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Five Things You Must Know About Greater Manchester's New Spatial Framework

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham

The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, revised after the 2016 consultation draft met with public anger and a pledge to limit green belt development from Metro Mayor Andy Burnham, is now out for consultation.

It comes after 18 months of delays and hesitations which suggest how difficult it has been to reach a compromise.

What does the plan offer, and what could go wrong? The document runs to 1,134 pages, so to save everyone's time here is the Bisnow rundown of the five big takeaways.

1. Green Belt Take Is Down But Not Out

A presumption in favour of brownfield development, and a pruning of the list of development sites, means Burnham has succeeded in reducing by about half the amount of green belt land needed for development. The current plan envisages about 5,800 acres of green belt development.

The Greater Manchester Green Belt currently accounts for 47% of Greater
Manchester’s overall land area. The new proposals would result in a Green Belt covering 45% of Greater Manchester.

What residents may not like is that the green belt release will open the way to new logistics and warehousing. Much of the rest is for housing: a minimum of 201,000 net additional dwellings will be delivered in Greater Manchester over the period 2018-2037, or an annual average of around 10,580. There will be at least 50,000 new affordable homes in the planned period to 2038.

2. Five Targets, Eight Sites

The plan identifies five target sectors for high-growth clusters, and eight sites where big things are expected of these sectors.

The five target business sectors are advanced manufacturing; business, financial and professional services; digital; health innovation; and logistics.

The eight sites are the city centre (expanded south along the Oxford Road), Salford Quays; the Eastlands-to-Trafford Park corridor; Manchester Airport; the eight main town centres (Altrincham, Ashton-under-Lyne, Bolton, Bury,
Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport and Wigan); Peel's Port Salford with its logistics potential; the Northern Gateway M62 North East Corridor; and the M6 logistics hub in Wigan and along the M58.

3. Lots Of New Office Development

At least 26.5M SF of new office floorspace will be provided in Greater Manchester over the period 2018-2037, with a focus on the city centre (where 19M SF is anticipated), Salford Quays (5.2M SF), the airport and town centres of which Trafford (3M SF) is the largest. Councils have already identified 32M SF of opportunities, so sites should not be an issue.


4. Warehouses Galore

At least 45M SF of new industrial and warehousing floorspace will be provided in
Greater Manchester over the period 2018-2037. Councils have already found sites for 28M SF which means new sites will have to be found for 17M SF. No surprise that M6/M62 motorway locations in Bolton, Rochdale and Wigan are in the cross-hairs with Rochdale's Pilsworth/Northern Gateway sites allocated a total of 11M SF of new development.

5. But Nothing Is Certain

The boring but important fact is that the planning law needed for a full regional spatial framework does not yet exist. Greater Manchester is therefore proceeding under existing laws which mean all 10 local councils can prepare a joint plan. The result is that unlike the London Plan, Greater Manchester's needs a vote of approval from all 10 local councils. The 10 council leaders are, to varying degrees, behind the plan: what their backbenchers think is another matter. Getting past the hurdle of 10 successful votes should not be taken for granted.

The other consequence is that there will be lots more consultations. So set your clocks for another consultation in summer 2019.

The current spring 2019 consultation begins on 21 January and ends 18 March. More changes may follow.

The final plan will be submitted for examination in early 2020 and adopted late
2020/early 2021.