THE long-awaited revised plan that could shape Greater Manchester for years to come has now been published. JOSEPH TIMAN reports on what this means for homes and jobs in Bolton.

NO green belt land will be used to build the 13,940 homes in the borough according to the latest draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

Council chiefs have allocated all sites to be used for housing until 2037 in urban areas, saving more than half of the green belt land original proposed for development.

Three green belt sites have been marked down for industrial development, including a five-hectare extension of Logistics North which did not feature in the first draft.

The authority is also proposing to reclassify two new sites as green belt land – Horwich Golf Course and Ditchers Farm in Westhoughton.

If approved, this would provide additional protection to these two sites which developers have previously tried to build on.

This includes an application for 300 homes at Horwich Golf Course which was rejected by Bolton Council but has been appealed by the developer.

New housing originally proposed at green belt sites and protected open land, such as Hulton Park, Bowlands Hey and Lee Hall, have been removed.

This takes the net loss of green belt land down to under two per cent, compared to the previous proposal which would have seen Bolton lose 5.3 per cent.

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Greater Manchester’s vision for homes, jobs and the environment was first drafted in 2016 before the newly-elected mayor Andy Burnham ordered a “radical rewrite” of the plans.

This followed 27,000 responses to the first draft with many criticising the amount of green belt land which had been earmarked for housing development.

Council leader Linda Thomas said: “A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes for us to get to this stage with the plan. We have listened to the responses and concerns raised locally and we are doing everything we can to protect the green belt, which we know is really important for our residents.

“This plan will not touch the green belt for housing in our town. In fact, some sites will now be put into green belt to protect them from unwanted development.”

The original plan proposed building 16,800 new homes contributing to a Greater Manchester figure of 227,000 houses.

Since then, the government proposed changing the new formula used to calculate housing need which caused some confusion over the number of houses required in the city-region.

The regional target has now fallen by 26,000, based on the latest government advice, taking Bolton’s contribution down by 17 per cent.

Cllr Martin Donaghy: “This has been a bit of a bumpy road. We didn’t know quite where we were because the government changes to the formula.

“I’d like to pay a tribute to the officers who have worked extremely hard to get us to this place.”

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In addition to house building, the spatial framework sets out where major industrial sites could be built.

The council has allocated 830,000 sq m of industrial and warehousing floorspace, half of which will be in the urban area, contributing towards the region’s 4.82 million sq m target.

Two green belt sites, at Chequerbent and Wingates, which were originally proposed for industrial development have remained in the latest draft.

Since the previous proposal, the company behind Logistics North has submitted an application to build a new industrial estate on part of the land west of Wingates allocated in the revised plan.

Additional green belt land has been allocated for an extension to the Over Hulton industrial estate, meaning thousands of jobs could be created across all three sites.

Cllr Donaghy said: “A healthy economy is vital for our town to create new jobs for our residents. We know developers require land of a certain type and size and we have done everything we can to minimise using green belt sites.

“I’m confident, as executive cabinet member for housing, that this is the best plan going forward and this is a robust plan. What I want to see is this plan approved so we can get on with the job. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t succeed. I just want to get on with it now.”

Subject to approval at a Greater Manchester Combined Authority meeting on January 11, an eight-week public consultation will start on January 21 before which people can view the plan and all supporting documents online.