A legal challenge against a recently-approved development masterplan to build 165,000 homes in Greater Manchester is gathering pace.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has confirmed it has received a pre-action protocol letter, part of the process for a prospective claimant before taking legal action, with regard to its Places For Everyone (PfE) plan.

The plan was first proposed in 2016 as the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF).

Its latest, approved incarnation is Places For Everyone, a strategic plan over the next 15 years or so, which has the backing of nine of the 10 Greater Manchester councils, bar Stockport who opted out of the scheme in 2021.

The plan is designed to promote growth in the region through jobs and housing.

As well as homebuilding, the plan earmarks significant areas for industrial and business development, some of which is on current green belt land.

The PfE "plan of nine" was subject to an inspection from the government, the results of which were released in February.

Inspectors found PfE "provides an appropriate basis for the planning of the districts of Bury, Bolton, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan" after modifications were made.

All nine of the councils have now ratified the plan.

However, it has come under fire from numerous pressure groups and politicians across Greater Manchester.

They have come together under the wider Save Greater Manchester’s Greenbelt (SGMGB) group, who are set to mount the legal challenge to the plan.

SGMGB say they will fight for their member group’s areas to save "beautiful and much treasured green belt that is currently under threat from developers’ shovels".

In a recent update, highlighting their fundraising battle for the legal challenge, the group said: “Greater Manchester’s green belt, a vital shield for our environment and communities, is under threat.

"The plan proposes releasing over 2,000 hectares of environmentally-precious, ecologically-rich green spaces for development, jeopardising nature’s recovery, climate mitigation and our health and well-being.

“Save Greater Manchester’s Green Belt has been forced to take legal action to challenge this unnecessary destruction.

"We, and our followers, strongly believe the plan weakens vital environmental protections and prioritises green belt development over brownfield regeneration.

“This is a fight for the future of our region’s health, natural environment, and green spaces.”

One area where opposition to the plans has been significant is Bury, where housing allocations will build on significant areas of green belt land.

The plan allows for 3,500 homes to be built in the Elton reservoir area, 1,250 in Walshaw and 1,350 in the Simister and Bowlee area.

Speaking at the meeting which adopted Places For Everyone in March, council leader Eamonn O’Brien said: “There’s no question about it, this decision is one which divides opinion and causes upset, concern and anger.

"Disagreement on this issue does not mean dismissal of the points people make.

“We believe this plan must be adopted as our country faces one of the worst housing crises in modern history.”

He said that "brownfield only" housing development was not the answer in Bury as there was not enough supply.

He added: “We must have a plan which addresses the lack of supply in housing.

"This plan does that while doing as much as it can to protect as much green belt as possible.”

The Bury Folk Keep It Green oppose the plans in Bury.

A statement on their website said the "best way of challenging this will be by way of a regional challenge against the whole plan by this group in conjunction with all the other Save Greater Manchester’s Greenbelt groups".

They estimate the cost to take GMCA to task with judicial review proceedings will be £100,000.

A GMCA spokesman said they were considering the legal letter and will respond in due course.

They added that as the matter is now an ongoing legal process they could not comment further.