Stockport Lib Dems continue fight against GMSF

A proposal from seven Liberal Democrat councillors in Stockport to remove the local authority from the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework has been voted down, for the second time in as many months.

At a meeting which took place on Thursday 19 December, Cllr Iain Roberts and Cllr Mark Hunter put forward a motion, seconded by five other councillors, asking the council and executive leader to “ensure the framework does not apply to Stockport”.

The emerging GMSF, which is still in draft form, includes proposals for 12,100 homes on green belt land in Stockport and has proved controversial with residents and councillors. Potential sites for residential development include 4,000 units at High Lane, 2,000 units at Woodford, and 2,000 homes at Heald Green.

In December, a similar motion was put to Stockport Council by the same set of Liberal Democrat councillors, asking that Stockport be removed from the GMSF “as the quantity of greenbelt land provisionally allocated and the scale of housing development proposed are unacceptable.”

The proposal was rejected, with 18 councillors voting for, 36 against, and six abstentions.

Despite the loss, the motion again returned to the meeting yesterday, with Cllr Roberts and Cllr Hunter criticising the GMSF, saying that it “is based upon growth assumptions over such a long period which cannot be verified”, and that “the GMSF proposals include significant releases of Green Belt in Stockport which residents and politicians alike have reacted strongly against”.

The council once again voted against the proposal.

The Labour group controls the council as the largest party but does not have an overall majority. There are 63 councillors; 23 Labour, 21 Liberal Democrats, 14 Conservatives, three independent ratepayers and two from Stockport Residents Group.

The political debate across the city region around the GMSF is getting increasingly heated, with Labour mayoral candidate Andy Burnham calling for the plan to be rewritten, and Liberal Democrat candidate Jane Brophy saying it should be scrapped entirely.

The GMSF will require a unanimous vote from the 11 people around the table at Greater Manchester Combined Authority; the mayor and 10 council leaders.

The plan calls for large areas of land to be released from green belt to accommodate 63,000 out of 227,000 residential units envisaged by 2035. The current round of consultation into the draft GMSF ended at the start of this week.

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Weren’t the Lib Dems the biggest party in Stockport when they signed up to the GMSF? It’s a big outbreak of pure NIMBYism on their part. At least Andy Burnham is suggesting an alternative to housing areas that MIGHT have been drawn too widely in SOME cases, rather than just trying to destroy it.

By Gene Walker

Yes, they did. Shameless opportunism on the part of Mark Hunter and one of his colleagues. More about their parliamentary ambitions than the future housing needs of Greater Manchester. Rather showboat and torch the whole thing now, increasing the chances of green belt development, than see this process through.

By Michael Taylor

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