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  • Writer's pictureNoel

Oldham's greenbelt is being sacrificed to save Stockport's

The Local Housing Need (LHN) for each borough or city across the country is established by a standardised independent methodology. In theory, each area should make enough housing provision available to accommodate their housing needs. However, as is apparent from the graph above some boroughs are falling far short of their targets while others are substantially exceeding them. This is true of Oldham, who along with Rochdale, Wigan, Manchester and Salford have house-building targets that exceed their housing needs while Bolton, Bury, Stockport, Tameside and Trafford all have house-building targets substantially below their stated Local Housing Need.

To understand what is going on Save Royton's Greenbelt has taken a look under the bonnet to see how the GMSF has come up with its targets for each borough. As you can see from the table below, the Local Housing Need is objectively evaluated for each district of Greater Manchester, which comes to a combined total of 201,000 homes. Based on this Greater Manchester has set a policy target of approximately the same number, but yet the LHN and the targets do not match up for any individual city or borough. So what is going on?

To recap:

  1. The Local Housing Need for each borough and city in Greater Manchester is formulated by following the prescribed Government methodology.

  2. This results in an overall Local Housing Need of 201,000 homes for Greater Manchester.

  3. The overall housing target for Greater Manchester is set at 201,000 homes through Policy GM-H 1.

  4. This target is broken down to borough level so each borough and city in Greater Manchester is set their own target in such a way that the combined total is equal to the policy target.

The GMSF documentation provides no explanation as to why the individual borough targets do not meet the LHN targets formulated by the Government methodology. However, it is clear that the targets have been established so they add up to Greater Manchester's overall policy target, and it is obvious that if some boroughs "under-supply" others will have to "over-build" to meet the policy target.

An explanation was offered by William Wragg, a Conservative MP for Stockport during a parliamentary debate held 21st February 2019.

Wragg praises the GMSF for redistributing housing targets across the county to where "land availability is greater". So what is essentially happening is that greenbelt is being saved in boroughs such as Stockport at the expense of places like Oldham, Rochdale and Wigan.

Given that Royton, Shaw & Crompton and Chadderton North are stumping up 10 percent of Greater Manchester's entire greenbelt loss this raises serious questions of fairness over the disproportionate burden on these three towns.

It also raises fundamental questions about the purpose of the Greater Manchester Spacial Framework. If the whole point of the project is to address housing needs in Greater Manchester over the next 20 years then the GMSF has singularly failed to do that. Building a few hundred extra houses on Hanging Chadder does not solve a housing shortage in Stockport.


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