The original GMSF was published back in 2016, identifying sites for 227,000 homes and planning to create 20,000 jobs by 2035. Numerous green belt sites were allocated in the framework to deliver these houses including land at Pilsworth, Carrington, Cheadle Hulme and Ashton Moss.
This months revised draft, launched on the 7th January by Mayor Andy Burnham, Deputy Mayors Sir Richard Leese and Bev Hughes, and the leaders of the region’s councils, cuts its reliance on green belt land by more than half and illustrates a drive to protect the existing green belt where possible and to provide stronger protection for important environmental assets.
Around a quarter of these homes would be classed as ‘affordable’ – 50,000 – with over half of those at social rent, although how the conurbation intends to define affordability, and where those houses would go, is yet to be confirmed. In total, leaders hope to deliver a lowered target of 201,000 homes.
The revised draft concentrates even more ‘high density’ development in Manchester and Salford – apartments, essentially – as well as in town centres such as Stockport and Bolton in order to reduce the amount of protected green space under threat elsewhere. Around 15 green belt sites have been removed from the plan altogether. Nevertheless, nearly 40 of those earmarked in the original version are still in the new draft – albeit substantially reduced in size in many cases, if not the majority. The total amount of green belt space under threat has roughly halved under the new plan, with a further 65 patches of land given new green belt status.
Insiders say this was because the original document was planning for more homes than the region needed. The ‘compromise’ is understood to involve loss in the more deprived East and North whereas Stockport and Trafford will see radically reduced Green Belt loss – the losses may be driven by politics not strategy or potential for intensification in each LPA, indeed there is likely to be an inverse relationship given the more prosperous south and west will have greater viability.
The leaders also launched the Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040. More than 65 projects are set to be completed within the next five years, including Metrolink’s Trafford Park Line, buying 27 new trams and a new walking and cycling infrastructure across all 10 districts. It is hoped that by 2040 that half of all daily trips in Greater Manchester will be made by public transport, cycling and walking, especially shorter journeys around local neighbourhoods.