No post-Brexit change to Greater Manchester forecasts

The population and jobs forecasts driving the proposed removal of 4,900 hectares of land from Greater Manchester's green belt have not been revised since Britain voted to leave the European Union, according to the local authority chief executive leading housing and planning at the city-region's combined authority.

Manchester: Combined authority has published spatial framework for city-region (picture by, Flickr)
Manchester: Combined authority has published spatial framework for city-region (picture by, Flickr)

Eamon Boylan, lead chief executive for housing and planning at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, was speaking to Planning alongside Manchester City Council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein at the Mipim UK property fair in London last week.

They were speaking the day before the combined authority published its draft statutory spatial framework for the city-region. To be considered by the GMCA’s executive board this week, the framework proposes removing 4,900 hectares of land from Greater Manchester’s green belt to help meet a net housing requirement of around 227,200 net additional dwellings across the city-region’s ten local authorities in the period 2015-35.

Boylan said that the combined authority had reviewed its figures post-Brexit, but had been advised that the growth forecasts on which it had consulted earlier in the year "are still in the right ballpark".

Bernstein said that: "When you are planning within the time horizons that we are at the moment, you can only go on long-term trends. Over the long term we believe that those growth forecasts and what they mean for employment and housing are going to be broadly intact".

Boylan said that the GMCA’s forecast that it will deliver higher than usual employment levels among its residents justifies its rejection of housebuilders’ arguments that even more housing is needed. "The housebuilding industry will say that for every new job you need a new house," says Boylan. "And we are saying no, for a lot of those jobs, we already have people living in the city, we just need to get them more economically engaged".

Bernstein said that the forecast high employment rate for local residents also supports the GMCA’s decision not to downgrade jobs and housing forecasts in light of Brexit, because it suggests that jobs growth would not be dependent on unchanged migration levels from the EU.

"If we were pursuing national formula about levels of local resident engagement in the labour market, then our case would have been undermined slightly by Brexit," he said.

The Spring edition of the Planning for Housing conference takes place in Manchester on 28 February 2017.

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