GMSF delayed for the third time
The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) has been delayed for the third time with an intention to publish the next version in October 2018. Emerging reports of the delay began in June, however, the official statement was made by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) on 3 July 2018.
Following public consultation on the first draft of the GMSF in October 2016, GMCA had intended to consult on a ‘Publication Plan’ in summer 2017, with submission to the Secretary of State at the end of 2017. However, this was delayed after the Mayor, Andy Burnham, instructed a radical rewrite of the Spatial Framework with an objective to oversee "… a substantial reduction in the loss of Green Belt" with the intention to publish the revised draft of the GMSF in June 2018.
Following the local elections in May 2018 and changes to the membership of the Combined Authority, the promised re-write was due to be delayed until July 2018.
It has now been announced that consultation on the second draft of the GMSF has been delayed until October 2018 following the release of updated population projections, which show a slower rate of growth than expected.
Population and Household Projections
Whilst the population projections are relevant, the key measure to estimate the future housing requirements in a revised draft GMSF will be updated household projections. This data is not due to be published by ONS (in two stages) until September 2018 and later in the autumn 2018.
The timing of the release of this data raises questions as to whether there will be sufficient time to update the key housing need evidence base in relation to Objectively Assessed Housing Need (OAHN) in time for an October draft GMSF.
Together with an updated housing land supply study, the new OAHN will be a key determinant in the need for and extent of Green Belt release across the GMCA area.
Supply of Housing Land
The 2016 draft GMSF identified an existing supply capable of delivering 170,437 units. According to a news release earlier in the year the updated land supply study has identified ‘around 175,000 units’ following work undertaken to review the capacity of brownfield land.
This indicates that there may be additional capacity for housing sites to be located on previously developed land than earlier identified. However, unless the household projections and, therefore, housing need significantly reduces, there would still need to be substantial release of land from the Green Belt to meet future requirements.
Delaying the release of the GMSF re-write allows the plan to have the most up-to-date information available, which is an appropriate step to increase the prospect of achieving a sound plan.
The ONS has indicated that household projections data will be available in two tranches, in September and later in autumn. The timing of the release of this data raises questions as to whether there will be sufficient time to update the key housing need evidence base in relation to Objectively Assessed Housing Need (OAHN) in time for an October draft GMSF. Further slippage is therefore a possibility.
Whilst the population projections indicate a slower growth, how this will affect the household projections remains unknown until later in this year. A further update will be issued when this becomes available.
 ONS, June 2018. Subnational population projections for England: 2016-based. [Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationprojections/bulletins/subnationalpopulationprojectionsforengland/2016based]
 GMCA, March 2018. ‘Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has published data revealing the land identified for future housing and employment developments’. [Available at: https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/news/article/288/greater_manchester_publishes_land_available_for_jobs_and_homes]