GREEN belt supporters have given the thumbs up to Andy Burnham’s promise to stick to his campaign pledge for a radical re-write of the controversial spatial framework plans.
The newly-elected mayor of Greater Manchester said that his changes will result in a significant reduction in the amount of green belt land due to be lost over the coming decades.
Cementing this promise, Mr Burnham announced last week that Paul Dennett, current mayor of Salford, will lead his rewrite of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework blueprint.
The plan has faced widespread negative feedback since being published towards the end of 2016. The proposals, embraced by each borough, showed the building of 225,000 new homes, and millions of square metres given to office and industrial space.
And the decimation of vast areas of protected green belt – including the Timperley Wedge.
Mr Burnham said: "It [the re-write] will result in a substantial reduction in the loss of green space across Greater Manchester. It will see a shift from more development on main roads, towards town centres.
"I want to set a new goal of revitalising our town centres with higher density development and I today issue a call to developers to help us in that work."
But the group masterminding protests across Greater Manchester warned that the newly elected mayor still needed to do more to embrace protestors' needs.
“There’s much to be welcomed here,” said Steven Longden, of Save Timperley Wedge Greenbelt (STWGB). “And it’s encouraging that the spatial framework was on the mayor’s agenda for an early public airing.
“We’re also pleased that a new lead has been identified, and appointed, for the crucial role of rewriting the new blueprint for housing and development over the next twenty years.
“However, the devil is in the detail, and we have a list of things that we’d like the mayor to share with us.”
This includes clarity on what methodology will be used to forecast population growth; a commitment to deliver an up-to-date and accurate brown field site register for every borough; and an accurate and public commitment to how much of the House Building Fund will be used for social and affordable housing.
Steven, who also chair of Save Greater Manchester's Greenbelt, added: “If we get answers to these points I believe that our vision, and argument for an untouched green belt will take a step nearer reality.
“But we’d also like to work much more closely with the planners.
“We would like a commitment from the Leader of the Council for STWGB to regularly meet with Trafford’s Chief Planner to share evidence and explain our views.
“And more importantly, for them to show a willingness to change course when we or our partners provide convincing arguments and evidence.
“We’re talking about genuine collaboration here. We firmly believe we are such important stakeholders in this project. We have to be round that table.”
Last month, a rally in Albert Square - organised by Save Greater Manchester Greenbelt (SGMGB) - attracted 1,500 protestors and widespread media coverage. The event reflected the passion behind 26,000 written objections submitted following the publication of the spatial framework.
“We’re in this for the long term,” said Steven. “We’re going to maintain the terrific impetus created by our fellow 39 local protest groups around Greater Manchester, and hope that the new mayor and Trafford Council can see just how serious we are about saving our green belt.
“Of course, we understand, and have empathy with the need for affordable housing; and of course, we understand the need to create new jobs for the future. We have children and grandchildren.
“But these same children, and their parents, need places to walk and run and relax and play where the air is clean. That’s why we want STWGB and the other 38 local protest groups to be an intrinsic part of the rewrite project.”