GMSF FAQs: Green Belt

What is the Green Belt?

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The term ‘Green Belt’ describes what the land is there to do (prevent urban sprawl), not what it looks like. You can find both brownfield and greenfield sites within the Green Belt, which is not always the lush, green fields people tend to think of.

This is why the term Green Belt should not be confused with greenfield and greenspace – you can have greenfield sites in urban areas, and you can have brownfield sites within the Green Belt.

Development on Green Belt land is restricted by National Policy as set out in the National Planning Framework (NPPF). Greater Manchester’s current Green Belt land was designated in 1984.

Why do we need to use land within the Green Belt for development? Why not leave it alone?

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We have a legal duty to provide homes for people to meet the need in the plan period to 2037. This is only possible through some use of land which is currently in the Green Belt. We are focusing our attention on urban areas and, where possible, taking a brownfield first approach.

If we didn’t consider land in the Green Belt then we would not have sufficient land to meet the need. This would put Greater Manchester in a weaker position in managing the location of new development.

Our current Green Belt land was designated in 1984, when our population was much lower. It was supposed to have been reviewed back in the early nineties, but this didn’t happen. It is therefore necessary to review the boundary through the GMSF.

Green Belt sites will only be used where absolutely necessary and by allocating specific sites we can use our planning policies to ensure they provide the right homes, jobs and infrastructure needed. Without a plan, Greater Manchester will be vulnerable to ad hoc developments delivered in an uncoordinated manner with little consideration for infrastructure.

Development in the Green Belt will be dependent on the appropriate infrastructure being provided and Green Belt policy will continue to apply for uses other than those outlined in the allocation policies.

This is why agreeing this plan is important. Through it we can allocate potential sites in a way that brings maximum benefits to Trafford and across Greater Manchester.

How is Greater Manchester’s Green Belt changing?

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We’ve ensured there is an overall reduction in proposed Green Belt release of more than 50% by removing some areas that had been earmarked for development in the Draft GMSF 2016 and also giving protection to other green spaces by adding them to the Green Belt.

In 2016, approximately 8.2% of the Green Belt was proposed for release for potential development. In this plan it is 4.1%.

Currently 47% of Greater Manchester’s total area is designated as Green Belt. Under the proposals in the Draft GMSF 2019 this will reduce to 45%.

How is Trafford’s Green Belt changing?

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The Green Belt boundary around Trafford is very tightly drawn around the urban area. The GMSF proposes to release enough Green Belt in Trafford to meet the shortfall against our housing and employments.

Currently 3,975 hectares of Trafford is in the Green Belt, 37.6% of the total area of Trafford. After the proposed removal of land from the Green Belt for development 34.3% of Trafford will still be in the Green Belt, a loss of 3%, compared with the 4% loss proposed in the 2016 draft GMSF.

 The   current size of the Green Belt in hectaresSize of Green   Belt after proposed changes in hectaresProposed net   change in Green Belt size in hectares

Trafford GMSF 2019



- 352

Trafford GMSF 2016



- 451

Is Trafford proposing to add any sites to the Green Belt?

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Appendix A of the GMSF shows the proposed additions to the Green Belt for each of the ten districts. In Trafford there is one proposed addition of 2.71 hectares which is ‘Land South of Partington’ as shown on the map below. The land is north of Moss Lane around Land Ends Farm and adjoins the proposed New Carrington allocation.   

What is Safeguarded Land?

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This is land that national policy says local authorities can identify to meet longer-term development needs stretching well beyond the plan period. This land is treated in a similar way to Green Belt except that its protection is not necessarily guaranteed beyond the plan period. Safeguarded Land ensures the protection of Green Belt within the longer time-scale by reserving land which may be required to meet longer-term development needs.

Is any Safeguarded Land proposed in Trafford?

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An area of Safeguarded Land has been identified at New Carrington (see map below); this is for development beyond the plan period and will only come forward in advance of this if there is an identified housing supply shortfall.

Safeguarded land is also identified to the south of Timperley Wedge (see map below) for future development which will help meet the development aspirations set out in the Greater Manchester HS2 Growth Strategy. The release of this land is dependent on the arrival of HS2 and until that time Green Belt policies will continue to apply.

What have we done since the 2016 plan in order to reduce the loss of Green Belt in Trafford?

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We have done a lot of work on making the most of the existing urban area by increasing densities and finding new sites. This has been done across Greater Manchester.

In Trafford, Land at Flixton Station is no longer proposed for allocation and will not be removed from the Green Belt.

Slightly less land is proposed for removal from the Green Belt at both the New Carrington and Timperley Wedge allocations. This is as a result of various considerations including consultation with landowners / residents, amenity, heritage impacts and a more detailed assessment of the role of the Green Belt at these locations. Green Belt loss has also been minimised by increasing densities around the proposed new local centres and setting a minimum average density across the sites.


You can download a PDF of these Frequently Asked Questions