Shock reduction of proposed new Greater Manchester Green Belt
On 9th March 2023, the Greater Manchester Combined Authorities (GMCA) announced it will no longer support a total 49 sites to achieve Green Belt status. Instead, 32 of these will be proposed for release.
This shock u-turn announcement was during the Examination of the Greater Manchester ‘Places for Everyone’ joint development plan. Jackie Copley, CPRE Lancashire’s planning director, attended the Examination.
Reduction of proposed new Green Belt
At the hearing session, Christopher Katowski KC announced the GMCA were no longer supporting the inclusion of 49 additional Green Belt sites. GMCA raised the legal point arising from the legal ruling from Solihull v Gallagher, 2014. Instead, GMCA will support 17 sites. This means 32 sites, totalling 521.5 hectares, will not be supported for addition to Green Belt. That is not an insignificant amount of land. In fact, it equates to 20% of the 2,661 hectares of land proposed for release.
Weakening of brownfield regeneration
GMCA originally had a brownfield preference focus, but throughout the examination, through proposed modifications there has been a weakening of these policies and a move towards making reasoned justifications for developing on Green Belt. One of the five purposes of Green Belt is to encourage brownfield regeneration, so any reduction in the scale of Green Belt harms brownfield aims.
What is the Greater Manchester ‘Places for Everyone’ Joint Development Plan?
Each local authority around the country has a local plan, which sets out policies for future development of everything from housing to public transport, businesses to nature and environment. In Greater Manchester, however, nine districts have teamed up to produce a single long-term plan called the Places for Everyone plan. These nine districts are Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Tameside, Trafford, and Wigan. The public can view more information about the plan at the GMCA Places for Everyone page.
The Greater Manchester Green Belt vision
According to the Places for Everyone website, the plan sought to define a new green belt boundary for Greater Manchester. CPRE Lancashire object to this u-turn in the number of supported sites and will continue to campaign for Green Belt protection, and for sustainable planning where the emphasis is on brownfield regeneration and access to countryside and green space for Greater Manchester’s residents. The website Save Greater Manchester’s Green Belt gives more detail on some of the existing Green Belt in Greater Manchester which is at risk from development, and lists some of the communities who have begun working together to protect their local Green Belt.