THE long-awaited revised plan that could shape Greater Manchester for years to come has now been published. JOSEPH TIMAN reports on what this means for homes and jobs in Bury.

THE net loss to green belt land has been cut by 40 per cent in the latest draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) released this week.

Now down to 12 per cent, a fifth of the borough’s green belt was originally marked down for development when the first draft was released in October 2016.

A large portion of this land will form part of the Northern Gateway industrial site which has itself been subject to a reduction of green belt allocation.

Previously proposed housing sites at Holcombe Brook and Baldingstone have been completely removed from the revised plan as has the employment centre of Gin Hall.

In addition to reducing the allocation of green belt land in remaining sites, an extra 78 hectares of land could be added to the borough’s green belt.

Bury’s cabinet member for housing, Cllr Eamonn O’Brien said: “The GMSF is a vital document for the borough, and we have listened to what people have said since the original draft was published in 2016.

“This plan will help to ensure that the right type of development takes place in the right locations, that regeneration takes place in areas where it most needed and that a substantial number of new jobs and housing, including affordable housing, are provided for current and future generations.

“Importantly, the need for more and better infrastructure, such as transport and schools, will be a crucial part of the plan.”

The revised masterplan sets out Greater Manchester’s vision for jobs, homes and the environment until 2037.

It was first drafted in 2016 before the newly-elected mayor Andy Burnham ordered a “radical rewrite” of the plans.

This followed 27,000 responses to the proposal, many of which criticised the amount of green belt land which had been earmarked for housing development.

Since then, the number of new homes that need to be built across Greater Manchester has fallen by more than ten per cent to 201,000.

This is partly down to lower population projections and a new formula to calculate housing need proposed by the government. A total of 9,500 homes need to be built in Bury according to the revised plan.

Although the new formula suggests the borough a further 2,000 more homes, some of this need has been redistributed to other Greater Manchester boroughs.

The main housing sites in the latest draft are in Walshaw, around Elton Reservoir and at the Northern Gateway, comprising Simister, Bowlee and Whitefield.

More than half of these homes are expected to be built during the GMSF period while the remainder might be built after 2037.

At least 1,375 of the new homes in the plan period are expected to be affordable housing and around 4,500 homes are earmarked for brownfield sites.

Cllr O’Brien said: “Our clear policy is ‘brownfield first’ – in fact, in 9 of the last 10 years, more than 90% of new houses in Bury were built on previously developed land.

“However, there simply isn’t enough of it for the number of new jobs and houses that are needed for our growing population.

“It’s important to note that, even if these proposals go forward, they will not happen overnight. It will be years before work starts on the strategic sites and several years before they are fully built out.”

He emphasised the importance of setting aside land to boost the local economy and create jobs, describing the Northern Gateway proposal at Heywood and Pilsworth as a game-changer.

The site could accommodate 1.2 million sq m of industrial and warehousing across Bury and Rochdale potentially creating 25,000 jobs.

Cllr O'Brien added: “We have always struggled to identify enough good quality land for economic development, and the borough’s economy has been held back due to limited opportunities for new investment and for our existing businesses to grow.

"This has also contributed to high levels of out-commuting, with around 50 per cent of Bury’s workers having to travel outside the borough to work. The Northern Gateway is a great opportunity to provide many thousands of accessible and good quality jobs on a site roughly equivalent to Trafford Park.”

The document also sets out measures to protect the environment, conserve wildlife and tackle flood risk as well as improvements to public transport.

Under the new GMSF, the Elton Reservoir proposals would be supported by a new tram station with park and ride facilities and a cycle hub, and a major new road linking Bury and Radcliffe.

This would complement proposals to redevelop Bury Interchange.

The council will be writing to all 84,000 households in the borough to inform residents of the new plans and what impact they will have in their immediate area.

Subject to approval at a Greater Manchester Combined Authority meeting on January 11, an eight-week public consultation will start on January 21 before which people can view the plan and all supporting documents online.