A motion has been submitted by the local authority’s Conservative group ahead of Trafford Council’s meeting next week asking leader Andrew Western to pressure the Greater Manchester leadership over its proposed spatial framework.
The motion features prominently the release of green belt sites in the borough, ultimately concluding that Trafford should be prepared to pursue its own Local Plan outside of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework. The motion’s tabling follows 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 tabled by Trafford’s Conservative group – who controlled the council until May’s 2018 elections – said that “this council notes with interest the comments of the Housing Minister in relation to assessed housing need which 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.”
In a pointed dig at a process primarily involving Labour administrations, the group said: “This follows a protracted two-year delay to revise the document primarily for partisan political purposes, the outcome of which is still vague assurances over infrastructure, which in many respects lack credibility and therefore confidence of the public, and still contains the release of significant amounts of green belt.”
The GMSF will next week reach the end of its consultation period. Although Flixton’s Green Belt, a key campaign pledge of Labour’s Andrew Western in 2018, was spared, the Timperley Wedge and Carrington are earmarked to be released from the Green Belt, putting them in line to house up to 12,400 new homes and more than 4m sq ft of employment space.
The Timperley site sits between Hale, Hale Barns, Timperley, Baguley and Wythenshawe Hospital, has been allocated to provide around 2,400 new 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 originally-proposed 3,300 residential 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 motion continues: “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 calls for the leader of the council to confirm that position to Burnham, asking in addition to confirm that unless these factors can be overcome, that the council wishes to pursue its own local plan outside of the GMSF – adding however that the council wishes to see a satisfactory conclusion and is willing to work cross-party to achieve that.
The motion suggests the establishment of a “scrutiny task and finish group” with the sole intention of securing cross-party support for housing proposals in Trafford alongside securing definitive infrastructure commitments from relevant bodies.