Ultimately the GMSF will identify the land and policy direction for jobs and new homes up to 2037. As expected, the current draft contains an enhanced focus on widespread urban regeneration and is a direct echo of central government policy to maximise the use of previously developed land and deliver a significant uplift in residential density in city and town centre locations that are well served by public transport.
What’s required is a blueprint for economic growth, the regeneration of the region’s towns, transport solutions to enable ease of travel, and housing ideas to meet requirements in a speedy and affordable manner.
The draft achieves those aims, and to that extent is a successful rewrite of its immediate predecessor. However, it lacks vision in how Manchester might lead the way in being a green, sustainable and prosperous city, embracing the technological opportunities that can help satisfy the needs of the next 15-20 years.
How might we see our towns house more people in mixed-use buildings, combining, say, hotels, apartments, shops, offices, schools and hospitals? How might transport hubs be more utilised to provide a focus for social and commercial activities? How can we improve some of the under-invested residential areas and make them locations for new and exciting development that could transform perceptions and aspirations?
Delivering transformational growth will be a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and getting the right plan in place will be the key component if Greater Manchester is to deliver on its economic and housing growth ambitions.