Last week was the regular meeting between the Mayor of Greater Manchester (Andy Burnham) and representatives of Liberal Democrat Council Groups across Greater Manchester. Our group leader in Bury, Councillor Tim Pickstone, was at the meeting.
Greater Manchester Spatial Framework
Residents may have read in the local press that the major ‘Greater Manchester Spatial Framework’ is likely to be delayed again.
GMSF is the Greater Manchester plan for housing, infrastructure and other land use for the next 20 years. The second version of the proposals was due to be published in October 2018, for another stage of public consultation, but this is now having to be delayed.
The reason is new population figure estimates nationally which, on the face of it, show that Greater Manchester needs significantly less houses in the future than previously thought. (The original plan had 227,000 new houses required over the next 20 years, the new figures suggest more like 155,000. HOWEVER, Greater Manchester waiting for the Government to publish a ‘formula’ to interpret the figures, and it may be that this future is pushed back up again.
This seems like good news. Greater Manchester has enough ‘brownfield’ sites to build over 190,000 new homes without touching any of our precious green belt land. If this was to happen then Manchester and Salford was be taking slightly than their ‘fair share’ of new houses, but feels sensible for the more urban and central areas of the region.
The other big demand on land is for ’employment land’ to make sure that there are places for everyone to work. I the north of Greater Manchester, including Bury, there are calls for more employment land which may or may not be on current green belt land.
Prior to his election, Andy Burnham promised ‘no net loss of green belt’, if he was elected. It will be interesting to see if he can stick to that promise. In Bury it will be interesting to see what our Council does with its plans and whether it still pushes ahead with a loss of green belt for new houses and/or employment land.
Trains and Regional Development
We asked the Mayor about how we can tackle the ‘summer of chaos’ on our regions railways, but crucially about future investment in our rail infrastructure. Big decisions are imminent on the Manchester to Leeds rail electrification, which is a really important next step to giving the north of England the good rail connections we need. We also asked about progress on High Speed 2 to Manchester and again there are worrying indications from Government about wanting to reduce costs and whether it is willing to provide us with the the High Speed 2 infrastructure we need in Greater Manchester (which is what London is getting!)
We also spoke to the Mayor about some of the pressures on our local hospital services, all of which are experiencing to a greater or lesser extent problems with capacity and finances.
We also spoke about how we can make sure that the decision making bodies in Greater Manchester are politically representative of everyone in Greater Manchester, and in particular spoke about how decision making bodies for the fire and police are being brought together
Please let us know if there are issues you would like us to raise at future meetings.