Two canal barges parked on a canal.

FAQs and mythbusting

The content on these pages is for reference only.

Following the decision of Stockport Council on December 3 2020, Greater Manchester’s Plan for Homes Jobs and the Environment (the Spatial Framework) is no longer being progressed.

The documents on this page are for information and historical reference only. They are not currently live supporting documents.

Following the AGMA meeting on 12th February, Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan councils will all be asked to agree to form a joint committee to prepare Places for Everyone - a joint development plan for jobs, new homes and sustainable growth across their boroughs.You can read the AGMA paper here.

You can read more about this plan here.

Macro alias: Accordion

The Government requires every local authority to produce plans that identify enough land to meet local housing and employment needs. It has given local authorities a deadline of December 2023 to have a local plan in place. The GMSF will help each local authority in Greater Manchester to meet this deadline. 

Clearly since we last consulted, Covid-19 has had a major impact on the way people live and work over the shorter term with a high degree of uncertainty over its impact in the long term.

In response the Government has been very clear that we need to positively plan for recovery. The Prime Minister made his Build, Build, Build announcement at the end of June 2020 setting a context for England as we recover from Covid-19

The Chancellor’s Statement at the beginning of July sought to kick-start the UK’s economic recovery. A three point Plan for Jobs was unveiled to support, protect and create jobs, with total fiscal support amounting to £30 billion. Whilst the arrival of Covid-19 was not anticipated and its impact is very significant, our approach needs to be flexible to address unpredictable challenges that will arise over the course of any long-term strategy.

The approach to the delivery and implementation of our long term strategies and plans will need to recognise the potential for change that Covid-19 has and continues to create, and to maintain a level of flexibility to adapt while still providing a robust foundation on which to build and grow Greater Manchester.

Government has also been very clear that the pandemic is not a reason to pause plan preparation.

There have been two previous consultations on the GMSF. The first draft of the GMSF (2016) saw more than 27,000 residents in Greater Manchester provide feedback, and the plans underwent significant review, including reducing Green Belt impact.

The second consultation took place in 2019. More than 17,500 people, businesses and community organisations responded, and more than 67,000 comments were submitted.

This is the ‘Publication Stage’ of the plan, it is the final stage of consultation before the plan goes to the Secretary of State who will then appoint an independent inspector or inspectors to examine the plan.

The Publication Plan is the plan that the 10 local authorities consider to be the plan they intend to submit to the Secretary of State for examination.  This is a formal stage of consultation and at this stage of consultation we are asking you whether you think the GMSF meets the ‘tests of soundness’

 The term 'sound' is used to describe a Local Plan that has been prepared in accordance with what Government expects of local planning authorities. These expectations are set out in paragraph 35 of the National Planning Policy Framework as follows:

1) "Positively prepared - the plan should be prepared based on a strategy which seeks to meet objectively assessed development and infrastructure requirements, including unmet requirements from neighbouring authorities where it is reasonable to do so and consistent with achieving sustainable development". This means that the Greater Manchester councils must produce a plan which promotes economic growth in its areas and makes provision for the homes, employment and infrastructure which it determines are needed.

2) "Justified - the plan should be an appropriate strategy, when considered against the reasonable alternatives, based on proportionate evidence". This means that the Greater Manchester councils must have considered other policies and determined its approach based upon the most up to date and robust evidence including population figures, Strategic Housing Market Assessment, land availability etc.

3 "Effective - the plan should be deliverable over its period and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic priorities". This means that the Greater Manchester councils  must be confident that the policies within the GMSF can be achieved within the plan period (2020 to 2037). Greater Manchester councils must also work with neighbouring authorities such as Rossendale, Cheshire East, Warrington and Derbyshire.

4) "Consistent with national policy - the plan should enable the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies within the National Planning Policy Framework".

The National Planning Policy Framework sets out the Government's policies for planning in England. Policies within the GMSF must not conflict with these policies.

People are also asked to comment on whether they think the plan is 'legally compliant'. 

You should consider the following before making comments on legal compliance:

The Local Plan should be included in the current Local Development Scheme (LDS) and the key stages should have been followed.

The process of community involvement for the Local Plan should be in general accordance with the LPA’s Statement of Community Involvement (SCI).

The Plan should comply with the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 (the Regulations).

The LPA is required to provide a Sustainability Appraisal (SA) when it publishes a plan. This should identify the process by which the SA has been carried out, the baseline information used to inform the process, and the outcomes of that process.

Duty to Co-operate

>> The duty to co-operate came into force on 15 November 2011 and any plan submitted for examination on or after this date will be examined for compliance. LPAs will be expected to provide evidence of how they have complied with any requirements arising from that duty.

The plan sets out the scale of housing and employment floorspace we are looking to deliver over the plan period.


Standard methodology for calculating housing need is set out in National Planning Practice Guidance. This should be used unless except exceptional circumstances justify an alternative approach.

No exceptional circumstances have been identified to justify deviation from the standard methodology in GMSF 2020.

GMSF 2020 is planning for 10,534 new homes a year which amounts to a total of 179,078 homes by 2037.


