Legal challenge against recently approved development masterplan to build 165,000 homes in Greater Manchester gathering pace

Date published: 29 April 2024

A legal challenge against a recently approved development masterplan to build 165,000 homes in Greater Manchester is gathering pace.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority has confirmed it has received a pre-action protocol letter, part of the process for a prospective claimant before taking legal action, with regard to its Places For Everyone (PfE) plan.

The plan was first proposed in 2016 as the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF). Its latest, approved incarnation is Places For Everyone, a strategic plan over the next 15 years or so, which has the backing of nine of the ten Greater Manchester councils, bar Stockport who opted out of the scheme in 2021.

The plan is designed to promote growth in the region through jobs and housing. As well as home-building, the plan earmarks significant areas for industrial and business development, some of which is on current green belt land.

The PfE ‘plan of nine’ was subject to an inspection from the government, the results of which were released in February. Inspectors found PfE ‘provides an appropriate basis for the planning of the districts of Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan’ after modifications were made.

All the nine of the councils have now ratified the plan. However, it has come under fire from numerous pressure groups and politicians across Greater Manchester.

They have come together under the wider Save Greater Manchester’s Greenbelt (SGMGB) group, who are set to mount the legal challenge to the plan. SGMGB say they will fight for their member group’s areas to save ‘beautiful and much treasured green belt that is currently under threat from developers’ shovels’.

In a recent update, highlighting their fundraising battle for the legal challenge, the group said: “Greater Manchester’s green belt, a vital shield for our environment and communities, is under threat. The plan proposes releasing over 2,000 hectares of environmentally precious, ecologically-rich green spaces for development, jeopardising nature’s recovery, climate mitigation and our health and well-being.

“Save Greater Manchester’s Green Belt has been forced to take legal action to challenge this unnecessary destruction. We, and our followers, strongly believe the plan weakens vital environmental protections and prioritises green belt development over brownfield regeneration.

“This is a fight for the future of our region’s health, natural environment, and green spaces.”

Approximately 5,000 new homes, primary schools, new roads and employment space are proposed in total across the Rochdale borough.

The main sites identified for development under Places for Everyone in the Rochdale borough include 1,200 new homes and 350,000 square metres of employment space near Heywood Distribution Park (the ‘Northern Gateway’); 1,680 new homes and 35,000 square metres of employment space near Stakehill roundabout and over 500 new homes at Trows Farm.

Hundreds of new homes are also planned for Bamford and Norden, Castleton Sidings, Crimble Mill, Newhey Quarry, Roch Valley and Smithy Bridge.


Crimble Mill
Crimble Mill


Additional developments include restoring the Grade-II listed Crimble Mill; new primary schools in Castleton and Smithy Bridge; expansion for two primary schools; a potential new railway at Slattocks; a residential relief road between Albert Royds Street and Smithy Bridge Road, and ‘improved’ sports facilities and pedestrian and cycling routes.

SGMGB estimate the cost to take GMCA to task with judicial review proceedings will be £100,000. A GMCA spokesman said they were considering the legal letter and will respond in due course.

They added that as the matter is now an ongoing legal process, they could not comment further.

Chris Gee, Local Democracy Reporter

Additional reporting: Rochdale Online News

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