Revised GMSF slashes Green Belt release by 60%
The latest draft of Greater Manchester’s long-awaited spatial strategy cuts proposed release of Green Belt land for development and focuses growth on a “core area” encompassing the city centre and parts of east Manchester, Trafford and Salford.
The draft Greater Manchester Spatial Framework reduces Green Belt release by 60% compared to proposals in the first edition of the document in 2016. It also reduces the amount of land earmarked for employment uses, by 50% compared to 2016.
Published this afternoon, the current document is the third version of the GMSF that has been produced in the past few years, and developers, planners, local authorities and others are pressing for its adoption as a matter of urgency.
It was supposed to have been published for consultation in March but was delayed due to the pandemic. Today’s version is intended to support Greater Manchester’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, and build the right housing, transport and employment infrastructure to create a long-term, sustainable future for citizens.
Councillors are reviewing the document ahead of a GMCA meeting on 30 October. If approved by all 10 boroughs, it will go out for public consultation for eight weeks from 1 December to 26 January 2021.
The key points are:
- The document allocates land to deliver 180,000 homes over the plan period (2020-2037), of which 50,000 are to be affordable.
- By reducing the number of proposed sites that would result in Green Belt loss, the document proposes a 3.25% reduction in Greater Manchester’s total Green Belt, from 46.7% currently, to 45.1% or 4,800 acres of Green Belt
- The amount of designated employment land has shrunk 50% compared to what was proposed in 2016, to minimise Green Belt release, said the GMCA. Several of the sites are large in scale and will be partially delivered beyond 2037, including a potential growth area in north-east Oldham. Around two-thirds of proposed industrial supply falls in Wigan, Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Oldham and Tameside. The GMSF allocates land to deliver at least 45m sq ft of industrial and warehousing floorspace over the plan period.
- The document allocates land to deliver around 26m sq ft of new office space over the plan period
- The majority of development will be on land within the urban area, most of which is brownfield land, says the GMSF. Brownfield is proposed to account for 88% of housing, 99% of offices and 47% of industrial space.
Almost half of the city-region’s population growth between now and 2037 is projected to occur in Manchester, Salford and Trafford, according to the GMCA, so the latest draft concentrates proposed growth in those areas.
The spatial strategy has three priorities:
1) Developing a Core Growth Area: focussing on inner city regeneration through new jobs and housing within central Manchester and beyond to the Etihad Stadium in the east and the Northern Gateway in the north, through to south-east Salford in the west and north Trafford (including Trafford Park) in the south.
2) Boost Northern boroughs’ competitiveness: focussing on the provision of new employment opportunities in Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Tameside, Wigan, and west Salford
3) Sustain Southern competitiveness: supporting Stockport, most of Trafford, and south Manchester with a focus on key economic drivers, for example around Wythenshawe Hospital and Manchester Airport, Stockport Town Centre, and areas that stand to benefit from national infrastructure investment, for example High Speed Two in Crewe.
The document also identifies developing green infrastructure as a priority, to improve wellbeing and support the city-region’s goals of becoming net-zero carbon by 2038. And transport infrastructure is key to help deliver the wider plan, with the GMSF being produced alongside Transport for Greater Manchester’s Five-Year Transport Delivery Plan and Greater Manchester’s 2040 Transport Strategy.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework is the cornerstone of our plans for the future. This is a plan by and for all 10 boroughs, setting out how we can direct the sustainable growth that will benefit our communities and help Greater Manchester recover from the effects of this crisis.
“Since the first draft went out to consultation in 2016 you have responded in your thousands, and we have listened. This final draft has seen plans for green belt sites cut by 60 per cent, with a focus on bringing forward brownfield development wherever possible.
“Our plans will protect our most important natural areas, deliver a sustainable travel network, and guard our boroughs from the risk of unplanned development.
“While we continue to confront the pandemic, we also have a duty to look ahead and make sure our city-region builds back better for our people and places. The [GMSF] is about making sure our city-region leads the way in providing good jobs, good housing, and tackling the climate crisis.
“The plan we’re publishing today will be the blueprint for how Greater Manchester faces the future together.”
Gary Halman, planning principal at Avison Young in Manchester, said: “Its good to see that the GMSF has, after many delays, finally been published in its revised draft form. This has still yet to be signed off by all 10 metropolitan boroughs, though.
“A city-region plan is desperately needed to provide the guidance that local councils require so they can move forward with new local plans for their own areas- most of which are currently time-expired and need to be brought up to date.
“We will be looking at the policies and proposals in detail now. The acid test will be whether the amended strategy can genuinely deliver the new homes and jobs that the region so urgently needs.”
This latest version of the GMSF was supposed to have been published by the end of last month, under a revised timeframe set out by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in September.
However, further delays ensued due to a dispute between Stockport and Tameside councils over a 1.4m sq ft expansion of the Bredbury Park industrial complex that is included in the GMSF. The dispute has yet to be resolved and Stockport Council is to debate the issue when it votes on whether or not to approve the GMSF on 17 November.