Manchester metro mayor to get strategic planning powers

Greater Manchester is to get its own city-regional mayor with powers over strategic planning, chancellor George Osborne has announced.

Manchester: Treasury announces plan to devolve power to city-region
Manchester: Treasury announces plan to devolve power to city-region

In a statement this morning, the Treasury said that the government will now prepare legislation to create a Greater Manchester mayor with powers over transport, housing, planning and policing.

The mayoral election could take place in 2017, the statement said.

According to the Treasury, powers over strategic planning would be among those handed to the new directly-elected mayor of Greater Manchester.

The Treasury said that the city-wide mayor would have the power to create a statutory spatial framework for Greater Manchester. "This will need to be approved by a unanimous vote of the mayor’s cabinet," the Treasury said.

The mayor would also be handed responsibility for a devolved and consolidated transport budget, responsibility for franchised bus services and for integrated smart ticketing across all local modes of transport, the Treasury added.

In the statement, the Treasury said that the government hopes that Manchester will be "the first of many big cities to take advantage of greater devolution of powers".

Osborne said: "This is a massive moment for the north of England and our plan to build the ‘northern powerhouse’.

"After several months of private discussions with local representatives from all three parties, I have reached agreement with the civic leaders of Greater Manchester to create the first metro-wide elected mayor outside of London.

"This will give Mancunians a powerful voice and bring practical improvements for local people, with better transport links, an Oyster-style travelcard, and more investment in skills and the city’s economy."

Last month, it emerged that local planning authorities in Greater Manchester have started work on what would be England's first statutory development plan for a city-region, with proposals to almost treble its current rate of housebuilding.

Voters in Manchester and eight other English cities rejected the government's plans to replace local council cabinets with directly elected mayors in referenda held in 2012.

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