THE leaders of Greater Manchester’s combined authority (GMCA) have agreed to seek further engagement with the public to develop a third draft of its proposed new spatial framework.
The Plan for Homes, Jobs & the Environment, which was recently put out for consultation, remains the best proposal for the city region’s housing and infrastructure, say its constituent local authorities, but it has also announced there will be further public engagement into the New Year with formal consultation for later in 2020.
According to the GMCA, this will allow a period of “deeper engagement with local communities and other stakeholders in light of the number of detailed and considered public responses received during consultation earlier this year”.
The spatial framework (GMSF), lays the foundations for proposals to deliver housing in Greater Manchester, growing the local economy and creating jobs, protecting the environment and delivering integrated transport to ensure the city-region continues to develop and thrive.
Development also features heavily as part of Greater Manchester’s environmental plans, with the recently-published Housing Strategy and the combined authority’s Five Year Environment Plan committing every new build in the city-region to being zero carbon by 2028, and the entire city-region to be carbon neutral by 2038, 12 years ahead of the national target.
The GMSF was originally published in 2016, followed by a redrafted second proposal, which was followed by a public consultation that closed in March of this year. Around 17,500 responses were received, the GMCA says, providing over 60,000 separate comments. However, this was a “significantly lower” figure than those supplied during the 2017 consultation period which followed the initial draft’s publication.
Even so, the GMCA says this renewed public engagement with its redrafted plan has demonstrated that real concerns still exist in many Greater Manchester communities.
“Having a clear plan is vital if we are to avoid a future where developers get the pick of the prime sites across Greater Manchester with no joined-up strategy to combat the possibility,” said Salford mayor Paul Dennett, who serves as the GMCA’s lead on housing, homelessness and infrastructure.
“I am confident the second, redrafted spatial framework was a significant improvement on the first, with proposals for building on Green Belt reduced by more than 50%. However, from the large number of responses we’ve received there obviously remain real concerns in many communities. We received 27,000 responses to the first draft and fewer than 18,000 this time but it remains important that we consider all feedback properly and factor it into the next redraft.
“When the revised proposals are presented for a further round of consultation next summer they will better represent what we all want – a comprehensive proposal for the homes, jobs and supporting environment we all need now and in the future.”
The GMCA says the planned engagement work will include ongoing and productive discussions with local communities and a wide variety of voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations, Green Belt campaign groups and developers, with more work being undertaken to develop transport proposals, including site investigations and viability assessments.