Loading...

More than 56,000 new homes for Manchester - but what about the green land being lost?

Manchester city council has become the final council to back proposals to build at least 56,500 new homes in the city as part of a regional jobs and housing masterplan.

Places for Everyone, the successor to the much-maligned Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF), maps out what land will be freed up for development up to 2037.

Stockport is the only local authority not involved with the process after the majority of councillors voted to withdraw from the GMSF last year.

Sign up to our ManchesterWorld Today newsletter

What are the concerns over green belt land?

Much of the controversy relates to building on the green belt, which has been cut back by 60 per cent in the latest plans, although huge swathes of it are still earmarked for development.

Political figures including Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester council, have insisted that the plan will protect green belt land from ‘speculative’ developments by housebuilders.

Manchester’s role in the masterplan will be to use its large brownfield land supply to absorb housing demand from neighbouring boroughs with more green belt.

Out of the 165,000 new homes needed in Greater Manchester to meet government housing targets, a third will be built in Manchester – with 35,000 in the city centre.

A further 2.2 million square metres of office floorspace will be provided in the city centre, while expansions to Manchester Airport’s logistics operations are proposed.

A public consultation on Places for Everyone closed on October 3, and this week Manchester councillors approved the submission of a draft blueprint for examination by the government in early 2022.

Is anyone not in favour?

But the vote did encounter opposition from Liberal Democrat councillor John Leech, who has previously raised concerns about the GMSF, and Green Party councillor Rob Nunney.

Coun Leech said that Greater Manchester authorities needed more than the £81m from the government to remediate former industrial sites.

A report to the council raises the same concern, saying that while the funding ‘begins to address viability issues it is not enough to enable the full potential of our brownfield land supply to be realised’.

Coun Leech said: “The reality is that there’s going to enormous pressure on green sites that are classed as brownfield sites because there simply isn’t enough money coming in to deal with the contaminated land in parts of the city

“Sites are coming under increasing pressure of huge overdevelopment of single plots that are green spaces but are brownfield sites, and that’s why I’m not prepared to support this.”

How does the airport fit in with all this?

Sir Richard Leese was asked by Coun Nunney if he supported plans within Places for Everyone to double passenger numbers at Manchester Airport.

Coun Nunney said this would be ‘completely unsustainable’, and asked how the expansion of the airport’s might affect the council’s ambitions to be carbon neutral by 2038.

The councillor also made reference to the fact that Manchester has spent a quarter of its ‘carbon budget’, a cap on harmful emissions which should not exceed 15 million tonnes by the end of the century, within two years.

In response Coun Leese said that Manchester Airport has been ‘operationally’ net zero since 2013 and would continue to become more environmentally friendly, but agreed with Coun Nunney that technology that would help with his has yet to be discovered.

The outgoing council leader added: “The airport is an important part of our economy for it to continue to grow means it will continue to provide employment directly but also indirectly.

“We have hard evidence that every time we introduce a new route to an international destination it leads to increased trade and that leads to increased jobs

“If the airport had been operating pre-covid levels this year, in which we’ve had to make £40m in cuts, we wouldn’t have had to make any cut because the income from the airport would have allowed us to have some growth.”