A MULTI-MILLION pound pot to help bring brownfield sites up to scratch for development could be pulled by the government.

Bury is in line for a share of a £68m Greater Manchester-wide housing package, some £50m of which is earmarked for the remediation of previously developed land.

But this was based on the number of new houses included in the original Greater Manchester Spatial Framework masterplan, which has been reworked following an outcry over the number of green belt sites earmarked for development.

The new 20-year blueprint, being developed by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority ‘super council’ was due to go out to consultation in July,

But was it delayed until October after new figures revealed the region’s population was not due to grow by as much as earlier statistics had suggested.

And with the conurbation’s housing need being closely linked to future size of its population, there are now fears the government will renege on the deal if the new document makes provision for fewer houses.

Cllr Rishi Shori told a meeting of Bury Council’s overview and scrutiny committee that town hall chiefs were waiting to hear whether the government’s offer would still stand.

He said: “The deal was on the basis that Greater Manchester would meet the GMSF requirement for 227,000 homes. The issue is, of course, it might not be 227,000 because we have used data around population projections that showed that the original 2014 data had over-egged the pudding in terms of what the population growth would be. Because that has fallen it will impact on housing need.

“There’s a potential conflict between what we want in the GMSF because of the housing need and what the government’s aspiration is.”

The council leader would not be drawn on the specific details of the new GMSF document before its release next month but said the council could find itself in a tricky situation.

He said: “If the population projection comes to substantially less than initially put forward for the GMSF, then logical conclusion would be you would need less sites.

“The issue we have is that what goes into your local plan has to be on a legal basis, so if you release more land than is required then that can be challenged and found to be unsound, the same way as if you didn’t release enough land to meet housing need. So we are in a bit of a quandry.”

He added that the council would be left “between a rock and a hard place” if funding were to be pulled, as it would still need to build more homes in brownfield sites but without the funds to make them suitable for development.

Cllr Shori told committee members that GMCA was still “seeking clarity” over the government’s house building expectations.

But he added: “What I can say, of course, is we have looked at absolutely minimising the amount of green belt lost in Bury, we absolutely have done that, we will see what is in the public domain in October, but we absolutely have looked at reducing the amount of green belt used for both residential and employment.

“But that conundrum I have set out is very, very real.”