Area Development Manager for Greater Manchester, Robert Downes, said: “This is a plan of immense size and scale, and it will take time to fully understand what’s being proposed. Initial observations are though, that this is a promising outline of what GM could look like for future generations when it comes to work, rest and play.
“But it’s also quite clear key to this plan being a success will be the timing of its delivery – it’s very much a chicken and egg situation. Building so many new homes and creating dozens of new employment sites – which should all be designed and built to far higher environmental standards in keeping with the Mayor’s carbon neutral aspirations – will have to be done in step with massive investment in local infrastructure.
“Road and rail are the obvious ones, but in a swathe of other areas too such as new schools, digital infrastructure, and utilities. That’ll be tricky for many reasons, not least because it could cause massive disruption across the entire region if projects become jumbled or delivered late. We only have to look back over the past few years in GM to see how areas came to a standstill because of poorly planned roadworks delivered behind schedule. Communication between the various stakeholders will be paramount.
“Obviously the end prize is for a far more competitive Greater Manchester, in a world-class city region that’ll be the jewel of the north. But there’s a massive journey ahead of us, so expect some bumps along the way – starting with the debate over erosion of greenbelt.
“To deliver a truly world class city ranking, decision makers need to find an effective way to transform infrastructure that has its roots cast in Victorian times, and make it future-proof without destroying the considerable heritage the city draws upon. Major challenges therefore lie ahead in ensuring Metrolink is rolled out to all areas of GM, especially as we move towards an era where the use of traditional modes of transport will be punished. The Clean Air Zones were glossed over yesterday but businesses are understandably nervous about the implications of pollution charging coming to GM with public transport piecemeal and badly wanting.
“The city needs also needs to find an optimum balance between work, community, public space and amenities to ensure that the home of the industrial revolution successfully re-invents itself to meet tomorrow's challenges, such as the pledge to become carbon-neutral by 2038.”