New Mayor Andy Burnham this morning confirmed he would rework the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, to include more emphasis on affordable homes, fringe towns, and a “significant reduction” in plans to build on Green Belt.
Burnham named Mayor of Salford Paul Dennett as the new portfolio lead for housing, regeneration and homelessness, taking over from Cllr Richard Farnell, leader of Rochdale Council.
Watch Burnham’s announcement on the GMSF in full:
Burnham said he wasn’t yet “setting a specific timetable” for the rewrite, but that his priority was to deliver “the right plan, not a rushed plan”.
Work on the GMSF has been ongoing since 2014. A first draft was published in October and recommended 227,200 new homes be built in the next 20 years, 28% of the new units on Green Belt land, 12,000 acres of which would be removed from GM’s protected land.
A final draft was due to go out to consultation later this year, and adoption was scheduled for 2018.
On the current draft, Burnham said it would have delivered “decaying town centres, surrounded by urban sprawl”.
While a change in position on the Green Belt formed a key part of his announcement, Burnham also stressed that “Greater Manchester can’t stand still, we can’t close the door on development… It’s not possible to protect every bit of Green Belt.”
He called for more of a focus on Greater Manchester’s fringe towns and asked the property community: “Bring me schemes, imaginative schemes, for a new focus and future for our town centres.”
The £300m Greater Manchester Housing Fund also came under attack by Burnham and new housing lead Dennett. While Burnham said that “not all of the loans from the fund have been wrong”, it had placed too much emphasis on supporting high-rise, private rented sector projects, which had then been sold on to international investors.
Dennett agreed: “The beneficiaries of what we’ve done in Greater Manchester, are not the people who live in Greater Manchester.”
The first £300m tranche of the fund has been allocated, and loans are now being repaid. Burnham said these repayments signalled “a change of focus” for the fund, which would now be used towards “council housing and affordable housing”.
Schemes that have received loans from the fund include £70m to Renaker for its PRS project at Owen Street, £36m to Select Property for the residential element of Circle Square, £43m to Urban & Civic for its “high end” residential scheme on Princess Street.