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Burnham blames green belt building plans on government.


ANDY Burnham has blamed ministers who he claims have forced him to earmark scores of green belt sites for development over the next 20 years, falling short of a key aspiration outlined in his campaign.

Launching the new version of Greater Manchester's spatial framework - the region's planning blueprint for the coming decades - the mayor said it was now 'radically' different to the original document released to uproar in 2016, but admitted it would not see the 'no net loss' of green belt he had hoped.

The amount of green belt now proposed for development had nonetheless been halved, he said, calling that a 'radical' change.

However he claimed that if ministers had allowed councils to plan using the latest official population forecasts, he could have reduced that even more.

The new strategy - published on Sunday night - lists more than 50 major development sites across the region, with more high-density town centre housing but many developments still earmarked for green belt.

However, the total amount of green belt under threat has been halved from around 8 per cent to 4pc.

It also promises that a quarter of the total 201,000 homes proposed will be 'affordable', most of them social housing.

Arguing that finding the balance between economic growth and protecting green space was 'easier said than done', Mr Burnham said: "When we consulted on the first GMSF, the public sent us back a pretty clear message that we hadn't found the right balance.

"We listened, reflected and today present a radical re-write as promised."

He said the new version was driven by a 'different, more interventionist approach' that was no longer developer-led.

But he said there would have been no green belt development in it at all were it not for government.

In the autumn ministers had told councils to continue planning using old population estimates, despite the Office for National Statistics having published new, lower forecasts a couple of months earlier.

Mr Burnham added: "The truth is I would have liked to go further and get closer to the aim of 'no net loss' of greenbelt."


Mayor Andy Burnham

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Publication:Manchester Evening News (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Date:Jan 8, 2019
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