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Burnham rips up Manchester plan and shifts focus to brownfield development

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Greater Manchester’s newly elected mayor, Andy Burnham, has followed through on a campaign pledge by announcing a radical revision of the city’s strategic plan

On Friday (12 May), Burnham said that he wanted to move the focus of the plan away from development on greenfield sites in between Manchester and its satellite boroughs.

He also promised a greater emphasis on providing ‘genuinely’ affordable housing across his patch.

Burnham said: ‘I am saying today – to repeat what I said in the mayoral campaign – that we now wish to see a radical rewrite of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework to support that desire to build the right kind of homes in the right places.

‘It will result in a substantial reduction in loss of greenfield space across Greater Manchester.

‘It will see a shift away from more development on the main roads towards the town centres.’

Burnham added that he wanted a change in emphasis to build more council and housing association housing.

He said: ‘In recent times there has been a focus on flagship development, on high-end development and on commuter homes.

‘Those schemes will be important in terms of driving Greater Manchester forward and we would like to see those schemes come to fruition.

‘But now the focus does need to change to ensuring there are the right homes at the right level of affordability in all of our communities.’

Last year, the draft version of the strategy recommended that nearly 25 per cent of the 227,000 homes planned over the next 20 years would be delivered through green belt releases.

Burnham’s plan would involve intensifying development in existing town centres.

He said: ‘I want to set a new goal of revitalising our town centres with higher density development, and I today issue a call to developers across Greater Manchester to help us in that work, to look at how we may look to transform the centres of Greater Manchester.

‘Reshape them, not as the old retail centres they were but more as residential centres for the future.

‘Places that are aspirational in terms of the living accommodation they can provide. Places we would like to attract our graduates to stay in terms of their future in Greater Manchester.’

Former chairman of BDP Richard Saxon backed Burnham’s strategy, saying: ‘There is a huge amount of brownfield land in Greater Manchester due to population decline.

‘I support the intention to develop more of this land as an alternative to moving people into car-dependent suburban developments.’

Burnham, a former Labour health secretary, became Greater Manchester’s first elected mayor earlier this month. During his campaign, Burnham criticised the existing spatial plans.

‘Building according to the current framework doesn’t give a variety of homes we need,’ he said.

‘Transport is not integrated, it puts too many cars on the road, and it’s not ambitious enough for industry, it’s too dependent on warehouses, and we can aim higher.’

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