The 10 local authorities in Greater Manchester have unveiled a plan to work together on a statutory basis to deliver about 225,000 new homes and support significant employment growth over the next 20 years.
In an agreement that is believed to be the first of its kind, the overarching joint development plan for Greater Manchester will be linked to each of the 10 councils’ local plans.
Details about where the homes and employment units would be located are not in the document that is out for public consultation today.
Eamonn Boylan, chief executive of Stockport MBC and Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s lead chief executive on planning and housing, told LGC the body did not have statutory planning powers but added: “That statutory framework may change but we are seeking to create a statutory document…
“We are not trying to create a single planning authority for Greater Manchester – the districts will retain planning – but this is an agreement to genuinely collaborate and it will give us more flexibility to manage outputs in a more coherent way.”
In addition to 225,000 new homes, the plan also outlines the creation of 2.8 million square metres of additional office space, and four million square feet of industrial and warehouse flooring space by the year 2033.
Mr Boylan said having a statutory document would provide “greater clarity” and “robustness”.
“Doing this on a voluntary basis would make it very difficult to take strategic decisions and manage delivery,” he said.
However, he added he did not know at this stage what would happen if there was a failure by some or all of the local authorities to stick to the statutory plan.
“We are still in the process of working through the detail on that,” he said.
Mr Boylan said discussions with the Department for Communities & Local Government had taken place “to give them the outline of what we are doing”. The department was “very supportive of what we are trying to do,” he said.
Asked how replicable he thought this would be for other local authorities, Mr Boylan said it was “hard to say” but added he thought it was something “other combined authorities will look at with interest and we are sharing it with them”.
Mr Boylan said he would not “pretend it has been easy” to get to this point and added there was “a lot of work ahead”.
After the six-week public consultation, Mr Boylan said changes might be made based on the feedback given before “options for distribution and delivery” are defined over the next two years.
The document’s final publication is scheduled for 2017.
Meanwhile, the 10 leaders across Greater Manchester recently agreed to establish a housing delivery agency to deal with the management of public sector land and to negotiate with the government over future funding.
The agency will seek to support individual authorities in delivering key priorities and may, over time, become a developer of homes in its own right.