Developers warn over 'pessimistic' Manchester spatial framework

The current draft of the statutory spatial framework for Greater Manchester is a 'handbrake on opportunity' and risks being found unsound at examination, a group of housebuilders and developers have warned.

Manchester: spatial strategy out for consultation
Manchester: spatial strategy out for consultation

In an open letter to the leaders of the ten Greater Manchester councils and the city’s interim mayor, lobby group Housing the Powerhouse says that the plan is a "once in a generation opportunity for Greater Manchester to meet the aspirations of millions of people and close the prosperity gap with London".

The letter welcomes measures in the draft plan to free up green belt land for development, but says the group has a responsibility to be "critical friends" in a process "we strongly support, in order to help Greater Manchester achieve a sound and positive plan".

The letter warns that, in its current shape, the plan "is a handbrake on opportunity".

It says that the document is "pessimistic" about the potential for jobs growth in Greater Manchester.

"The current draft plans for reduced job growth in the years to come. At a time when the objective is to see Greater Manchester perform to its maximum potential, it is illogical to plan on the basis of weaker jobs growth than in its recent past and in comparable areas", it says.

The letter also says that the document "plans for too few homes" and there is a "major mismatch between the future population and the future economy that the [draft document] plans for, something that is compounded by the pessimistic assumptions about jobs growth".

The letter warns that the plan "effectively sidesteps the significant unmet need for affordable homes across Greater Manchester, despite the region taking a lead on developing new delivery models and funding initiatives for affordable housing".

"Delivering enough affordable homes to reduce the waiting list of 81,000 families simply will not happen without planning for, and then securing, affordable provision as part of private sector schemes, on a larger scale than envisaged by the current draft", the letter says.

The letter warns that the group’s concerns "are significant enough to make us nervous that the plan may be found ‘unsound’".

"We have already seen other local authorities running into delays of several years for very similar reasons. Manchester cannot afford for this to happen here", it says.

The first round of public consultation into the draft plan closes on Friday 23 December.

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