20th October 2016
Why the Draft Spatial Framework means major change for Greater Manchester
The ten local authorities forming the Greater Manchester Combined Authority are set to publish the draft version of their Spatial Framework (GMSF) for consultation at the end of October, with the GMCA Executive Committee considering the draft version of their Spatial Framework (GMSF) for consultation on the 28th October. With a new Mayor to be elected in May 2017, this represents an important moment in local governance for the city.
Originating from the devolution deal negotiated by Sir Richard Leese with George Osborne, this is also a significant moment for the Manchester city region, representing the first city region-wide plan to be published outside of London. With more cities on a similar road to devolution, it looks set to be the first of many such plans in this emerging new tier of planning policy dealing with strategic transport and land use infrastructure over the next 20 years.
This expression of confidence can also be found in the draft GMSF itself. The scale of ambition and growth represented by its vision and policies should not be underestimated. Far more than a co-ordination of existing local authority proposals, the GMSF instead represents a step-change in ambition for the city-region and the role it can play in the UK economy. It will help enable part of the Northern Powerhouse, with Greater Manchester as a major player, influencing the economic direction of the northern region.
Housebuilders and developers may have lobbied for higher economic projections but the scale of growth envisaged remains significant, and challenging to deliver. The number of new homes planned for the next 20 years is 227,000, alongside 200,000 new jobs, which is the equivalent of adding an additional satellite town with more than twice the population of Oldham. This may be ambitious but it is based on robust economic projections. It represents the full opportunity that can and should be grasped and will help remodel the city as an efficient, prosperous and world class economy, leading in key emerging sectors which will define the 21st century.
With this level of growth forecast, the key challenge will be in finding the sites to accommodate such a substantial number of new homes. Increased densities and brownfield sites are an important part of the plan, and brownfield sites are still seen as important land portfolio to deliver new homes. However, the scale of new housing required means that this cannot represent the whole solution and draft plan allocates 55,000 (nearly 25%) of the housing to be delivered through Green Belt release. This has meant that a major review has been undertaken of the Greater Manchester Green Belt, to inform the release of greenfield land for housing.
Alongside these new houses will be the infrastructure needed to support them, and the Framework has planned for new transport connections, green spaces and local facilities, all of which represent opportunities in themselves. The great challenge will be to ensure that any supporting infrastructure is delivered and committed early to ensure that these ambitious growth plans can be realised in a well managed and phased manner.
Housebuilders will now be very keen to see where these brownfield and greenfield sites are located, and to consider how they can work with the Combined Authority to deliver their ambitious aspirations. Commenting on the draft GMSF should be the next step in a collaborative process to produce a deliverable plan. As citizens of Greater Manchester, we should all be clear that, unlike many local authority Local Plans, the GMSF heralds major positive change for the conurbation for the next 20 years.
For further information or an informal discussion on how we can help you make the best of this opportunity, please contact Paul Shuker (Planning) or Amjid Khan (Transport Planning) on 0161 872 3223 or by emailing Paul or Amjid.