Many of you will have heard a bit about the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF), some of you may even have submitted your views and ideas already during previous consultation rounds. For those of you who haven’t heard of the GMSF, its more appealing alternative title is “Our Plan for Jobs, Homes and the Environment”.
It is basically a plan for how we ensure that the right homes will be built (and in the right places), and how we secure sustainable jobs and transport improvements to allow our city to grow and so that we can all live in well-connected and environmentally sustainable communities. If we get it right, our city-region will be greener, our people happier and our businesses more successful. But I do worry about some of the approaches we’ve seen with GMSF so far.
Key to its success is that it is for our city-region to decide for ourselves what we want our future to look like – not for important decisions about us to be made from London. That’s why public consultation is so important, and I’d encourage you all to take a look at the final draft of the plan when the next round of public consultation opens, hopefully in November.
But for GMSF to be successful we need to have at its heart the environment – it is, after all, even in the title! This is a recognition of both the importance of green energy and green jobs to our future economy (as well as the future of our planet), but also the importance of protecting our green spaces. The importance of these areas isn’t limited just to their environmental benefit, but also for the impact that they have on our wellbeing and opportunities for leisure and recreation, and the way in which their natural beauty enhances our everyday lives.
One such area is the Tame Valley, a beautiful stretch of green space on the border between Tameside and Stockport. Many of you will be aware of plans to expand the Bredbury industrial estate deep into the green belt on the Stockport side of the river. I am vehemently opposed to this. It’s unnecessary and unsustainable. I have written formal objections to this proposal and have joined hundreds of residents marching against the expansion.
You see there’s already an oversupply of future employment land in Greater Manchester, including nearby to Bredbury at Ashton Moss. There are also lots of brownfield sites – which are crying out for redevelopment before we consider putting more factories on prominent greenfield sites. My hope is that the GMSF will provide the vision and direction that we need to ensure that we can work across our different boroughs to protect important green space and make decisions that make sense for the whole of the city-region. Bredbury needs kicking into touch. Time will soon tell if we get this right for future generations.