Show everyone a map of where these non existent sites in Greater Manchester are – or the sites in Cheshire or elsewhere you wont control, Andy if you are to have any credibility at all as GM Mayor, its the first thing the inspector will ask.
Greater Manchester’s Labour mayoral candidate Andy Burnham has called for the region’s controversial green belt plans to be radically rewritten, calling them ‘unfair and disproportionate’.
The Leigh MP says councils should be aiming to avoid any net loss of green belt at all in their development blueprint for the next 20 years.
His demand is likely to cause frustration within the ‘super-council’ of ten council leaders, most of them his Labour colleagues – who have spent years drawing up the plan and are aiming to submit it to the government by the end of the year.
In his official submission to the public consultation on the plan – which is aimed at providing a framework for 227,000 new homes over the next two decades, as well as hundreds of thousands of jobs – he says it should focus far more on building affordable housing in ‘high densities’ on former industrial sites.
It comes after outcry in many parts of the region over plans to build large residential developments on green space that is currently protected, including in south Stockport and north Bury.
“As a result, it could diminish quality of life in some communities and restrict people’s access to good air and green space. The plan needs to be rebalanced to respond to these concerns and demonstrate a commitment to sustainable development.”
He adds: “I would go further and propose that we consider the aim of no net loss of green belt.”
The plan should instead focus more on the region’s existing town centres, he says, rather than building onto green belt.
Greater Manchester’s larger towns should be redrawn as attractive places to live, he adds – with empty shops making way for new homes.
He also believes the masterplan focuses too much on warehousing and industrial development, rather than hi-tech industries such as health and technology.
But it is on green belt that his view will cause most concern among council colleagues, who believe Greater Manchester cannot absorb a growing population without redrawing some areas that are currently protected.
Mr Burnham’s statement represents a huge political headache for the mainly Labour council leaders alongside whom he would be running the region should he get elected in May.
Under the rules of Greater Manchester’s devolution deal, the masterplan has to be agreed not only by the mayor but all ten council leaders – and the region legally needs a planning framework in order to control where developers build in the future.
It also needs to be passed by all ten councils. Stockport councillors in particular are currently looking unlikely to approve it.
On the current timetable it is supposed to be signed off in its initial form over the summer before going out to consultation again in the autumn.
After that, it will be submitted to the government for a public hearing and a final decision