The new regional masterplan for jobs, homes and the environment is proposing a 40% reduction in the amount of Green Belt land to be lost in the borough of Bury.
This major revision is included in the redrafted Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, due to be considered by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority on 11 January. If approved, eight weeks of public consultation will begin on 21 January.
The GMSF will manage the way that Greater Manchester and Bury grow and develop over the next 20 years. It will identify the land required to accommodate the future jobs and new homes that are needed across the conurbation and the new infrastructure that will be required alongside it.
It also sets out measures to protect the environment, conserve wildlife and tackle flood risk, which will complement the £46 million flood defences recently announced for Radcliffe and Redvales.
Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, Bury Council’s cabinet member for housing and who has led on this process since 2017, said: “The GMSF is a vital document for the borough, and we have listened to what people have said since the original draft was published in 2016.
“This plan will help to ensure that the right type of development takes place in the right locations, that regeneration takes place in areas where it most needed and that a substantial number of new jobs and housing, including affordable housing, are provided for current and future generations.
“Importantly, the need for more and better infrastructure, such as transport and schools, will be a crucial part of the plan.”
He added: “As we promised, we will shortly be writing to all 84,000 households in the borough to inform them of the new plans and what impact they will have in their immediate area.
“I strongly urge residents to get involved and have their say when the consultation period starts, expected to be on 21 January.”
Cllr O’Brien explained that the level of housing needed for Bury is determined by a methodology prepared by the Government.
“Our clear policy is ‘brownfield first’ – in fact, in 9 of the last 10 years, more than 90% of new houses in Bury were built on previously developed land.
“However, there simply isn’t enough of it for the number of new jobs and houses that are needed for our growing population. It’s regrettable that some Green Belt land is required to meet some of these needs; and I’m pleased that we have managed to achieve a 40% net reduction in the amount of Green Belt land to be lost compared to the first draft of the GMSF.
“It’s important to note that, even if these proposals go forward, they will not happen overnight. It will be years before work starts on the strategic sites and several years before they are fully built out.”
Cllr O’Brien emphasised the importance of setting aside land to boost the local economy and create jobs, describing the Northern Gateway proposal at Heywood/Pilsworth as a game–changer.
“We have always struggled to identify enough good quality land for economic development, and the borough’s economy has been held back due to limited opportunities for new investment and for our existing businesses to grow. This has also contributed to high levels of out-commuting, with around 50% of Bury’s workers having to travel outside the borough to work. The Northern Gateway is a great opportunity to provide many thousands of accessible and good quality jobs on a site roughly equivalent to Trafford Park.”
The GMSF in Bury – in summary
Protecting the Green Belt
- Overall there is a 40% net reduction in the loss of Green Belt proposed from the first draft – from a loss of 20% of Bury’s Green Belt to 12% now.
- The reduction in Green Belt loss would have been even higher than 40% - around 66% - if the employment site at the Northern Gateway had been removed from the plan, but the council believes this site is vital in creating the jobs the borough needs.
- The proposed housing sites of Holcombe Brook and Baldingstone have been removed completely and there has been a considerable reduction in Green Belt release on the remaining allocations.
- The proposed employment site of Gin Hall has been removed completely, along with a reduction in the loss of Green Belt land on the Northern Gateway site.
- It is also proposed to put an additional 78 hectares of land into Bury’s Green Belt that is not currently Green Belt.
- Some of the borough’s housing needs will now be met elsewhere in Greater Manchester, which has reduced the amount of Green Belt required for development in the borough.
- Of the 12% Green Belt loss proposed in the new plan, some 7% would be for housing and 5% for employment sites.
- Jobs are vital to the borough’s prosperity, therefore the new GMSF retains the Northern Gateway site at Pilsworth/Heywood.
- This site could accommodate 1.2 million sq m of industrial and warehousing use, including advanced manufacturing and offices, across Bury and Rochdale.
- This has the potential to create 25,000 new jobs locally, bringing a wider range of job opportunities for Bury people and greater resilience to the Bury economy.
A clear plan for new homes
- Bury’s need for new homes is 11,500 by 2037 according to a methodology introduced by the Government. However, the GMSF process allows for some of this need to be redistributed to other Greater Manchester authorities – this has reduced the borough’s homes target down to 9,500, thus protecting more Green Belt land.
