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CPRE questions Greater Manchester mayoral candidates on their plans for reusing brownfield land in advance of ‘needless’ Green Belt loss

Thursday, 27 April 2017 17:14

Candidates left to right: Sean Anstee (Conservative), Jane Brophy (Liberal Democrat), Andy Burnham (Labour), Marcus Farmer (Independent), Stephen Morris (English Democrat), Shneur Odze (UKIP), Will Patterson (Green) Candidates left to right: Sean Anstee (Conservative), Jane Brophy (Liberal Democrat), Andy Burnham (Labour), Marcus Farmer (Independent), Stephen Morris (English Democrat), Shneur Odze (UKIP), Will Patterson (Green) Photo: © Jackie Copley

On 26 April, CPRE Lancashire participated in the second Greater Manchester mayoral debate held by BBC Radio Manchester and hosted by Allan Beswick focused on housing and transport issues.

Jackie Copley CPRE Planning Manager asked the eight candidates, “How will you use your Mayoral powers to ensure that the significant vacant brownfield sites across Greater Manchester are used in advance of preventable Green Belt loss?”

Those candidates who answered ranged from suggesting:

  • Ripping up the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) in entirety due to the high level of opposition (of 25,000 response received, 93% relate to objection to proposals for Green Belt loss) and starting from scratch (Jane Brophy, Shneur Odze);
  • A major rewrite of the GMSF to stop the substantial Green Belt loss, urban sprawl and urban decay to rebalance it in line with public opinion and focus on more brownfield land thereby revitalising town centres, and delivering affordable flats for younger people (Andy Burnham); and
  • Acceptance of major Green Belt development, caveated that the GMSF numbers needed reconsideration, and that enough infrastructure funding and new powers to set up a Mayoral Development
    Corporation such as Compulsory Purchase Powers could be used (Sean Anstee and Marcus Farmer).

During the debate James Stevens, House Builders Federation, lobbied for Green Belt loss. Stevens claimed young people in London are relocating to Manchester for affordable housing, however Steve Longden, Save Greater Manchester Green Belt, argued housing built in the Green Belt is far from affordable, and said house builders focus development on land holdings in the countryside simply to increase their profits.

CPRE believes future strategic planning, development and infrastructure investment decisions should be plan led. CPRE in its response to the Draft GMSF gave expert evidence that the figures are flawed and need to be reduced. CPRE supports the right scale, and type, of development being focused first on the significant brownfield sites in existing urban places to stop urban sprawl, protect beloved countryside and importantly to revitalise existing urban centres. Green Belt should not be easily sacrificed. Once it has gone, it has gone forever.

The Greater Manchester Mayoral Husting on Transport & Housing can be heard on Special DAB + online until 26 May 2017.

CPRE also participated in a Green Belt Rally on the 1 April 2017 in which more than two thousand people, representing thirty or so Green Belt groups, convened on Albert Square outside Manchester Town Hall, to show the public opposition to the proposals to release 4,990 hectares of Green Belt land for new development, as part of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework. 

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