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Volume 664: debated on Thursday 3 October 2019


Thursday 3 October 2019


Housing, Communities and Local Government

Greater Manchester Spatial Framework

The petition of Residents of Boothstown,

Declares that they and other affected parties are opposed to GMA 31 of the revised Greater Manchester Spatial Framework which removes the land east of Boothstown from the Green Belt; and further that development on this land would be to the detriment of the quality of life and wildlife to the residents of Boothstown.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to do all in its power to stop this land being removed from the Green Belt and protect this green space from development.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Barbara Keeley, Official Report, 25 July 2019; Vol. 663, c. P21.]


Observations from the Minister for Housing (Ms Esther McVey):

The national planning policy framework maintains a strong protection for the green belt. The fundamental aim of green belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of green belts are their openness and their permanence. The framework defines certain types of development as “inappropriate” in a green belt. Inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the green belt and should not be approved except in very special circumstances.

Green belts are formed by planning authorities in line with national policy. When considering any planning application, planning authorities should always ensure that substantial weight is given to any harm to the green belt. We expect planning authorities, working with their communities, to determine what types of development are right for their local areas.

Once a green belt boundary is established, it should only be altered through the preparation or updating of the appropriate plan. Before concluding that exceptional circumstances exist to justify changes to green belt boundaries, the planning authority should be able to demonstrate that it has examined fully all other options for meeting its identified need for development. This will be assessed through the examination of its strategic policies. Once the revised plan is adopted, any new green belt boundary comes into effect.

As the revised framework states, strategic policies can come through a variety of sources, including local plans, joint local plans and spatial development strategies. The Government support mayoral combined authorities and welcomes Greater Manchester’s commitment to joint working between the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs and the combined authority in developing a spatial plan.

However, as such it is the Mayor that has primary responsibility for the details of the proposed plan at this stage. The details of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework will be subject to further consultation and this will provide opportunities to make the voice of your community heard by the mayor. The plan will then be submitted to the independent planning inspectorate to be examined. The examination process includes considering the plan’s consistency with the above policy on releasing green belt land in exceptional circumstances. Therefore, until and whilst that process is being undertaken, it would not be appropriate for the Government to take any further steps regarding the matter at this time.