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Greater Manchester targets 50,000 affordable homes

Words: Laura Edgar

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is planning to deliver 50,000 affordable homes by targeting brownfield land.

The target, which consists of 30,000 designated as social housing, forms a key part of the revised draft of the Great Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF). In total, leaders hope to deliver a lowered target of 201,000 homes.

Launched at an event today (7 January) by Mayor Andy Burnham, Deputy Mayors Sir Richard Leese and Bev Hughes, and the leaders of the region’s councils, it focuses on making the most of Greater Manchester’s brownfield sites. It also prioritises redevelopment of town centres.

The original GMSF, published in 2016, identified sites for 227,00 homes and create 20,000 jobs by 2035. A number of green belt sites were allocated in the framework in order to deliver the houses, including land at Pilsworth, Carrington, Cheadle Hulme and Ashton Moss.

The revised draft, though, cuts its reliance on green belt land by more than half, and illustrates a drive to protect the existing green belt where possible and to provide stronger protection for important environmental assets.

Burnham will work with Stockport Council to consult on bringing forward a Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC) for the town, using the powers devolved to him through the city deal. He said the shift towards redeveloping towns not only “breathes new life” into them but also relieves pressure on the green belt.

The GMSF also outlines that the councils across the region will not support fracking as it seeks to become carbon-neutral.

Burnham said: “When we consulted people on the first spatial framework, the public were clear that we hadn’t got the balance right. We listened, reflected, and can now present a radical rewrite as promised. It also lays the foundations for radical reform in other policy areas such as housing, the environment and transport.

“Together, we are harnessing the full power of the most advanced devolution deal of any city-region in England for the benefit of our three million residents. And we are putting together the pieces of the jigsaw to reveal the big picture – a Greater Manchester where prosperity, opportunity, health, hope and happiness are widely and fairly shared across all our people and places.”

In 2017, Burham appointed Paul Dennett, the Mayor of Salford, to rewrite the GMSF, but the process was fraught with delays. It was initially due to be published in June 2018, then October 2018, but issues with the government’s household projections disrupted the standard method for calculating housing need.

The leaders also launched the Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040. More than 65 projects are set to be completed within the next five years, including Metrolink’s Trafford Park Line, buying 27 new trams and a new walking and cycling infrastructure across all 10 districts. It is hoped that by 2040 that half of all daily trips in Greater Manchester will be made by public transport, cycling and walking, especially shorter journeys around local neighbourhoods.  

Both the GMSF and the transport strategy can be found on the GMCA website.


Jonathan Harper, senior associate in the planning team at Rapleys (Manchester office), said when compared to the 2016 document, the rewrite does represent a significant change in approach from the combined authority.

“Alongside the scaled-back green belt release, housing targets have been decreased, which is likely to be viewed negatively by the development community and advocates of growth for the city region.

“Furthermore, there is still significant green belt release proposed, which runs contrary to Andy Burnham’s previous pledge, at the point he was elected as mayor, for the spatial framework to result in ‘no net loss’ of green belt.

“In this regard the spatial framework will clearly divide opinion but a document of its nature will never please everyone concerned and it is an important step in the right direction that the plan is being published for consultation.”

Harper added that the delays have hindered the ability of investors to make decisions on development proposals in the region and hopefully, momentum is now behind the new plan, which will get it over the line and provide certainty.

Dan Mitchell, partner at planning Barton Willmore, said: “Despite a reduction in the housing target, there’s no doubt that supply of land and density will continue to be hotly debated now that there is an even greater emphasis on town centres and brownfield land delivering housing and employment growth – take the Stockport MDC Area, for example.

“Now that the framework is back on its feet, we hope that pace will not unravel as we move closer to local elections this May. Two years in the making, Greater Manchester now needs a commitment to its vision to support economic growth in the region.”

Read more:

A 227,000-home plan for Greater Manchester

Burnham appoints Salford mayor to rewrite Greater Manchester Spatial Framework

Greater Manchester Spatial Framework timetable published

Spatial framework for Greater Manchester delayed

Greater Manchester leaders order ministers to clarify housing need standard

Greater Manchester outlines timetable for framework consultation

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