On the 28th July councillors within our Borough will vote to decide whether Bury MBC adopts the Places for Everyone plan.
This is a decision of incredible importance and will impact the lives of everyone who lives within Bury up to 2037 and beyond. One consequence of successfully adopting Places for Everyone will be the loss of significant areas of green belt and this as we all know is a matter of deep concern to thousands of my constituents.
The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and its successor, Places for Everyone, are predicated on the myth that councils within GM are being forced to use 2014 population projections to calculate future housing need and on this basis, there are insufficient brownfield sites to accommodate such a large number of new homes.
Firstly, the use of 2014 figures are not mandatory and this guidance from Government is reiterated in their response to the local housing need proposals, updated on the 1st April this year. It is made clear that meeting housing need is never a reason to cause unacceptable harm to the green belt.
It is further made clear that the standard method ( use of the 2014 figures ) does not present a “target” in plan making, but instead provides a starting point for determining the level of need for the area and it is only after consideration of this, alongside constraints such as green belt and the land that is actually available for development, that the decision on how many homes should be planned for is made.
The position couldn’t be clearer, “It is for local authorities to determine precisely how many homes to plan and where those homes are most appropriately located taking into account their local circumstances and constraints.”
It’s a matter of real regret that Bury Council have not produced an updated Local Plan since 1997 and have chosen instead to produce a Joint Strategic Plan with 8 other GM local authorities.
If our councillors reject Places for Everyone we can follow Stockport, who pulled out of the GMSF and are now preparing their own Local Plan for new homes and sustainable development, that prioritises the protection of the greenbelt and is responsive to the needs and views of residents within their Borough.