‘Con­fu­sion’ de­lays green belt plan for fourth time

Middleton Guardian - - FRONT PAGE - CHAR­LOTTE GREEN

THE re­vised draft of Greater Manch­ester’s con­tentious plan­ning blue­print on the fu­ture of its green belt land is likely to be de­layed for the fourth time af­ter ‘con­fu­sion’, Andy Burn­ham has re­vealed.

Lead­ers had pledged to have a new ver­sion of the Greater Manch­ester spa­tial frame­work ready for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion in Oc­to­ber, af­ter the Mayor or­dered a ‘rad­i­cal re­write’ of the pro­pos­als in 2017.

Mr Burn­ham wants to see sig­nif­i­cantly less green belt land put for­ward for po­ten­tial de­vel­op­ment.

But it ap­pears that bosses will not meet the dead­line, which Mr Burn­ham blamed on ‘ con­fu­sion’ caused by the re­lease of new pop­u­la­tion sta­tis­tics and a forth­com­ing re­vised gov­ern­ment method­ol­ogy for as­sess­ing how many homes need to be built.

Mr Burn­ham told an au­di­ence at Old­ham li­brary last Thurs­day that the new in­for­ma­tion was ‘frus­trat­ing’ be­cause it ‘throws things back in the air again’.

And he de­nied he had ever made an out­right prom­ise to guar­an­tee no over­all loss of green belt land and had al­ways recog­nised ‘dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions’ needed to be made.

He was quizzed by a mem­ber of the pub­lic, who ref­er­enced a re­port in our sis­ter news­pa­per the M.E.N. which claimed the next stage had been de­layed due to ‘ar­gu­ments’ with the lo­cal coun­cils.

She asked: “When is it ac­tu­ally go­ing to be out for the pub­lic do­main?

Mr Burn­ham replied: “It’s a dif­fi­cult process agree­ing this, but we’re in the fi­nal stages now where we’re in the rad­i­cal re­write that I promised that I would do and coun­cils have been re­duc­ing the green belt take, so that process has been un­der­way in my time as Mayor. I am try­ing though and I con­tinue to try to mini- mise the take from green belt. That is my po­si­tion, but I am one of 11 peo­ple try­ing to agree this plan.”

Town hall lead­ers had been jointly granted pow­ers to draw up the re­gion’s long-term de­vel­op­ment mas­ter­plan un­der 2014’s de­vo­lu­tion deal.

The first draft caused wide­spread up­roar. At the may­oral ques­tion time event, Mr Burn­ham said two emerg­ing is­sues had thrown ‘con­fu­sion’ into the sit­u­a­tion.

“Firstly, new pop­u­la­tion fig­ures came out last week and the fig­ures that have been pub­lished by the Of­fice for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics are un­ex­pect­edly lower than we thought they would be,” he said.

“But the sec­ond thing is, the gov­ern­ment are go­ing to pub­lish a new method­ol­ogy for how you as­sess hous­ing need, which then has to be ap­plied to those pop­u­la­tion fig­ures.

“So we still don’t know what that fig­ure will be and here we are we’re in the process of try­ing to agree to it has, I’m afraid, added some con­fu­sion just at a crit­i­cal mo­ment.”

Mayor Andy Burn­ham

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