While a Conservative motion urging Trafford Council to pull its support for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework was defeated last night, a move by the Green Party to reduce the borough’s housing allocation was supported.
The council’s Conservative group put forward a motion last week, arguing Trafford “cannot support the GMSF in its current form” due to Green Belt release and uncertainty over the area’s housing allocation.
It followed comments made by Housing Minister Kit Malthouse in February as to where responsibility should lie for assessing housing need; Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham later demanded Malthouse provide clarity on the issue.
The motion said that the comments from Malthouse “casts further considerable doubt on the integrity of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.
“The Minister has confirmed the Government’s policy position, that it is for local areas to determine and make the justification for any deviation from assessed housing need in a local area.
“Council is concerned that Trafford is releasing more Green Belt land as a percentage of its proposed allocations to meet need than any other borough in Greater Manchester, and is doing so whilst this uncertainty exists.
“Given these factors, and until a satisfactory resolution is found, the council cannot support the GMSF in its present form.”
The motion was defeated along party lines last night, with all 28 Conservative councillors voting in favour, but the Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Green groups voting against.
An amendment by Green councillors, Dan Jerrome and Geraldine Coggins, was passed. This argued for the protection of areas such as Carrington Moss, a large amount of which is earmarked for release under the draft plan.
Although Flixton’s Green Belt has been spared from the GMSF, a key campaign pledge of Labour’s Andrew Western in 2018, the Timperley Wedge and Carrington are earmarked to be released from the Green Belt, putting them in line to house up to 12,400 homes and more than 4m sq ft of employment space.
The Timperley site sits between Hale, Hale Barns, Timperley, Baguley and Wythenshawe Hospital, and has been allocated to provide around 2,400 homes over the next 18 years along with a minimum of nearly 650,000 sq ft of employment space, primarily offices.
The allocation for housing here is significantly lower than the 3,300 units put forward in 2016. A large chunk of Green Belt remains to the west of Timperley Brook and Clay Lane, which the Greater Manchester Combined Authority said would maintain the separation of Timperley and Hale.
The Green Party’s motion stated the council should “continue to push for a reduction in Trafford’s housing allocation, to minimise Green Belt take in Trafford”, as well as “confirm[ing] that the council wishes to work constructively to see a satisfactory conclusion and is willing to work cross party to achieve as such”.
The motion also argued the council should “do all we can to protect all our green spaces, in particular Green Belt land such as that at Timperley Wedge and Carrington”.
Another Green motion, backed by the Lib Dems, also passed, which will end the use of dangerous herbicides across the borough’s green spaces over the next year.
It will now be down to leader Cllr Andrew Western to communicate Trafford’s concerns to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who is experiencing push-back over the revised GMSF from various angles, including the Government’s own civil servants who have said that the decrease in the City Region’s housing targets could see it lose a £70m housing deal.