The consultation for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework is underway, and the closing date has now been extended to 16th January.
We encourage you to have your say by emailing GMSF@agma.gov.uk – below you will find the response made by the Stockport Council Liberal Democrat Group.
Stockport Liberal Democrats believe the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) process is not right for Stockport and have already formally called for the borough to withdraw from the GMSF and to focus on developing its own Local Plan instead, taking into account the concerns with GMSF that we have raised.
As the Labour and Conservative Groups on Stockport Council blocked our attempt at the Council Meeting on 1st December 2016, we submit below our constructive response to the current consultation on the basis that we would prefer that Stockport plays no further part in GMSF.
We believe that:
- The scale and location of the Greenbelt release in Stockport and the scale of development on those sites in the proposed GMSF is completely inappropriate.
- Stockport is being targeted by developers due to its popularity and too large a share of the housing across the conurbation is proposed here. Fully 20% of the potential sites identified in the “call for sites” earlier this year are in Stockport. The GMSF allows for a potential 12,000 new houses to be built on Greenbelt in our Borough.
- Developers will target building larger properties in current Greenbelt areas first rather than tackle the remediation issues of Brownfield sites.
- The growth targets for Greater Manchester are too high and result in too much proposed development. Attempting to identify a 20-year land supply for housing is too much – too many things may change during this time. A 15-year land supply would avoid most of the proposed Greenbelt release and give time for alternatives to be developed.
- There are parts of Greater Manchester – in the centre of the larger towns in particular – where higher density housing may be appropriate and would allow a revised GMSF to reduce the pressure on the Greenbelt.
Unlocking Brownfield Sites
We need a firm commitment to infrastructure with a detailed plan and sufficient money identified to support it prior to any significant additional building being possible across the Borough. Vague promises are not sufficient.
We believe the significant numbers of Brownfield sites should be built on and exhausted before any of the Greenbelt is built on.
More work needs to be done on ways to unlock Brownfield sites, such as funding being secured to handle sites needing decontamination or old mills that can be expensive to convert.
While the development cost is higher for these sites than on Greenfield, the overall cost may not be much different, as far more of the infrastructure is already in place.
Among the so-called “opportunity sites”, the “High Lane” site sits inside already heavily congested infrastructure and would see the merger of south Marple with north High Lane conurbations, violating one of the original reasons for having Greenbelt.
The “Land off A34” and “Heald Green” (both neighbouring Cheadle Hulme) would see massive overdevelopment alongside Cheshire East’s proposed “growth village” on already overstretched A34, which will not be alleviated to the extent needed by the A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road.
The “Woodford” site shares the same general infrastructure as the sites above. The new development currently in progress alongside the GMSF proposal would see the existing village completely dominated by new housing.
When taken together with Cheshire East’s plans the proposals for Heald Green, Cheadle Hulme and Woodford create a huge, contiguous area of thousands of new houses. There is currently no plan to deal with the additional journeys the developments around the A34 would generate, and there is not even any idea of what such a plan might look like.
The need in Stockport is for a mixture of housing types and tenures. Our concern is that, developers will naturally seek to provide larger, more expensive properties for sale on the current Greenbelt. There is a great need for affordable housing (both to buy, part-buy and to rent) and social housing, particularly for smaller families as well as for single people and couples.
Stockport Liberal Democrat Group do not agree with the approach taken by the GM Spatial Framework.
We believe the Greenbelt release proposed is unacceptable. We do not accept the growth assumptions made nor do we agree with trying to identify a 20-year land supply.
We are concerned not enough will be done to unlock Brownfield sites or to ensure the correct housing mix is delivered in our Borough.
For these reasons we continue to call for Stockport to withdraw from this Spatial Framework and to pursue instead our own Local Plan.