There are plans to build 12,000 homes in Bury’s Draft Local Plan, which includes a 3,500-home site on Green Belt land by Elton reservoir and large greenfield schemes in Walshaw and Simister.
The council says the majority of proposed developments will be on brownfield land and that it is trying to reduce urban sprawl and avoid damaging the borough’s natural attractiveness. At the same time, it plans to build on greenfield sites to meet growing housing demand.
The largest such site will be developed on the eastern side of the M66 to boost industry and prevent much of the area’s workforce form commuting into other areas in the Greater Manchester region. Given the Government’s challenging housing targets, the council says the only way it can meet these targets is to build on greenfield sites like these.
“We have consistently said that we want to prioritise the development of brownfield land and the council is working hard to get our borough’s vacant sites developed,” says Councillor Sandra Walmsley, cabinet member for strategic housing and support services. “However, the powers available to us to force landowners and developers to build on these sites is limited, and the council is lobbying the Government for powers to tackle those who fail to develop land within a reasonable timeframe.”
In what smacks of something of a pre-emptive strike, Walmsley adds that the draft GMSF has been prepared in line with the Government’s national planning policy, which calls for plans that meet an area’s full development needs.
“The only way that this can be done in Greater Manchester and Bury is to release some Green Belt land,” she adds.
Bury is just one of 10 councils considering plans as part of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework. It is estimated that up to 225,000 new homes will be needed between now and 2035 to meet Greater Manchester’s housing need.
The draft plan will open for public consultation from 31 October to 23 December and the final draft will be published in 2017.