Draft Greater Manchester Spatial Framework
On Friday 21st October the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) published the Draft Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF),which outlined how the overall development requirements for the region could be split between the 10 Local Authorities.
As anticipated, Manchester will provide a large proportion of the proposed housing with 24% of the overall requirement, followed by Salford (15%), Trafford (10%) and Wigan (10%). Bury, Bolton and Tameside will each provide the smallest contribution at 6%
One of the most anticipated announcements is the significant change to the Greater Manchester Green Belt, representing a net reduction of almost 5,000 ha and providing approximately 28% of the overall housing requirement for the Plan period, as well as land for employment.
The draft GMSF identifies approximately 50 specific sites that are to be released from the Green Belt and allocated for development, but seeks to limit this to a small number of large sites, rather than piecemeal release around the edges in individual Districts. (See graph)
Says Rhian Harris from HOW Planning: “Whilst this strategy has merits and allows for the creation of new sustainable developments with the critical mass required to support and deliver necessary infrastructure and services, it isn’t without risk. Large scale strategic release/allocations can involve very long lead in times and demand massive investment in supporting infrastructure - which the Plan acknowledges. Delivering this infrastructure in a timely way will be critical to securing the boost in housing supply which the Plan is looking to achieve.
“An alternative and arguably more balanced approach would be to allow for a greater number of smaller sites (which don’t involve such major infrastructure investment up front) alongside some larger allocations. This approach would facilitate a more dispersed development distribution and potentially allow more housing development to take place on a range of sites simultaneously; thus boosting housing delivery, a core objective of the Plan and National Planning Policy.”
The Draft Plan also identifies 10 Strategic Locations across Greater Manchester. Manchester City Centre will continue to provide the primary focus for business, retail, leisure, culture and tourism, providing 1,250,000m2 of new office floorspace and around 40,000 net additional dwellings. In addition, The Quays, Airport Gateway and the other Main Town Centres (Altrincham, Ashton-under-Lyne, Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport and Wigan) will play an important role in delivering both employment and housing development over the Plan period.
Says Rhian “The challenge of producing a single Development Plan Document for Greater Manchester was always going to be significant in terms of both the complexity and scale of the task. This Draft version of the GMSF has built on the previous consultation and looks to be positive and ambitious in relation to employment growth, basing its allocations on an assumed 40% increase in the actual rates of employment development achieved since 2004 and looking to ensure a good range and choice of sites with flexibility to meet future requirements.”