Greater Manchester Spatial Framework is the wrong plan, at the wrong time

Liberal Democrats in Oldham and across Greater Manchester are calling for a halt to the Greater Manchester Strategic Framework, due to be published on 5 October 2020.

In advance of the publication, Oldham Council has revealed their local proposals and there will be a full meeting of the Council to discuss these on Wednesday 28 October.

Wrong plan

Oldham Liberal Democrat Councillors recognise that we will need more homes in the Borough, and we want to build the high quality, affordable and energy efficient homes that people need, but not at the expense of losing our precious green spaces.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, residents have been using our great outdoors for exercise and solace. This experience this year tells us, we need our open spaces more than ever.

Our precious Green Belt land must be protected with development restricted to existing sites and brownfield land.

GMSF’s housing need numbers are based on 2014 data. The numbers are now off. We are now in the middle of a Covid-19 pandemic and soon we will face an uncertain future after Brexit; both will have a massive impact on our future economy and our housing need. GMSF is out of date before it even written never mind published.

Wrong time

Greater Manchester Councils are proposing to consult with the public over a seven-week period, which includes Christmas and is in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a democracy, people need to be able to meet, to discuss, and to campaign around the issues that affect them in their local areas. Oldham Liberal Democrats believe that this is the wrong time to conduct any consultation if it is to be meaningful and inclusive. At a time when people are rightly focussed on Covid-19 and its massive impact on our lives, it is a disgrace to even call this a consultation.

GMSF is also already based on an outdated process. The Government’s White Paper ‘Planning for the Future’ sets out the new way that local plans will be drawn up and new ways that housing numbers will be calculated.
Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, Leader of the Opposition, said: “I believe that this is the wrong plan presented at the wrong time.

Howard Sykes

“Building on Green Belt cannot be justified, especially when, with the economic downturn forecast on the coat tails of Covid-19 and Brexit, we will have more empty shops and offices and undeveloped sites in the town centre that could serve for housing. The housing numbers are also off as later projections for housing need have been lower than those first published in 2014, and in any case less people will be able to afford to settle in a new home.

“Furthermore, people will just not be engaged with this final stage of consultation as they focus on keeping themselves and their families safe from disease and unemployment. The Conservative Government’s Planning for the Future proposals will in any case make GMSF redundant as they require every Greater Manchester Council to produce an entirely new local plan within 30 months of the legislation being passed. It is crazy to proceed with GMSF when the rules are so clearly about to change.”

Liberal Democrat Councillors will oppose the latest GMSF proposals when they are presented to the special meeting of Oldham Council, to be held on Wednesday 28 October.

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