Analysis of the North West of England Plan: Regional Spatial Strategy 2010 for Salford
Published by the Government Office of the North West. 2008.
The North West regional housing target is 416,000 new units. The region's population is approx 6.7million (Census, 2001). The North West is an area of 5469 square miles (14,165km2). On average the region is expected to build 76 new homes for every square mile.
Each local authority within the region is set allocation of this broader target. Clearly some authorities are bigger than others in terms of area and population. So Manchester, for example, is expected to provide 15% of the 416,000 units - around 62,000 new homes, which will be quite of challenge given that Manchester is already relatively built up and has little space in which to expand.
But what are the implications for Salford?
Table 1: Greater Manchester Housing Targets
Housing target as % of NW total
No. of units
% of NW
Table 1 shows the housing targets identified in the Regional Spatial Strategy for Greater Manchester. The data is ranked according to size of the targets. Salford is ranked 2nd after Manchester, as the city is expected to provide 7% new units to be constructed in the North West. This equates to 28,800 new properties to be constructed within Salford's boundaries. In other words – Salford with just 3% of the region's population plans to build 7% of the region's houses!
Several important questions emerge from this:
- What is the justification of this whopping target? Comparable local authorities have been allocated much lower targets. Oldham, for example, has almost an identical population, but its target is just 4000. So why is Salford required to build over 24,000 more new homes than Oldham?
- Where are these homes to be built in Salford? Salford is an area of just 37.5 sq miles. To meet its target Salford will need to provide 768 homes per square mile. However, Chat Moss takes up 10.6 sq miles, almost a third of the city's area. If we take this out of the equation, then Salford will need to build 1071 homes per square. This is probably not feasible, and hence the pressure to release green fields for development.
But, the stated policy is to concentrate new housing in the inner city on empty brownfield sites or redeveloping existing houses. The regional strategy asks local government not to convert open space or green space:
But if Salford is meet its target, inevitably this will put undue pressure on the release of green belt land for housing development. This is preferred option of private sector developers, who in the most part oare unwilling to risk the expense of converting brownfield sites into habitable land. Its much cheaper and profitable to build new homes in empty fields.
“Manchester / Salford and Liverpool / Knowsley – provision of sufficient new residential development to support the role of the Regional Centres and inner city areas, including those parts involved in the Government’s Housing Market Renewal Programme’s Pathfinder Initiative (including replacement and renewal of housing stock), as priority areas for economic growth and regeneration. Outside the inner city areas, development should be complementary to the regeneration of the inner core, and be focused on regenerating existing housing areas which suffer from high levels of deprivation” (emphasis added). Section 7.18. Part a. Page 63.
- We need an explanation and justification of the 28,800 target figure? Given the demographic trends of the region and the city, I would suggest the target for Salford needs to be a lot lower to bring it into comparison with similar local authorities.
- Why are there planing applications already going in to construct houses on green fields, when there is an abundance of empty land and empty existing properties within the city? A thorough survey of the existing housing stock and availability of brownfield sites for housing development either needs to be completed or made public before any construction begins on greenbelt, farmland or unmanaged open space.