Controversial housing and jobs plan will return to a public consultation

A town hall protest about the GMSF earlier this year
A town hall protest about the GMSF earlier this year

A controversial housing and jobs plan with several sites across Wigan borough will be subject to public scrutiny in September, the Observer understands.

The consultation for the first draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) recently closed as residents joined a host of prominent political figures calling for a drastic re-think.

Representations are now being considered by combined authority bosses who will create a second draft.

A 12-week consultation has been earmarked to start in September at which point the plan will require approval from all 10 GM council chambers.

Wigan borough opposition councillors attempted to trigger a discussion at this month’s full chamber meeting but were assured they would get a chance to voice their views later in the year.

It appears likely therefore that the crucial vote will take place at either the meeting of September 6 or, following the conclusion of the second consultation, on November 1.

The second draft of the plan would then be submitted, along with any modifications proposed by the individual town halls, to the Secretary of State.

This could then be followed in 2018 with independent examination of each site with the possibility of individual hearing sessions for controversial locations.

Officers are therefore expecting that the GMSF, whichever form the final draft will take, will not be adopted before 2019.

The over-arching proposal requires approval from each town hall and the vote of the newly-installed GM mayor will also have an influence on shaping the project.

In Wigan borough, several housing and industrial sites have been proposed, said to create 25,000 homes and 15,000 jobs. However, the plan overall has been criticised for developing green belt land and concerns have been raised about its impact on the environment.

Councillors were this month greeted at the town hall by residents’ groups protesting about the plans.