PARTY leaders in Bolton have had their say on the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework which is set to see the public asked again their opinions on housing policy and proposed huge new industrial developments in the borough.

The plan, designed to deliver 26.5M sq ft of new commercial floorspace and 201,000 new homes throughout the city region by 2037, has seen six years of on-off preparation.

After months of inactivity, the GMSF is now set to return for another round of consultation, if approved by council bosses throughout the city area.

The executives of all 10 councils are being asked to approve the ‘ final stage of public consultation’ this month.

A special council meeting in Bolton later this month will discuss the plans.

The GMSF showed no green land being used to build around 13,940 homes in Bolton.

From 2024 to 2037 the target for the number of new homes built in the borough would be around 800 per year, a significant increase on the current 520 per annum target.

Bolton Council leader David Greenhalgh has said the authority was in support of the GMSF.

He said: “We are still supportive of the latest draft because we still think Bolton has a very good deal going forward compared to other local authorities.”

However, Liberal Democrat leader in Bolton, Roger Hayes, called the plans ‘nonsensical’.

He said: “Greater Manchester councils are proposing to consult with the public over a seven week period which includes Christmas and is in the middle of a pandemic.

“We do need more homes, the high quality and affordable homes that people need, but absolutely must not lose our precious green spaces.

“We will certainly be voting against it.

“I only hope enough other councillors see how nonsensical it is and make sure Bolton Council rejects it.”

Labour leader Nick Peel, said his group supported the framework, which was largely developed when his party was in control in Bolton.

He said: “It’s a good deal for Bolton and gives a net increase in green belt land.

“We need more commercial space and we want to encourage as many firms as possible to locate here.”

In terms of commercial and industrial development in Bolton borough, the two largest sites in the plan are in the Westhoughton area.

Land west of Wingates could provide a location for around 440,000sqm of floorspace for large scale distribution and advanced manufacturing.

That project would include a link road from the A6 to Westhoughton.

Chequerbent North, a green field site very close to the M61 junction would provide a location for around 25,000sqm of floorspace.

It would be accessed from the A6, with a potential additional access via Snydale Way.

If all 10 councils agree to a new timetable in the next few weeks, public consultation should start in November.