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Burnham appoints Salford mayor to rewrite Greater Manchester Spatial Framework

Words: Laura Edgar
Greater Manchester / Shutterstock_291683504

Greater Manchester’s new mayor Andy Burnham has appointed Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett to ‘radically rewrite’ the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF).

Burnham has appointed Dennett as the portfolio holder for housing planning and homelessness. He will lead on refocusing Manchester’s housing policy to tackle the housing crisis as well as rewriting the framework.

Dennett will also work with the newly established Greater Manchester Homelessness Action Network to develop solutions to the problem and “ensure every Greater Mancunian has a safe and stable roof over their head”.

Burnham said he would be listening to communities and overseeing a “radical rewrite” of the GMSF.

“I will keep those high ambitions for the homes and jobs we need but there will be a substantial reduction in the loss of green belt. Our plan will build the right kind of homes in the right places.”

He also issued a call to developers to work with him to “revitalise and reshape” town centres. “I want our towns to be residential centres that are fit for the future.”

Burnham said Dennett, as Salford City Mayor, “is driving the development of social and affordable homes across the city”.

“His zero-tolerance approach to poverty and commitment to making sure local people have access to decent, truly affordable homes make him the right person for this role. I’m confident he will help me deliver the homes Greater Manchester needs.”

Dennett said refocusing the Greater Manchester Housing Fund as monies are recycled will be “critical to building truly affordable housing” and meeting housing needs.

“I will continue to build on the works of the Homelessness Action Network and the recently launched Mayor’s Homelessness Fund. A home is a basic human right and any civilised society should look to meet this need, irrespective of how much money someone earns.”

Peter Tooher, who is executive director at Nexus Planning and based at its Manchester office, said the proposal to rewrite the GMSF should not come as a surprise to observers.

“The timings always seemed to point to a substantial rewrite – with the mayor being appointed in the middle of the preparation of the spatial framework and reaction to proposed green belt changes inevitable, the original timetable was always ambitious.”

It will be disappointing to those promoting green belt sites, said Tooher, but support for development from Burnham across Greater Manchester remains. “There was always going to be intense scrutiny of green belt changes.”

There is a lot to gain from recrafting the strategy, Tooher continued, “not least to place a greater emphasis on smaller towns across Greater Manchester – Stalybridge, Eccles or Leigh, for example, and the housing and jobs they can provide with the right environment and infrastructure”.

The framework should be in place as soon as possible, with a clear timetable. “Genuinely affordable housing is critically important, as is regeneration across the region.”

The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework was published in October 2016. The draft identifies sites for 227,000 homes, some on green belt land, and aims to create 200,000 jobs between now and 2035.

Green belt sites identified in the framework include ones at Pilsworth, Carrington and Ashton Moss. The draft report said releasing some green belt is “essential” to keep up with Greater Manchester’s growth.

Read more about the framework here.

Image credit | Shuttershock