Greater Manchester Spatial Framework

From 2017 planning decisions will be the responsibility of the Greater Manchester Combined Authorities (GMCA); consultations have been under way to identify possible sites for housing, industrial and infrastructure projects to 2035. The 10 local council planning authorities across Greater Manchester have signed up to the building of more housing as part of a regional growth strategy…

An exercise to identify and build a database of potential sites was initiated - this is not unusual, most planning rounds start with identifying and prioritising possible sites for development. The new Greater Manchester Land Commission will oversee how the public sector estate will be best used.

Second Draft Consultation (2019)

In January 2019 the second draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework was released, this had more focus on brownfield and town centre development. Green sites were removed and some alternative sites around Westhoughton proposed - Bewshill Farm (Over Hulton) (GMA4) extra land for Logistics North at Cutacre; employment land at Chequerbent North (GMA5) and West of Wingates/ M61 Junction 6 (GMA6). Sites at Bowlands Hey, Lee Hall and Hulton Park were all removed from second draft, however theses sites have successfully appealed housing applications (Hulton Park going to Public Enquiry in October).

Greater Manchester Spatial Framework - Bolton | January 2019

An eight-week consultation has begun ending 18th March. Information can be found here >>
Documents | Bolton Allocations | Overview | Consultation | GM Mapping.

First Draft (2016)

The call for sites exercise has brought forward the allocations viewable on the online zoomable map. The screenshot below is the Westhoughton area. Sites have been submitted by local authorities such as Bolton Council (red/orange blocks), and by developers and land-owners (purple blocks). Whilst the council submitted sites include some existing allocations, known brownfield sites and some fill-in sites, the submissions from developers and landowners are extensive and would - if accepted - lead to the loss of surrounding protected open land and some green belt.

Greater Manchester Spatial Framework - submitted sites around Westhoughton (screenshot GMCA) | Sept 2016

This is a consultation with a report expected in October 2016, with new targets for building across Greater Manchester for development up to 2035. However, the revised GMSF had been delayed due to public concerns over quantity of building, lack of support infrastructure and in particular incursions in to the green belt. It was due in July 2018, but now due to analysis showing a slower population growth for Greater Manchester than previously predicted, the revised GMSF is now expected to be published in October 2018. Notwithstanding the significant development approved since 2017 on previously 'Protected Open Land', the impact on Westhoughton could be significant. It should be noted also that there could be considerable development activity on the border - Atherton and Hindley (Wigan Council) - adding significantly to potential through-traffic and strain on the travel infrastructure.

A further 'call for sites' was made during the summer (black) - updated and wider area map from November 2016 here.

Update (21/10/16): 320-page consultation released for development across the Greater Manchester area over the next 20 years. Significant housing development planned for around Westhoughton at Lee Hall and Hulton Park (2,700 dwellings); