A report from the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Growth is attached.
Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Finance and Growth, presented the report which presented proposals for the Publication of a joint Development Plan Document of nine Greater Manchester (GM) districts (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan), to be known as ‘Places for Everyone’ (PfE).
With regards to the recommendation from Overview and Scrutiny Committee, it was noted that working collaboratively had enabled Bury to off-set 2,228 homes from our Local Housing Need to other districts which would otherwise have to be accommodated within the Borough. To withdraw from the plan would therefore result in further pressures on greenbelt land to site those homes. The collaborative plan also secured infrastructure investment from developers, which was lost if Bury withdrew from the joint plan.
In response to Members’ questions, it was noted that not every brownfield site was appropriate for housing development, with some (such as the former fire station site) better utilised in developing the local economy. In response to further questions, it was noted that residents’ views were being listened to, and this plan addressed the long-term needs for communities whilst protecting the vast majority of the greenbelt. The plan benefitted Bury, allowing us to shift our housing needs to other areas and prevent further need to release greenbelt land, and giving us greater power to dictate to developers.
With regards to the consultation, the plan would be subject to an eight-week period of public consultation, including online engagement methods as well as a range of other steps to ensure sections of the community that don’t have internet access can get involved in the process. Following this consultation, and subject to the approval of Council, the Places for Everyone plan would be formally submitted to the Government alongside all supporting evidence and responses received during consultation. The Government will then appoint a Planning Inspector (or a panel of Inspectors) to undertake a Public Examination of the plan and this would also take into account all consultation responses and evidence submitted by residents. It was noted that the Council were unable to make changes to the plan but the Planning Inspectors can make alterations based on this evidence.
That, subject to the Joint Committee agreeing that the plan has substantially the same effect and recommending the plan to the districts, Cabinet:
1. Approves the Places for Everyone: Publication Draft 2021, including strategic site allocations and Green Belt boundary amendments, and reference to the potential use of compulsory purchase powers to assist with site assembly, and the supporting background documents, for publication pursuant to Regulation 19 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 for an 8-week period for representations to begin not earlier than 9 August 2021; and
2. Delegate to the Director of Economic Regeneration & Capital Growth authority to approve the relevant Statement of Common Ground(s) required pursuant to the National Planning Policy Framework 2019.
Reasons for the decision:
It is considered that working with the other eight participating districts on PfE 2021 brings a number of important advantages including an up-to-date plan, a stronger local economy, significant infrastructure investment, and reduced impact on the Green Belt. It is important to recognise that if the PfE Joint Plan did not exist or if Bury were not a participant in the process, the strategic matters that are currently dealt with through the GMSF would still need to be covered by the Local Plan. However, the advantages of collaborative working would be lost.
Other options considered and rejected:
For Bury to withdraw from the PfE process and to only produce a Local Plan. The Council has tried to get a replacement Local Plan in place in both 2011 and 2014 but were met with significant challenge as to whether these plans met Bury’s housing needs. The Council chose to pursue the approach recommended by the Inspector undertaking the examination of the Local Plan in 2014 and focus efforts on the preparation of the GMSF before making significant progress on a Local Plan.