Agenda item


Prior to its consideration at Cabinet, Members are asked to review the attached report from the Leader of the Council, Councillor O’Brien. 





The Leader of the Council attended the meeting to present an overview prior to publication of the Places for Everyone Joint Plan.

Documents had been shared with Members prior to the meeting which contained information in respect of the rationale for the proposal.  The Leader reported that continuing to work collaboratively on a joint plan across the nine districts brings significant benefits to Bury including a stronger local economy; reduced impact on the Green Belt; an up-to-date plan; significant infrastructure investment and affordable housing.

The reports circulated in advance of the meeting provided information in respect of:

  • Publication plan and consultation
  • Plans for Homes
  • Plans for the environment
  • Plans for jobs
  • Plans for the greenbelt and a brownfield land preference


Questions and comments were invited from Members of the Committee and the following issues were raised:


Following a commitment from the Leader at the meeting a summary of the questions and responses received are appended to the minutes; the responses will also be made available on the Council’s website


1.   Councillor Birchmore raised concerns in respect of the criteria used to select the sites including concerns in relation to Radcliffe/Elton Reservoir and the effect on green belt.


Responding The Leader reported that the criteria was developed using national planning policy principles and the wider strategic context of Greater Manchester’s ambitions to boost the competitiveness of northern districts, create more opportunities for employment and improve the housing offer and market.

The Elton Reservoir site meets criterion 6 as it is in close proximity to the existing tram line and has the potential to provide a comprehensive public transport hub as part of a new tram stop.  This is proposed to include a park and ride facility as well as well as active travel facilities (e.g. cycle hub / electric vehicles etc).

2.   Councillor LJ Dean sought clarification in relation to previously undertaken consultation and also whether the Council could choose to have a local plan


The Leader reported without an up-to-date plan in place we would be at serious risk of:

  • Planning by appeal - rather than development being planned and managed properly, we would be likely to get inundated by smaller-scale ad-hoc planning applications on Green Belt land with developers appealing against any refusal of planning permission - with a greater likelihood of success given the recent appeal decision in Welwyn.
  • Government intervention - Government has indicated that it will use sanctions for districts that do not have an up-to-date plan by December 2023 meaning that Bury's planning powers could be removed and for us to have a plan produced for us - which could mean higher housing targets than currently set out by the PfE.


3.   Councillor Lucy Smith asked for clarification in relation to the number of houses that may be required if Bury Council, like Stockport chose to develop a local plan rather than partake in the GM PfE report


The Leader reported that the Council would be in a much worse position and may be required to build more housing than those committed to in the PfE proposal, Bury have been able to reduce the housing commitment following cooperation with the other 8 districts.


4.   Councillor Vernon sought clarification in respect of the number of houses expected to be built at Elton Reservoir.


The Leader reported that The Elton Reservoir site is key to delivering significant early investment into essential infrastructure and the site needs to be able to provide the long-term certainty on the scale of development to withstand the considerable costs.


In total, the site could deliver around 3,500 units but only around 1,900 are considered to be deliverable within the plan period.  This figure is based on aspirational delivery rates from the site and will be dependent on the infrastructure being provided to allow the site to come forward.


5.   Councillor Vernon sought assurances as to why the Council is insisting that they have no choice but to build on greenbelt.


The evidence from local plan examinations is that where the scale of housing need cannot be met within the urban area, and neighbouring authorities are unable to meet some of that need, a failure to identify potential green belt sites risks the plan being found unsound.

Recent planning appeal decisions have shown that in the absence of an up-to-date plan, Green Belt sites are at risk of unplanned and uncoordinated development which fails to deliver the necessary infrastructure.  Without an up-to-date plan in place, we are at serious risk of planning by appeal and Government intervention.

6.   Councillor Birchmore raised concerns in respect of the number of homes expected to be built in the green belt surrounding Elton Reservoir and the concerns that the infrastructure is not there to support the housing developments.



The Leader reported that the development of the Radcliffe Strategic Framework will allow for short, medium and long term inclusive growth and will include infrastructure projects in addition to the new high school; including two new primary schools, support for, public transport, highways, health as well as creating new economic centres.


7.   Councillor LJ Dean sought clarification as to how the numbers of brownfield

Sites had been calculated and why Bury had only received £1.3million in brownfield regeneration monies and why the proposed fire station building has not been set aside for housing development.


In response the Leader reported that Each district has prepared their own Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA), in line with Government guidance.

