Date: 12/02/2019
Author: Chris Fletcher
Company: GMCC

Chris Fletcher, Marketing & Campaigns Director at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, looks at the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

The last few weeks have seen an absolute flurry of plans, reports and strategy documents released by amongst others the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Transport for Greater Manchester and Transport for the North. No doubt a lot of this may have passed you by.

After having been in some sort of policy hibernation for a long period (maybe Brexit induced?) the last couple of months have seen a return to what was a familiar position several years ago in Greater Manchester - big consultations on big ideas. And they probably don't get much bigger than the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF). 

When I say big it isn't just its ambition, scope and scale I'm referring to. With all the appendices and assessments it comes in at just over 1100 pages and makes the 585 pages of the Draft EU Withdrawal Agreement look like a bit of bedtime reading!

The key parts though are in the first 400 or so pages and set out in clear detail for such a huge document, basically what the blueprint is for Greater Manchester up to 2037. Houses, transport, services, infrastructure, parkland, it is all here in the GMSF.

This is just the latest draft though and is currently open for consultation. Two years ago, pre-Mayor, the draft version then was roundly condemned due to the fact it was little more than a list of housing projects sat in isolation of any supporting transport or infrastructure plans. It was all very well to plan where houses should be built but where were the links to public transport, the schools, the other services? There weren't any, or if there were they were very well hidden. Little surprise then that Andy Burnham made it a central part of his manifesto to rewrite the plan and several redrafts later this is the latest version, complete with missing links.

The other big difference this time around is that as a city region Greater Manchester is now better placed and will be increasingly so in the future to be able to self-deliver the content of the framework. With a raft of existing devolved powers the Mayor has got a genuine chance to deliver most of what is needed and the intention is very much to go and get those extra powers which currently still sit in Whitehall.

However, before we all get carried away this, what I have weighing heavily on my desk is still a consultation and one in which the views of business really matter. So if you have an interest in this work or want to know what is planned for your local area then use the link here to access the document and look at specific chapters and please let me know what your thoughts are.

We'll be collecting and collating feedback for the next few weeks up to our next Policy & Campaign Group meeting on 1st March when we'll start to draft our final response.

You may well be lacking in spatial awareness but this framework, if passed, will impact across all areas of life, leisure and business in Greater Manchester for decades to come, so don’t miss out on this chance to have your say.

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