I’ve been very clear from the moment Greater Manchester Combined Authority produced their draft spatial framework plans that I fully support moves to identify sites for future housing and business growth, this makes sense both for housing security, but also economic growth.
However, my strong belief is that any housing or business development should take place on existing brownfield sites throughout the Stockport area first.
I decided I needed to discover all the facts, specifically how each local authority identified their brownfield sites for future building. In late 2016 I submitted Freedom of Information requests to each of the ten individual local authorities to find out, and their responses shocked me.
Initially the Spatial Framework identified 72% of the land allocated for new development as being previously developed ‘brownfield’ land with the remaining 28% coming from the release of land from the protected greenbelt. However, the information I received showed that far from being accurate, the brownfield figure in many instances was in fact incorrect because it also included land currently classified as greenfield land within it.
Specifically, the information I’ve unearthed shows that if we were to go ahead with the plans in their current form then much more than the predicted 28% of proposed new development will be built on open spaces; this is unacceptable.
Our green spaces are precious, which is why I have supported a brownfield first strategy from the offset. I’ll be working with local councillors across the constituency, as well as Greater Manchester Combined Authority to ensure that specific sites, such as the area in and around the Tame Valley are protected.
The public deserve the full facts, and I won’t stop until we see a proposal that speaks for all communities.
Originally published in Stockport Express, 1st March 2017.