Places for Everyone: campaigners ready to fight controversial plans for 165,000 homes in Greater Manchester

Public hearings, which hundreds of campaigners have been invited to attend, will be held over five months.

A major masterplan setting out where 165,000 homes will be built across Greater Manchester over the next 15 years is a step closer to completion.

The Places for Everyone plan – the city-region’s strategy for housing, jobs and the environment until 2037 – will undergo a public examination later this year.

Public hearings, which hundreds of campaigners have been invited to attend, will be held over five months starting from November, to scrutinise the plan.

The document has been repeatedly revised since its inception as the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) with the latest delay triggered by Stockport’s decision to pull out at the eleventh hour in December 2020.

The renamed plan, which was submitted to the government earlier this year, now concerns the remaining nine boroughs – Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan.

Up to 165,000 new homes could be built under Places for Everyone Credit: GMCA

More than 15,000 comments were received in the latest public consultation on the controversial masterplan which features fewer homes than before.

Some proposed developments in the previous plans have been scaled down while others have been removed, resulting in a 60 pc reduction in green belt land which would be built on compared with the first GMSF published in 2016.

However, opponents still argue that no green belt land should be built on at all.

In total, 50,000 of the 165,000 homes now planned as part of Places for Everyone would be affordable with 30,000 of them to be social housing.

More than 55m sq ft of office, industrial and warehousing space is also proposed across the nine boroughs – including some on green belt land.

Architects of the plan say it is the most effective way of building good, new, affordable, net-zero homes and protecting green spaces in the city-region.

But campaign groups say that the plan will exacerbate Greater Manchester’s affordable housing crisis and compromise its carbon neutral commitments.

Representatives of Save Greater Manchester’s Green Belt Group and Steady State Manchester have also said that the plan relies on ‘flawed assessments’.

Mortgage affordability rules changed in August 2022 (image: Getty Images)

They said: “Whilst we fully support the concept of a regional plan, we have real concerns about the unnecessary release of 2,430 hectares of green belt for development in unsustainable locations across Greater Manchester.

“This will lead to huge increases in air, noise and light pollution, but also, critically, in carbon emissions.

“We welcome the opportunity to raise our concerns at the upcoming hearings.

“We believe that the plan, which relies on flawed assessments, will exacerbate the escalating homelessness and affordability crisis in Greater Manchester and will compromise the region’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2038.

“It is essential that Greater Manchester builds the right type of homes in the right places if the plan is to truly live up to its name, ‘Places for Everyone’!”

What is the timescale?

Beginning on November 1, a series of hearings will take place in which planning inspectors appointed by the Secretary of State will test whether the plan is sound and legally compliant.

This means the government-appointed inspectors have to be satisfied that the plan is positively prepared, justified, effective, and consistent with national policy, and that it meets legal requirements including the duty to cooperate.

The sessions will also hear representations from individuals, community groups and organisations who submitted comments during the consultation on the publication plan in 2021.

Almost 200 requests were made to participate in the hearings, and around 25 participants have been invited to attend each session.

Members of the public can also attend and observe proceedings in person, but only invited participants will be able to take part in the hearings.

The hearings will be held in blocks of two or three weeks and are expected to run until the end of March 2023.

Salford mayor Paul Dennett Credit: Shutterstock

Salford mayor Paul Dennett, who is Greater Manchester’s lead for Places for Everyone, said: “This public examination is an important stage in the process of bringing forward our Places for Everyone plan, which we believe will enable us to deliver the kind of positive, sustainable growth that we need to see in Greater Manchester.

“Over the next few months people will be able to follow every stage of these hearings, as our plan and the supporting evidence are subject to close examination by Government inspectors and the people and organisations who have been invited to participate.

“We see Places for Everyone as the most effective plan to build good, affordable, net-zero homes, to support industrial innovation and good jobs, to protect and enhance our green spaces, and generate inward investment into our city-region. It will enable us to continue delivering on our brownfield-first approach to development and meeting our housing targets, with support from the Government’s Brownfield Housing Fund.

“As we move forward, it’s vital that the Government continues to work with us to address these viability issues and deliver the types and tenures of housing that Greater Manchester needs. Never has this been more important than now, when the intersecting crises of housing, inflation, and rising fuel bills present real challenges for families and communities throughout our city-region.”

  • Capacity at the public hearings will be limited, and people are advised to contact the programme officers, who have organised the sessions, by email at [email protected] to check availability of places before attending.

All sessions will be streamed live online, and will also be made available on the GMCA website.

For more information about Places for Everyone, visit the website here.