- The main housing sites are in Walshaw, around Elton Reservoir and at the Northern Gateway (comprising Simister/Bowlee and Whitefield), which will help to meet Bury’s medium to long-term housing needs.
- Together, these sites could provide for 7,500 homes, but only 5,500 of these are envisaged to be built during the period of the GMSF. The remainder might be built after 2037, but the sites need to be identified now to aid long-term planning and ensure that the essential infrastructure is in place.
- Importantly, at least 1,375 of the new homes in the plan period will be affordable housing.
- Around 4,500 homes are also earmarked for development on brownfield sites to help meet the short term housing needs in the borough. Along with the GMSF sites, around 10,000 homes are identified over the plan period, providing a ‘buffer’ to the 9,500 target in the event that some sites do not come forward as envisaged.
- The proposed numbers on the sites are similar to the first GMSF draft but they would be built at higher density on a reduced area and over a longer period.
- The amount of Green Belt to be released has been cut by 40% since the first draft.
- The plan will protect the new Green Belt boundaries for a generation. Not having a plan will mean that sites could be picked off one by one by developers.
- All new developments must mitigate any environmental harm that may be incurred.
- The proposals will provide opportunities to implement or upgrade existing flood defence measures.
Improving public transport, tackling congestion and improving air quality
Traffic congestion causes air pollution in parts of Bury such as Bury Bridge, which is damaging people’s health.
Under the new GMSF, the Elton Reservoir proposals would be supported by a new tram station with park and ride facilities and a cycle hub, and a major new road linking Bury and Radcliffe.
This would complement proposals to redevelop Bury Interchange, and plans to improve public transport around the strategic sites, including rapid transport links through the Northern Gateway.
All of this new transport infrastructure will open up the blocked transport system to relieve the congestion we all see.
Schools and education
- Developers at the strategic sites will be required to contribute towards the cost of new schools and/or upgraded education facilities.
- It is envisaged that four new primary schools will be needed as a result of the proposals (one each at Walshaw and Simister and two in the Elton Reservoir area), plus at least one new secondary school (in Radcliffe, again as part of the Elton Reservoir proposals).
- More than 90% of homes built in the last 10 years has been built on brownfield land.
- This does not leave enough brownfield land to accommodate all the new homes proposed under the GMSF – however, there is the potential to deliver around 4,500 units in the existing urban area.
- The council is committed to bringing forward the borough’s remaining brownfield sites to help meet housing needs. The largest of these sites (East Lancs Paper Mill) has just received planning permission for 400 new homes and there are ongoing regeneration plans on the other sites.
- New recreation facilities would be provided at the development sites, with greenways and cycle routes through them.
- The proposals will open these areas up to the public at large, and improve access to the parts of the sites that will be retained as Green Belt.
Come to a drop-in session
Six drop-in sessions are being held for residents to view the GMSF plans and talk to officers about them.
They are as follows:
* Wednesday 30 January – Elizabethan Suite, Bury (12-8pm)
* Monday 4 February – Elton High School, Bury (4–8pm)
* Wednesday 6 February – Longfield Centre, Prestwich (2-8pm)
* Monday 11 February – Radcliffe Market Hall (2–8pm)
* Tuesday 12 February – Castlebrook High School (4-8pm)
* Wednesday 6 March – Elizabethan Suite (12–8pm)
Get involved - have your say
The formal consultation period is expected to start on Monday 21 January and run until Monday 18 March.
Details of the plan and how to comment will be available at www.gmconsult.org from 14 January. Also, from 21 January, hard copies can be inspected at the Planning Division reception (Ground Floor, 3 Knowsley Place, Bury); at Bury Town Hall reception; at local libraries and at the Tottington Centre during their normal opening hours.
You can also be kept up to date with future consultations on the GMSF by registering your interest with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority - email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0161 778 7006.
Keeping you informed
As promised, Bury Council will send a letter to all 84,000 households following Friday's GMCA meeting, announcing the redrafted GMSF and explaining how you can get involved.
The letter will be tailored to each of the 17 wards in the borough of Bury, and will outline how the GMSF will affect the ward in which you live.
Press release issued: 7 January 2019.
For further information please contact Peter Doherty in the council press office on 0161 253 6096. Alternatively please email email@example.com