Green Belt Update

Councillors - Ian Bevan and Rob Hodkinson

Councillors – Ian Bevan and Rob Hodkinson

More than 12,000 new homes could be built across Bury under a new plan for Greater Manchester.  In addition, it is proposed that various sites (including a site off Junction 1 of the M66 at Ramsbottom, and a major site near Pilsworth covering an area bigger than Trafford Park), will be used for new businesses.

This is just one of the proposals that are to be considered by Bury Council (and the nine other Greater Manchester councils).

The “Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF)” will act as guidance for planning committees across Greater Manchester (including Bury) when considering planning applications for employment and housing for the next 20 years or so.

It also involves redrawing the Green Belt boundaries across Bury and the rest of Greater Manchester.

It has been drafted by the Labour-run Greater Manchester Combined Authority – which comprises the Leaders of the 10 Greater Manchester Councils (9 of which are Labour, and 1 Conservative) – and the Interim Mayor of Greater Manchester – former Labour MP, Tony Lloyd.

By way of background, the ten councils have worked together voluntarily for many years on issues like transport, regeneration, and attracting investment.  This relationship was formalised in 2011, with the formation of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). They have their own budget and employ staff to run the organisation which will be headed by the Mayor of Greater Manchester (to be elected in May 2017).

This draft plan was considered by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority on 28 October 2016, and they approved an eight-week consultation period from 31 October 2016 to 23 December 2016.

Views submitted by residents will be considered and a second (final) draft will be published in June 2017 when another period of consultation will be held.

As part of the consultation, Bury Council will be holding a ‘drop-in’ session at the Elizabethan Suite, Bury Town Hall, on Monday 21 November  2016 (12-7pm) where the plans will be on show.

view from our house

Plans to remove around 500 hectares of land from the Green Belt so that they can be developed, including several sites in Ramsbottom, have been shelved by the GMCA.

Those sites included much loved green spaces at:

  • Fletcher Bank Quarry,
  • Church Fields (adjacent to St Andrews Church),
  • Land at Junction 1 M66 – Higher Walmersley
  • Land off Bury New Road,
  • Land between Dundee Lane and Heapworth Avenue
  • Land to the rear of Heatherside Road,
  • Land to the rear of Spring Street in Shuttleworth,
  • Ripon Hall Avenue, and
  • Redisher.


However, we anticipate that the owners / developers of these sites will strenuously object and seek to have them included in the second (final) draft of the GMSF document as sites suitable for development.

Other sites across the Borough of Bury are also set to be removed from the Green Belt and re-zoned as suitable for development.  However, not all of the employment land or 12,000 homes will be built immediately. Individual planning applications will still have to considered and approved by Bury Council’s planning committee over the next few years, although by re-zoning the land, opposition will be weakened as the land will not be in the Green Belt.


The largest of the sites proposed is the land around Elton Reservoir, where some 3,500 new homes are proposed. Large schemes are also proposed in Walshaw (1,250 homes) and Simister.

100 homes are also planned near Holcombe Brook Tennis / Sports Club together with 60 homes at Higher Walmersley / Bevis Green.

The main proposed employment sites:

The largest site that is proposed to be released from the Green Belt in Bury is on the eastern side of the M66 at Pilsworth, which is proposed to be a new employment site creating around 1,580,000m2 of floorspace, larger in size than Trafford Park.

In addition, a site at Junction 1 of the M66 at Ramsbottom (Gin Hall at Higher Walmersley) would also be used for 32,000 sq.m. of industrial and warehousing floorspace.


Our View:

Bury’s Conservative Councillors have consistently said that we want to prioritise the development of brownfield land and get our borough’s vacant sites developed.

2,200 homes could be built on land where planning permission has already been granted, and a further 3,000 on brownfield sites across Bury.

However, Bury’s Labour-run Council seems intent on destroying the Green Belt around Bury.  65% of the proposed housing and employment sites in Bury are in the Green Belt.

David Nuttall, Conservative MP for Bury North (including Ramsbottom) said:

There are major concerns that the plan would allow development on the green belt – and even where land is not green belt, on land which is often the last green space in an area. There are concerns about all the sites in Bury North. We have been campaigning on the Walshaw site for some time and there is a lot of local opposition.

The same applies to the proposed industrial development at Gin Hall, Walmersley.

Green belt was designated as such for a reason and it defeats the object of having green belt if it is then built on.”


The draft GMSF plan and supporting documents are available to view here:

Sign up to receive further details and make comment: –

Bury Council will be holding a ‘drop-in’ session at the Elizabethan Suite, Bury Town Hall, on Monday 21 November (12-7pm) where the plans will be on show.

Please also let us know your views as soon as possible so that we can feed them back to the GMSF team: