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Greater Manchester leaders order ministers to clarify housing need standard

Words: Huw Morris
Greater Manchester / Shutterstock_291683504

Greater Manchester’s spatial framework faces fresh delays and further rewrites after latest government household projections disrupted the standard method for calculating housing need.

Household projections unveiled by the Office for National Statistics in September predicted a 24 per cent fall in anticipated growth on previous figures.

When the government published the National Planning Policy Framework in July, it said it would consider adjusting the method when the projections were published in the autumn to meet its 300,000 homes-a-year target.

Now Greater Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham and its 10 council leaders are demanding that ministers urgently clarify and publish the housing need methodology to determine the number of homes the city region would be required to build.

The leadership accused the government of “moving the goalposts and making this process more difficult”, and warned that the framework cannot proceed until the methodology is published.

“We have made real progress towards agreeing a rewritten Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, but this uncertainty around the housing figures is delaying our final decisions and compromising our ability to get on with strategic planning in Greater Manchester,” they said, warning that the revised methodology would only be a consultation rather than the finalised formula for assessing local housing need.

“We are clear that the government must not fiddle the methodology to inflate the housing numbers just to meet its own artificial target. We also note that this revised methodology is set to come forward just months after the government’s last consultation to assess local housing need. This is a far cry from the honest, open, consistent approach that we were promised.

“Greater Manchester needs to know that the spatial framework is a plan fit for the future and this can only be the case if we get the clarity we need before the plan is finalised. That is why we have all agreed that we will wait, yet again, for the government methodology, then move quickly to revise and agree our plan, before taking it out to public consultation."

The 10 leaders maintain that the draft framework must be agreed by each and every council in the city region next summer before a third round of formal consultation gets under way.

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