Release of green belt land

Your questions answered

How much green belt land is needed?

  • The vast majority of the housing and employment targets for GM will be delivered on brownfield land (around 72%)
  • However, additional land is needed to accommodate around 65,000 new homes and over 1.5 million square metres in Greater Manchester, the only way that this need can be met is on green belt land
  • Currently, around 47% of Greater Manchester is made up of green belt land
  • The proposed release of strategic sites would result in this falling to 43% (4% fall)
  • This level of green belt coverage is much higher than Greater London (22%) and Birmingham (15%).  

How much green belt land is needed in Bury?

  • The green belt boundary around Bury is very tightly drawn and the borough has a relatively low supply of brownfield land within the urban area
  • The GMSF proposes to release sufficient green belt in Bury to accommodate around 8,000 new homes and to provide much needed quality employment land that will attract significant investment and create job opportunities
  • Bury would retain 47% of its land area as green belt land and would remain one of the districts with the highest green belt coverage in Greater Manchester (behind only Rochdale, Wigan and Bolton).
  • Bury also has huge swathes of other greenfield land, including land that is designated as River Valley land and protected recreation land. These other areas equate to around 6% of the borough's land (meaning that around 53% of the Borough would remain protected under the proposals).

Will all the land being released from the green belt be developed on?

  • Not all of the land released from the green belt will be developed.
  • Some of the land being removed from the green belt is also protected for other purposes, such as recreation land, and much of this land will be need to be retained as such
  • Land will also need to be set aside within the sites for a rage of features, including new recreation land, ecological purposes or to mitigate for flood risk, for example
  • Additionally, some of the land within the sites will be undevelopable, because of topography or presence of water bodies (e.g. Elton Reservoir or Pilsworth fisheries) for example. Whilst these areas cannot be developed on, they need to be removed from the green belt as they are part of much wider areas and it would not be logical to retain their green belt status in isolation
  • Some of the areas have existing developments (e.g. houses, agricultural, commercial properties etc) within them and these may be retained as part any future developments, depending on the wishes of landowners and the masterplanning of the sites
  • The next stages of the GMSF will seek to ensure that sites that are being released from the green belt are masterplanned to give an indication of how much actual land will be developed on
  • It is also worth noting that some of the land that is proposed to be released from the green belt is currently made up of brownfield land and motorways - (e.g. one of the proposed sites in Bury at Seedfield is largely a brownfield site with former school buildings on it). Not all of the areas are undeveloped green fields

Consultation now closed

Formal consultation on the first draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework has now ended. The consultation period ran from 31 October 2016 to 16 January 2017.

All comments received during this period will be considered and used to inform how the plan is taken forward.

If you would like to know more about the GMSF or would like to register an interest in receiving further information and updates about the GMSF as they become available, you can do so at Greater Manchester Combined Authority - Greater Manchester Spatial Framework or by emailing


Strategic Planning and Economic Development