GMSF Area
Stockport Council voted against the GMSF due to concerns over the loss of Green Belt land

Wheels turn on revised GMSF process 

Dan Whelan

Nine Greater Manchester local authorities are preparing to form a committee to progress the alternative Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, dubbed Places for Everyone. 

Stockport Council withdrew from the much-maligned GMSF in December and the remaining nine boroughs opted in principle to forge ahead with a new plan to allocate housing and employment sites across the conurbation.

This Friday, at a meeting of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s executive board, Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan councils will each be asked to hold full council meetings to consult on the formation of a new committee to draw up a refreshed plan. 

Each authority will also be asked to nominate its lead committee member – this is expected to be the leader of each council – and to delegate the preparation of the Places for Everyone plan to the committee. 

Like the GMSF did, the plan aims to guide development strategy in Greater Manchester until 2037 through the allocation of land for housing and employment space.

Paul Dennett, City Mayor of Salford and the GMCA’s lead for housing, planning and homelessness, said: “The need to map out sustainable growth and protect against unplanned development hasn’t gone away. In the midst of a public health crisis that has struck hardest in the most disadvantaged places, having a positive and ambitious vision for our city-region is more important than it’s ever been.

“The extensive work already carried out [to draft the GMSF] means we won’t be starting from scratch, and together our nine councils can get on with bringing forward a new plan that maximises brownfield development and protects Green Belt as much as is possible.”

Stockport’s withdrawal from the GMSF came after a rebellion by Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors over proposed Green Belt development in the borough. As a result of Stockport quitting the joint plan, proposed land allocations in the borough will not be included in the Places for Everyone plan.

Instead, targets for building homes and creating jobs will be distributed across nine boroughs instead of 10, while Stockport will focus on drawing up its own local plan.

However, the nine-borough committee is still expected to consult with Stockport over matters of “strategic, cross-boundary significance”, such as the scale and distribution of housing and employment land and transport infrastructure, according to a report to the GMCA board. 

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “We want our councils to produce a credible plan that accommodates growth in the most sustainable way possible.

“While this is a plan that nine of our councils would be developing, every borough in Greater Manchester will continue working together to meet the big challenges we all face: building back better and fairer, tackling inequalities, and decarbonising our economy.”

Register for Place North West’s dedicated GMSF event on 25 February, sponsored by Savills, VU.CITY, Cowgills and Cratus. 

Your Comments

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Good to see this still moving forward, hopefully the 9 boroughs will now take priority when it comes to other areas like transport. Scrap the proposed Metrolink to Stockport and make one to Bolton and Wigan a priority.

By MrGM

Agreed with MrGM – leave that borough behind in these proposals and invest money elsewhere if their elected representatives oppose these plans.

By MrF

Hilarious because Stockport will now have to provide more homes and give up more green belt without the protection of the GMSF. Short-sighted Conservatives strike again. Hopefully Stockport Tory voters will learn their lessons in future

By Anonymous

It wasn’t “maligned” by anyone really apart from the Stockport faction. I’d imagine Stockport will come to see this as their “Brexit” moment – absolutely all for going it alone until someone turns up with a planning app for their green fields which they can’t defend cos they’ve no proven land supply. Careful what you wish for etc.

By Sceptic

Well done Stockport! I only wish you could show as much senseand stop the ridiculous and dangerous introduction of cycle lanes.

By robert stephenson

Hugely disappointed in the continuation of this destructive plan which unnecessarily removes great swathes of greenbelt. Andy Burnham, Eamonn O’Brien and Bury Council Labour councillors will have a lot to answer for to future generations.Baseline data is flawed and the project discredited. We will oppose this hard and long and opposition will not go away.

By Janet Taylor

Ridiculous that the powers that be seem to think demolition of greenbelt is a worthwhile strategy. They can use big words, make sentences ineligible. But they are lying through their back teeth. At every opportunity Labour blames the tories, they blame Labour. But these people are getting paid a fortune to destroy our health. Wake up folks its not red or blue. It’s greed and in some cases corruption.

By Andy

What on earth is the point of continuing with nine councils? I thought the whole point of GMCA was to do things to benefit the entire region . I also think a good hard look needs to be made as circumstances have changed so much. Brexit will have changed expectations of housing need and jobs, the pandemic has changed how people shop and work from home, and these changes may be more permanent than some anticipate . A good hard reconsideration is needed, not least because local elections are imminent, and the GM Mayor might change. The plan needs to be right, and in many boroughs, the electorate are clearly saying they think a completely different plan is needed.

By Barbara Wilkinson

I glad to see this is still progressing without the Luddites of Stockport.

By Monty

This plan isn’t for each borough. Bury is the smallest borough in Grt Manchester and under this stands to lose the most. You say decarbonise but Bury will use Greenbelt land to build houses with no infrastructure.
The people in charge will possibly change in May so why rush something through now?

By Marco Withy

Mr GM / Mr F – Stockport has always been left behind by Metrolink and GM transport investment. Is it any wonder the Borough isn’t willing to tow the line like others?

By NC

New houses have to go somewhere and they will always be in someone’s back yard. Not everything can go on brownfield land.

The challenge is less where they go (much so-called green belt is ugly, low value scrub land anyway) but in ensuring that the resultant development is really high quality, beautiful, green and served by ample infrastructure including shops services public realm and transport. The cause of opposition to housing development is more to do with the depressing low quality sprawl they dump on our towns and cities and the problems it causes for overburdened infrastructure.

By Housing Realist

Stockport will now be forced into giving up more greenbelt than if they had signed up to the GMSF this would be the same in Bury if they were to pull out as well. Politicians have failed to explain this to residents

By Anonymous

The NIMBYs are almost wholly concerned with residential development and there is seemingly little or no objection to the vast job creation opportunities in releasing land for commercial use. Whilst the majority are left to bicker over housing allocations, release the employment land in a separate exercise and move on. Jobs and business rate income is much needed, particularly in the north and east of the county.

By Holcomber

I would also add that Wigan feels for Stockport here. Also, slightly alarming the heavy handedness of some on here. We were forced into GM without a vote, one suspects to up GM’s population stats. Not much difference thus far. I think Wigan is too far for a metro link – surely improving train service is better? Also, we need folk to come to Wigan, not just be carted off to Manchester. Be also nice to improve train links to other places too e.g., Liverpool for ferry terminals for Isle of Man.

By Wiganer

@Robert Stephenson, are cycle lanes dangerous? Surely cars are the danger and the more cars we can get off the road, by encouraging active travel, the better.

By Anonymous

The alternative to building on the green belt is to build higher and more densely in existing urban centres. But middle class nimbys and vulnerable local councillors kick and scream against that. They love the views from their own towers but don’t want anyone else to have it!! Something has to give!

By Toored