ROW COULD SET HOMES PLAN BACK BY OVER A YEAR
GREATER Manchester’s controversial 20-year development masterplan could be delayed by well over a year so council bosses can go back to the drawing board.
A rift has emerged among town hall chiefs and new mayor Andy Burnham over how quickly to plough ahead with the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF).
Officials are eyeing up a major rewrite following Mr Burnham’s manifesto pledges and public concern over green belt.
One option under discussion is to aim for it to come into force in spring 2020, rather than the December 2018 date originally intended. But some council bosses are opposed to the delay, believing it will harm investor confidence in the region.
The GMSF – the region’s long term development blueprint – caused a storm when it was unveiled in draft form last year due to the dozens of greenfield and green belt sites earmarked for new housing and businesses.
Council chiefs now believe it was not clear enough in its vision, while also accepting some green sites will need to be removed due to public opposition.
A private meeting of combined authority leaders recently saw three new potential timetables put forward for the plan so it can be rewritten.
One option would involve consulting on a new draft this autumn, a couple of months later than originally planned, before submitting to government a year later in the hope of adopting it in September 2019.
A second option, understood to have been favoured by Mr Burnham, would put the consultation back until early next year.
That raised questions among leaders over the impact on the local elections next May, however, while some councils – including Oldham and Stockport – could need longer than others to revisit their own particularly controversial proposals.
As a result a third, even longer delay, putting back consultation until next June, is also on the table.
That would mean no final draft would be published until at least December 2018 – and nothing for- mally adopted until spring 2020.
Sources close to Mr Burnham said no decision had been reached on the timetable following the meeting, but stressed extra time was needed to get it right.
Last year’s consultation on the first draft drew 25,000 responses, huge numbers of which opposed building on the green belt.
Mr Burnham’s office also believes the first version paid too little attention to building highdensity housing in town centres. And he believes the plan does not dovetail clearly enough with the region’s long-term visions for transport and affordable housing.
Delaying the plan to meet the mayor’s promises will raise questions over why last year’s consultation, which cost at least £80,000, was not put off until after he was elected.
It is understood around half the region’s council bosses do not want to see the plan delayed.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham