are built], and when you add that up that means adding another city of Manchester to the Greater Manchester area. That's a huge challenge and will require us to look beyond the brownfield sites, but we can do that in a controlled way through the local plan system."

The event was hosted by Place North West in association with Remarkable Engagement at the Bridgewater Hall on Monday, to coincide with the Labour party conference.

As part of a report to a joint meeting of Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities on 29 August, Eamonn Boylan, chief executive of Stockport Council and lead officer for housing and planning in the combined authority, presented an update on the progress of the evidence base for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework. The members agreed with Boylan's recommendation to prepare a statutory development plan document, with officers to submit a report on the process in due course.

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