I can assure you that I understand and share concerns regarding planning policy. Indeed, that is why I welcome that the proposed revisions to the NPPF, which the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has publicly welcomed, address these concerns.
I am delighted that the revised NPPF gives further clarification to the existing strong protections for the Green Belt. It sets out the steps which a local planning authority must take before concluding that "exceptional circumstances" exist to allow boundaries of the Green Belt to be altered and so I am pleased that the revised NPPF reaffirms protections for areas of outstanding national beauty and national parks.
The draft NPPF will also introduce a new standardised approach to assessing housing need which help to ensure that new homes are delivered in areas of high demand. I am also pleased that the revised NPPF sets out the need to prioritise the use of brownfield land and the importance of delivering more affordable housing. Like the CPRE, therefore, I welcome that the draft NPPF clarifies the primacy of local and neighbourhood plan policies in determining planning applications.
In addition, The Campaign to Protect Rural England's have launched a report which analysed the potential of brownfield land for housing. After examining the recently published brownfield registers from across the UK, the report found that there is enough space on brownfield land to build at least one million new homes, with more than two-thirds of these homes deliverable within the next five years.
I firmly believe that the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF), published in 2016, focuses too little on brownfield land and too much on development on the green belt, given that over 12,000 homes are proposed on green belt land across the borough of Stockport alone and of these, 8,100 are proposed in our constituency of Cheadle.
I do not believe this uniform approach is the appropriate way to build a sustainable housing programme for the Greater Manchester region. Greater Manchester has 1,000 hectares of underdeveloped brownfield land, across 400 sites, that has not been earmarked for use and this land has the potential to provide 55,000 homes.
I strongly support the fact that councils have a duty to cooperate with bordering authorities under the Localism Act. Indeed, Stockport Council have argued that by calculating housing need at the Greater Manchester level, over a 20 year period there could be 18,720 fewer homes built on the green belt than under GMSF. Given the new powers invested in the Mayor and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), I believe there is scope for all 10 local authorities to work together and assess housing needs on a cross border basis.
I do, however, welcome the Government's recent investment of £300 million across the country as part of the Housing Infrastructure Fund. £68 million of this funding has been allocated to Greater Manchester to support a focus on developing brownfield land for housing and crucially, getting more homes built on small sites. This includes the Government's support for the SEMMMS Bus Rapid Transport Scheme bid, which has been taken forward for co-development and if successful will support the delivery of bridge and road infrastructure to enable 3,600 homes to be built.