Petition Response

Readers may recall I presented to Parliament the petition about the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework which many local residents had signed.

I have now received the official government response which I have set out below. As one might expect it summarises what the present legal position and current policy is and encourages petitioners to continue to engage in the process which I have no doubt people will do.

The following is the petition and the official response:

​Declares that the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework should avoid large-scale residential development on the greenbelt, which is a valuable barrier to urban sprawl and is hugely valued by local people; and further declares that brownfield land should be prioritised for residential development provided that proper infrastructure is in place.

​The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Department for Communities and Local Government to make such provisions in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

​And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr David Nuttall , Official Report, 13 December 2016; Vol. 618, c. 763 .]
[P001994]

​Observations from The Minister for Housing and Planning, (Gavin Barwell):

​Green Belts are created by local authorities, who are expected to protect them in line with policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. The Framework states that a Green Belt boundary can be altered only in exceptional circumstances, using the Local Plan process of public consultation followed by examination in public of the draft Plan.

​Local authorities, working with their communities, are responsible for determining the best location for the new homes needed in the area. The Framework recognises that, in exceptional circumstances, a local authority may find it necessary to review the extent of its Green Belt. In the Housing White Paper, Fixing our broken housing market, the Government reaffirmed their commitment to Green Belt protection, but also proposed a strengthening of the test of the exceptional circumstances in which Green Belt boundaries can be adjusted. This proposal is that local authorities should amend Green Belt boundaries only when they can demonstrate that they have examined fully all other reasonable options for meeting their identified development requirements, and that any impact of removing the land from Green Belt should be offset by improvements to the environmental quality or accessibility of the remaining Green Belt land.

​When any Green Belt alteration is proposed, the revised draft Plan with the supporting evidence is submitted for examination by a planning inspector. The inspector, who exercises independent judgement in the name of the Secretary of State, will consider whether the draft Plan is sound. A Plan will be found sound only if it is properly prepared, justified, effective and consistent with policy in the Framework.

​The Framework encourages the re-use of brownfield land, if not of high environmental value. Brownfield sites differ greatly, and local authorities are best placed to assess their suitability, viability and availability. If desired locally, a local authority may consider having its own Plan policy to increase the take-up and prioritisation of brownfield sites.

​To support development of brownfield land, the Government have accelerated disposal of public sector brownfield suitable for housing, and extended permitted development to give new life to thousands of under-used buildings. We are also introducing Brownfield Registers and Permission in principle. Brownfield Registers will provide up-to-date accessible information on the brownfield sites suitable for housing in each local authority area, giving developers, communities and investors more certainty about the potential of these sites. Permission in principle will give certainty from the outset that the fundamental principles of redevelopment are acceptable. Moreover, the £3 billion Home Building Fund will provide loans for small and medium-sized building firms, custom builders and offsite construction, and help to make more land, much of it brownfield, available for new homes. An additional £1.2 billion will be available to enable starter homes to be created on brownfield land.

​I encourage the Petitioners to contribute to the preparation of Greater Manchester’s Spatial Framework for the period to 2035, and to support creation of a plan where growth can be accommodated sustainably.

Dr Janet Gray MBE

DJN and Janet Gray

Dr Janet Gray MBE presenting me with a copy of her book ‘Blind Ambition’

I enjoyed a tremendously inspirational speech from the four time World disabled water skiing champion yesterday evening. Despite being blind from the age of 21 Janet overcame her disability to become the best in the World. After suffering horrific and life threatening injuries during training Janet spent three years in treatment and rehabilitation to resume competition and once more become a Champion.

Janet was the guest speaker at an event organised by Bury Society for Blind and Partially Sighted People to thank their volunteers and mark their 95th anniversary. After her retirement from competitive sport Janet has been elected to her local City Council in her native Northern Ireland.

 

 

Bury Unitarian Church

Sue and I attended a special service yesterday to mark the installation of the new Minister at Bury Unitarian Church. Rev Kate McKenna who hails from Norwich has been with the church since last November but yesterday was her official installation service. The Mayor and his Consort were also in attendance. Whilst initially I did not recognise the words of the hymns I did recognise the tunes which made singing the hymns much easier! I trust Kate will have a long and happy association with Bury.

Kersal by-election

I guess it might not receive the national attention that the Parliamentary by-elections in Stoke-on-Trent Central and Copeland received last week but I see the Conservatives won a Council by-election last night. It was in Kersal Ward on Salford Council. I can claim no credit but I know several from Bury Conservatives went along to help in the campaign.

I had a long and useful meeting with representatives from the headteachers of Bury Secondary Schools yesterday when I was able to listen first hand to their concerns. I am very grateful to the Heads for attending and I will be ensuring their views are heard at the highest levels in the Department for Education.

Councillor Daly – New Group Leader

News from Bury Council Conservatives Group today as last night Councillor James Daly was elected as Leader of the Opposition on Bury Council. A couple of weeks ago the Leader for the past five years Councillor Iain Gartside surprised me at least  when he announced he was standing down as Leader. Iain has recently moved to a new job and felt it was the right time to step down. He will continue to serve the residents of Tottington Ward. Councillor Daly was previously Deputy Leader and his position as deputy Leader has now been filled by Elton Ward Councillor Mike Hankey. I wish them both well in their new roles.

Pennine Acute Hospitals

As The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust continues to make improvements following the very disappointing CQC report last year the new Chief Executive Sir David Dalton has announced a further £20.5 million is to be invested in frontline services from 2017-8. In addition to this £10 million will be spent on capital expenditure to improve North Manchester and Royal Oldham Hospitals.

The additional revenue resources will be used to recruit 35 more doctors and more than 300 more nursing and midwifery staff. There will be more money for IT, staff training and development. Plus more money for medical and clinical equipment. This together with revised governance and management arrangements will I hope mean that we can look forward to a much improved position the next time the CQC report on the Trust

End of IHAT

I know from the many letters I have had that the government’s decision to end the enquiries of the costly Iraq Historical Allegations Team will be widely welcomed. Our Armed Forces deserve our support and whilst of course individual allegations of misconduct will and indeed always have been investigated it is good that what has been described as a ‘witch hunt’ is now to be concluded.

Yesterday I had a typically varied day. With Parliament have risen for a half term recess I was back in the constituency. In addition to the usual casework emails and the like I gave an interview to someone who is undertaking the daunting task of trying to interview all MP’s. Then I attended a funeral of a friend who passed away at the end of January. Then, I finished the day by speaking at a dinner at the Asia Lounge marking Kashmir Martyrs Day.