Greater Manchester planning policy to enshrine environmental net gain

Greater Manchester's draft planning policy is being "radically rewritten" to include environmental net gain, promote brownfield development and protect more green belt.

Daniel Nisbet, Manchester, UK - Manchester from the Sky
Daniel Nisbet, Manchester, UK - Manchester from the Sky

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s strategic plan for infrastructure and the environment out to 2040 will be formally published on Friday but has been trailed by Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and leaders of the participating councils.

The new plan will favour an environmental net gain approach through the development of "urban natural capital accounts", according to the combined authority. Greater Manchester is one of four areas picked by the government to pilot natural capital within its planning policies.

The area’s natural capital is calculated to be worth £24bn.

Under the draft plan, any new development within Greater Manchester should provide "a net benefit to the ecosystems services". The approach will be "implemented as rapidly as possible and applied to all development projects" according to the plans.

A new methodology will identify new natural capital funding streams to "integrate the outputs into investment decision making across Greater Manchester," according to the combined authority.

The new policy includes a shift away from developing Greater Manchester’s greenbelt with 15 greenbelt sites removed from the plan with the remaining 40 sites substantially reduced. .

Instead, the draft plan is pushing a "brownfield first" policy, including town centre sites.

Under the draft plan, new developments will also need to include sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) "wherever possible to provide increased green infrastructure, mitigation of surface water runoff and provide water quality improvement".

And by 2028, developments across the 10 districts will also need to be net-zero carbon, if the draft plan is approved.

The new planning framework presents "a radical re-write", according to Burnham. The first 2016 spatial framework consultation attracted over 27,000 responses but "hadn’t got the balance right", Burnham said.

The rewritten plan will be going out to public consultation on 21 January and will close on 18 March.

This report first appeared in HW sister brand, ENDS Report

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