A summary of the supply and the approach taken are provided in the PfE Housing Topic Paper – Housing Land Supply Statement appendix available on the GMCA website and Bury’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment is published on the Council’s website with a full site listing and an online map showing the location of all the sites that have been assessed.

The Leader reported that the fire station site will bring new economic activity to the Town Centre and create jobs and help to re-balance the economy.

  1. Councillor Powell sought assurances in respect of the Plans for Bowlee and Simister in particular that there would be no proposals to allow through traffic via Simister village and no infill developments at Simister village

The Leader confirmed that he could guarantee there would be no through road through Simister, master planning work undertaken acknowledged that it would not be appropriate to use a single-track road but it would be permeable to enable people to walk and cycle.  Traffic as a result of the Bowlee developments would feed in, instead, through Middleton

The Leader reported that the plan had been changed to protect Simister village and there would be no risk of any infill developments, and he would like to reassure residents in Simister, that the housing development will be at Bowlee.

  1. Councillor Birchmore asked for clarification in relation to the brownfield first policy.

Responding the Leader reported that the development of suitable brownfield sites remains a priority for the Council. The Brownfield Land Statement affirms our commitment to the regeneration of brownfield sites and sets out some of the key tools that the Council is using to support the regeneration and re-use of brownfield sites.


We are continuing to make progress in bringing forward the East Lancashire Paper Mill (ELPM) site for housing and have agreed to enter into a Collaboration Agreement with Homes England and a delivery strategy as set out in the report to Cabinet on 26 May 2021.  A number of brownfield sites are identified within the strategy for redevelopment, including East Lancashire Paper Mill, School Street adjacent to Millwood Primary School and Blackburn Street Gateway. We successfully secured brownfield land funding to de-risk the School Street site, with work well under way to address some of the abnormal costs associated with developing sites of this nature.


The Leader confirmed that as well as the School Street Site funding was also made available for Fletcher Fold.


  1.   Councillor Bernstein asked if there was any scope to move the consultation deadline back to 1st September 2021.


The Leader reported due to the 2023 deadline for getting a plan in place and the length of time it is likely to take for the PfE plan to go through an Examination in Public, it is not proposed that consultation is delayed until September.


A lot of the information to support the plan has been in the public domain for many months, and there have already been several rounds of extensive consultation.  An 8-week consultation period is considered to give sufficient time for all those who wish to respond to do so.


  1.   Councillor Bernstein asked for clarification as to what was meant by the term “major new issue”.

Responding the Leader reported public opposition to building on the Green Belt cannot be considered to be major new issue, although if representations are made to this effect, the Planning Inspectorate will give this the appropriate consideration and weight.

A major new issue could, for example, be major changes to national planning policy with no applicable transitional arrangements up to and throughout the Examination.  Another example could be updated evidence which may influence the plan.  The plan, therefore, may evolve through the Examination process, as the Inspector takes a view on the submitted evidence and the representations made as a result of this consultation.

  1.   Councillor Boroda asked what would be the position if the Council fails to adopt a plan.

The Leader reported that if we do not adopt a plan by 2023 the Council would be outside the protection afforded by the current arrangements.  This protection allows the Council to insist on high standards of development, clear infrastructure plans and restricts building on green belt.  The concern would be if the Council are operating outside of the plan, there would be a developer free for all.  The Assistant Director, Strategy Planning and Regulation reported that 2023 is a government imposed deadline, the Government may appoint planning inspectors/ planning decisions maybe taken out of local planning authority control, or other sanctions may be imposed if a plan is not in place by the imposed deadline.


  1.   Councillor McGill asked if there is criteria to ascertain/determine if a brownfield site is suitable for housing and if so have these been applied?

The Leader reported that it is very expensive to remediate and prepare a brownfield site for development.   The Assistant Director, Strategy Planning and Regulation reported that each Brownfield site must be considered on its own merits, the purpose of this plan is to allocate land for housing and infrastructure and employment.   


Councillor Vernon moved, and Councillor Birchmore seconded, that the following  recommendation

The scrutiny committee advises the Cabinet to reject the Places For Everyone model like Stockport has and pursue a Bury local plan.”

Be forwarded from Overview and Scrutiny to Cabinet, and On being put, with 5 voting for, 4 against

It was agreed:


The scrutiny committee advises the Cabinet to reject the Places For Everyone model like Stockport has and pursue a Bury local plan.


Supporting documents: