THE man who could soon rule Greater Manchester said he will have the power to ‘substantially re-write’ the controversial spatial framework building plan — and fully intends to.

Andy Burnham, Labour’s candidate for May’s Greater Manchester Mayoral elections has confirmed that whoever is elected to the position will inherit the spatial framework plan for housing and development across the conurbation over the next 20 years.

And he said that if he wins in May, he intends to make major changes to a plan drafted by the 10 borough council leaders, which has led to major objections about impact on the green belt.

Speaking exclusively to The Bolton News, Mr Burnham said: “If I’m elected in May, the power would basically fall to me to write this document and put forward the plan to the combined authority.

“Now, leaders of the councils would have the ability to veto what I propose so it is important to work together to come up with a compromise, but it would be very much my document and I am making it clear that I would re-write it and re-write it quite substantially to take on board the concerns that we have heard through the consultation.”

Public consultation has closed on the initial spatial framework plan, which could see 16,400 homes built in Bolton before 2035 — including 7,000 on green sites.

It is the impact on the green belt that most concerns the Leigh MP. He said: “At the moment (the framework) is far too focused on building on green fields and not looking enough at revitalising the areas that have gone into decline.

“I don’t think this is the right plan for Greater Manchester, it is also too focused on larger homes for owner occupation and not enough on affordable housing.

“Our aim in the next 20 years should be to solve the housing crisis given to us by Westminster, what we are short of is all types of homes, affordable homes to rent, affordable homes to own, smaller homes, rent to own homes and at the moment that balance is not in the spatial framework, its overly focussed on a certain type of property.

“I support the ambitions that the combined authority and the leaders have set out, particularly around the number of houses we need to build, there is no getting around the fact we need houses.

“I do think it needs a major re-think to get the balance right and refocus on existing brownfield — I want a substantial reduction in the take from the green belt.”

The Labour MP is also unhappy with the plans for industrial development contained within the spatial framework, suggesting that another approach is needed.

He said: “But its also not ambitious enough in terms of industry, it is all focusing on warehousing and distribution, whereas I think it should focus on high quality 21st century industries like renewable energy and Bolton could have a role in that.”

He is not the only local Labour MP to have formally opposed the draft spatial framework plan. Bolton North East MP Sir David Crausby previously submitted his own objections to the Bolton portion of the framework plan, labelling Bolton Council’s proposals as ‘tremendously confusing.’

He was particularly unhappy with an unspecified plan to create about 3,000 houses in the north of the borough, for which no particular plots of land have been identified.

Residents and politicians in Westhoughton and the west of Bolton are also unhappy with the amount of green land that could be swallowed up for housing in their local area if the draft plan is agreed.

There are proposals to build around 1,700 homes on land near Chequerbent as well as a further 1,000 plus properties as part of a scheme to redevelop the Hulton Park Estate.

Finally, an industrial scheme has been suggested for more green land close to the M61 motorway.

Mr Burnham’s tough stance may put him on a collision course with the 10 borough leaders he will be working with if he is elected.

All 10 — including Bolton Council leader Cliff Morris — have agreed the draft plan in its current form although input from residents during the public consultation is expected to be taken into account.

The first Greater Manchester Mayoral Elections will be on Thursday May 4 and see Mr Burnham take on Sean Anstee (Conservative), Jane Brophy (Liberal Democrat), Shneur Odze (UKIP) and Stephen Morris (English Democrat) who are all vying for the powerful new role.

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