Places for Everyone – new GM plan for housing

Greater Manchester’s new plans for housing development is back, with a new name of ‘Places for Everyone’. 

People may remember that the previous plans, called GMSF (Greater Manchester Spatial Framework) were abandoned last year when Stockport pulled out of the plans. Now the remanning nine Councils (including Bury) are pushing ahead with a joint plan, now called ‘Places for Everyone’. 

On the face of it the PfE plan is very similar to the 2020 GMSF plan, especially the detail for our area. The plan proposes land for 165,000 more houses across Greater Manchester in the next 15 years. (To put that in context the whole of Bury added together currently has 77,000 houses.)

The four big impacts for Bury are: 
Prestwich/Simister/Bowlee – space for 1,550 new houses on what is now ‘green belt’ (it is farmland) to the north of Heaton Park (between Simister and Middleton). Plans include a new primary school.
– a major area of employment/industrial development to the north of the M62 between Prestwich/Whitefield and Middleton/Heywood. Essentially this is a large area on the north side of the M62 from Simister island to the Heywood/Middleton junction on the M62. Half is in Bury, half in Rochdale. This will provide space for 1.2million square metres of industrial and warehousing build, and 1,000 houses on the Rochdale side.
– 3,500 new houses near Radcliffe on existing green belt land (large area of countryside around around Elton Reservoir)
1,400 new houses near Walshaw on existing green belt land.

The attempt to mitigate the large loss of green belt land across Greater Manchester, this plan does create some new bits of green belt. Interestingly, in Bury, these are 14 small areas of ‘new’ green belt, most of which are in Ramsbottom and none in the south of the borough (Prestwich or Whitefield).

Why will the Liberal Democrats be voting against Places for Everyone?
Our view hasn’t changed. At every stage of the GMSF, and now under it’s new name of Places for Everyone, this is the wrong plan at the wrong time and we will do whatever we can to stop it.

It is still the wrong plan
Places for Everyone remains the wrong plan because it builds on our precious green belt land. Despite massive public opposition, Greater Manchester’s Labour-run Councils seem determined to build on green belt land. 

Bury’s Liberal Democrat Councillors recognise that we will need more homes in the Borough, and we want to build the high quality, affordable and energy efficient homes that people need, but not at the expense of losing our precious green spaces. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, residents have been using our great outdoors for exercise and for good mental health. The last 18 months have told us that we need our open spaces more than ever.

Our precious Green Belt land must be protected with development restricted to existing sites, brownfield land (which there is no shortage of in Greater Manchester), and by breathing life back into our struggling town centres.

It is also the wrong plan because of the failure around infrastructure. Nobody has effectively answered questions about infrastructure and capacity for the Bury area. 5,000 new houses in Radcliffe and Walshaw is an awful lot more cars on the road, and a lot more people the Metrolink than now. Although there are plans for new tram lines and new roads in some parts of Greater Manchester, none of these improve either the Bury-Manchester tram line, or the A56 in Bury/Radclfife/Whitefield or Prestwich, so it is unclear how 5,000 houses worth of commuters are going to fit on the road or tram without causing even more congestion and even more air pollution.

It is till the wrong time
Just like the GMSF, Places for Everyone’s housing need numbers are still based on 2014 data and projections.  Anyone can see that projections made in 2014 should be confined to history. We are now in a huge economic downturn as a result of Covid-19 pandemic and we face the very uncertain future around trade and jobs after Brexit. Places for Everyone is out of date before it even written never mind published.

Places for Everyone is also already based on an outdated process.  The Government’s White Paper ‘Planning for the Future’ sets out the new way that local plans will be drawn up and new ways that housing numbers will be calculated. Almost as soon as the plan is completed we’ll probably have to start again under the new process.

The new development sites in Bury are in red above. The full plan can be viewed here.

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