Bennett Burnham
Paul Dennett, left, and Andy Burnham, announced plans to overhaul the GMSF at a press conference in Salford this morning

VIDEO | Burnham announces ‘radical rewrite’ of GMSF

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

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.

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The fund has been spent on Central Manchester and bits of Salford within walking distance of Central Manchester.Burnham needs to stop Greater Manchester, becoming Britain in miniature,where London gets almost everything and the odd scheme is given to a city outside,as an afterthought.There is already a North/South divide in GM.Anyone using the M60 can see the huge developments around the Trafford centre,Media city,the Port of Salford,continuing down to the airport,compared to the acres of empty land around North Manchester and Oldham.The Mayor must put in measures to stop this divide,becoming a gulf.

By Elephant

One of many Signs that manchester is heading the same way london was to the way it is now. In a nutshell a smaller london created in the northwest…..

By Mike

Well, he’s saying all of the right things. Now time to deliver on them.

By MancLad

Really like this guy and he’s hit the nail right on the head about loans being made to PRS investors purely to create wealth for external investors.

By Bubble-burster

It’s not as simple as all that. We live in a world where global capital drives investment decisions. Public subsidy for high rise city centre schemes confers important regeneration benefits making it more likely that global capital seeking decent, safe returns acrually invests in the barren wastelands surrounding the city centre that have seen an almost complete absence of investment over much of the last century. We are seeing cranes on sites that were regarded as completely unrealistic only a few years ago and that is largely due to the confidence that the publicly-funded schemes have helped generate.

The further benefits of this are more choice and availability for renters, provision of homes close to jobs, highly visible signs of investment and the pot gets recycled and enlarged very much quicker ready to support more schemes. Businesses looking to relocate to the city also know their workforce is going to be able to find housing close by.

Now a greater focus on affordable housing is all very well but you risk sacrificing all the above benefits in the process. It’s also not feasible due to the restrictions government put on the use of the fund.

Personally I would have liked to have seen the housing fund used in the same way for at least another cycle before putting it to use for affordable and council developments. Of course it can always be used more effectively, not funding dross like Peel and Rowlinson’s Pomona scheme and LPAs using s106 and planning conditions more effectively to improve quality and demand more affordable units.

In summary this announcement by the mayor is premature I feel.

By Housey

Housey – perhaps the developers could fund risk from their own profit rather than de-risk projects/”barren wastelands” with low interest loans from public money instead?

By Bubble-burster

Very, very pleased to see the announcement that Andy Burnham will rewrite GMSF. It has always been obvious that if large lumps of the green belt are released, then they will inevitably get developed first whatever the plan said, and our town centres will rot.

Time for a visit to some of the continental cities to see how they do it. Some very good deals on Ryanair to Hamburg, Nuremburg or Eindhoven!

By Peter Black

Bubble-burster, in an ideal world yes. But developers can’t put up the full equity and investors aren’t obliged to put their money into Manchester are they? If they can get better returns in Guadalajara or Singapore instead then that’s where their money will go instead. Capital is global.

By Housey

I definitely feel that more scrutiny is required to whether public investment in some of these schemes is a last resort

By Parrott

Good comments here. Always wary of politicians talking about Council housing. Who within a Council has the skills to build homes? Agree that the fund needs a better geographic spread but the aspiration for most remains home ownership so surely the fund should continue a focus on private stock? Besides all the RP’S are awash with cash anyway, they don’t need capital like a private house builder does.

By nc

Councils manage all sorts of capital projects successfully, nc. Some are forming their own housing companies and delivering for sale and rented housing of a quality that is a cut above most volume-built units. Most private for-sale houses are pretty basic builds anyway, the real challenge is access to land and that’s about information rather than skills.

If Burnham does refocus the fund on social / council schemes, they have to be mixed tenure and promote build quality and place making, not simply buying small, poor quality units from a volume builder.

By Housey

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