‘Confusion is delaying plans for green belt’
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 next months’ 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 ●●Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham (inset) says ‘confusion’ over new statistics mean the revised draft of the spatial framework is likely to be delayed for the fourth time 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 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 minimise 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.”