In terms of economic growth, there is no equivalent methodology set out in planning policy.  Our approach is based on the economic forecasting work that underpins wider Greater Manchester strategies. Work has been undertaken to assess whether there is sufficient evidence to inform an alternative forecast, however at the moment the conclusion is, that there is not.


GMSF is not being prepared in isolation. The 2040 Transport Strategy Delivery Plan, published alongside the GMSF, sets out all the transport projects we hope to achieve in the next five years. All new development will either be sustainably integrated into the existing transport network – so that we don’t overload our existing roads and public transport – or be linked by new infrastructure. We will be delivering more than 65 transport projects in the next five years, including the Bee Network – 1,800 miles of fully joined-up walking and cycling routes.

As well as the GMSF, our consultation on the Clean Air Plan (Open until Thursday, 3 December 2020) will seek views on how Greater Manchester plans to tackle the harmful air pollution which contributes to around 1,200 early deaths in Greater Manchester every year, damaging our health and our economy. 

What does the plan say about the environment?

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the way we live, and will continue to impact everyone’s lives as we learn to live with Covid in advance of a successful vaccine. As we seek to rebuild our economy, there is an unprecedented opportunity to do so in a way which does not forfeit the environmental improvements seen over recent months by building back better to tackle our climate emergency and build a fairer, greener society. GMSF 2020 is one of the strategies that Greater Manchester needs if it is to become a carbon neutral city-region by 2038 – 12 years ahead of the UK target.

GMSF 2020 will require all new development to be net zero carbon by 2028 – we do not want to build homes and workplaces which require expensive retrofitting in the future.

To reach our target, 96% of the cars on the road by 2038 will need to be electric. GMSF 2020 will require new development to provide EV charging points to support this transition. 

The GMSF 2020 identifies a Green Infrastructure Network for Greater Manchester and not only provides protection but also seeks to enhance it – the plan is seeking an overall gain in biodiversity.

GMSF 2020 continues its approach to keep fossil fuels in the ground –hydraulic fracturing (fracking) will not be supported.

What type of land are we building on?

GMSF 2020 has a ‘brownfield preference’ policy, and we’re doing all we can to bring forward our brownfield sites in the early stages of the plan period. Government has recently outlined a range of measures to support development, including the Brownfield Land Fund to help address viability issues and Greater Manchester has received £81m. This is welcome but it is not enough on its own to address the viability issues we face and further support will be required.

Land supply identified for development in the plan is predominantly in the urban area - 90% of the land identified for housing, 99% for offices and just under 50% for industry and warehousing – and most of this is brownfield.

What about the Green Belt?

There is a lack of sufficient urban land to meet all of our housing and employment needs. On this basis, there are strategic exceptional circumstances for releasing some Green Belt land.

Green Belt release has been kept to a minimum, and is targeted in areas that will help us meet our overall vision for sustainable and beneficial growth.

Release of greenbelt has not been proposed lightly, and any release is accompanied by evidence as to how we can improve and enhance the remaining Green belt and green infrastructure elsewhere.

The net loss of Green Belt has been reduced by 60%  since 2016 through:

  • reducing the number of proposed sites
  • reducing the loss of Green Belt within sites
  • proposing ‘new’ Green Belt additions

The Greater Manchester Green Belt currently accounts for 46.7% of Greater Manchester’s overall land area. These new proposals would result in a figure of 45.1%.

This plan sets out the strategic planning policy framework for the whole of the city-region. More detailed policies and local matters are dealt with in the local plans across Greater Manchester. The Greater Manchester plan will not cover everything that a local plan would cover and districts will continue to produce their own plans.

Involving local people, organisations and businesses is an important part of the planning process.

The consultation will run from 1 December and runs for 8 weeks, ending on 26 January 2021.

However, the plan and evidence is available to read now, so people have around 14 weeks to familiarise themselves with the evidence and submit a response. 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and to help people stay as safe as possible we are urging people to respond online. 

The consultation is open for 8 weeks from 1 December and runs for 8 weeks, ending on 26 January 2021.

However, supporting documents and the draft plan going to committee prior to consultation, have now been published. People will have around 14 weeks to view and familiarise themselves with the content before submitting responses.

Unfortunately it is not possible for us to accept any comments received outside of the formal consultation period.

The Government outlines the terms of the consultation and requires a minimum of 6 weeks. However, we understand that this is a detailed and lengthy document and want to make sure that everyone has the chance to read it and respond properly.

The evidence base we are consulting on will be available well in advance of the consultation. TThis will mean people will have sufficient time to view and familiarise themselves with the content before submitting responses.

Unfortunately, we can't accept anonymous consultation responses. In order for us to consider your comments as part of the formal planning process, we need to be able to contact you - just your name and an email address is enough.

Please don't respond more than once. If you respond online, you don't also need to send something through the post, and vice-versa. During analysis of the feedback we will be checking for duplicate responses and removing these.

At the end of the final consultation phase, the plan will be prepared for submission to the Secretary of State next year. Following a public examination and approval by the Secretary of State, the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework would be ready for adoption by 2022.