Mayor promises 'radical re-write' of controversial development plan

A protest rally stage at Wigan Town Hall about the GMSF
A protest rally stage at Wigan Town Hall about the GMSF
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A controversial housing and jobs plan affecting Wigan borough will undergo a "radical rewrite", says new mayor Andy Burnham.

The first draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) had attracted opposition from several campaign groups with two protest rallies staged at the town hall.

Prior to the mayoral elections, Mr Burnham had voiced his concerns about the plans, which earmark parts of green belt for development, as MP for Leigh.

He announced on Thursday that Salford mayor Paul Dennett will take the lead on the new version of the over-arching plan.

Mr Burnham said he wanted to place greater emphasis on providing "truly affordable homes" across the region.

He said: "I wish to see a radical re-write of the Greater Manchester spatial framework to support the desire to build the right kind of homes in the right places.

"It will result in a substantial reduction in the loss of green belt space across Greater Manchester.

"It will see a shift away from more development along the main roads to our town centres, I want to set a new goal to revitalise our town centres with higher density development and I'm calling on developers across GM to help us with that work."

Following a public consultation period, regional local authority leaders were understood to be working on a second draft of the GMSF.

Speaking earlier this month, borough resident and campaigner Gillian Morris, who is particularly concerned about the Bell site in Kitt Green being earmarked for development, said: “People think because things have gone quiet that the plans have been quashed.

“We want to keep the message out there that it hasn’t, it’s still a battle. We are hearing all kinds of rumours about which sites might be scrapped but we won’t know for sure until later in the year.”

The major planning blueprint is said to bring thousands of jobs and houses to the borough but has been hit by criticism from senior political figures including then MPs Lisa Nandy and Yvonne Fovargue.

Fears have been voiced about development on green belt land across the region in addition to concerns about congestion and the knock-on impact on infrastructure.

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