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Spatial Framework Brinkmanship Leaves Greater Manchester Plan In Doubt, But The City Presses On Regardless


Seven years of drama surrounding the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework are now heading toward a cliffhanger ending.

Local councillors are playing a game of brinkmanship as they try to extract last-minute changes. Many of their concerns focus on protecting green belt land.

Stockport Council agreed to delay approving the Spatial Framework, a document intended to govern housing and commercial development in the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs until 2038.

Meanwhile Salford council delivered a blow to both the Spatial Framework and to Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett, who oversaw its preparation, by also postponing a decision pending amendments.

The Stockport problem was widely anticipated, amidst reports earlier this year that a dispute with neighbouring Tameside council was holding up ratification of the long-term economic growth plan.

The latest problem is thought to revolve around a site at High Lane intended for 500 homes, but which could now be deleted from the Spatial Framework, PlaceNorthWest reported.

The Spatial Framework, published a month ago, proposes at least 26M SF of new office floorspace and at least 44M SF of industrial and warehousing floorspace across Greater Manchester over the plan period to 2038.

It includes a new green belt boundary for Greater Manchester and cutting the green belt by 4,600 acres — a sharp reduction from that proposed in earlier versions of the plan. Overall it means the conurbation's green belt shrinks by 3.25% to help accommodate 180,000 new homes (of which 50,000 will be affordable).

The fate of the GMSF is not being allowed to delay ambitious economic development plans for the City of Manchester, due to be launched on Wednesday.

Whilst the scope of the City strategy, intended to help mitigate the impacts of two successive coronavirus lockdowns, has yet to be announced, a series of interviews and disclosures over the summer and autumn revealed the shape of the council’s thinking.

A strong emphasis on fostering tech jobs, particularly as a route to revitalising the city centrewas revealed by Bisnow over the summer.

Earlier this month those plans took on a new edge when it was disclosed that a 16-acre potential science and innovation site had been reserved as part of the North Manchester Hospital redevelopment

Science campus provision in the north of the city would match continued growth in the south of the city, particularly in the Oxford Road corridor.

The city council’s newly appointed strategic growth director, Louise Wyman, has a background in landscaping, and she has spoken warmly of pedestrianisation introduced during the early socially distanced phases of the pandemic response.

“The spaces that give a city life. Those spaces are worth investing in,” Wyman told Bisnow in September 2020. “During the pandemic the council pedestrianised 20 streets, something that would usually have taken two years but only took two months, and it is proof that there is lots we can do to make Manchester a more livable city."

Renewed emphasis on green spaces, car-free roads and parks can be expected in the City's plan.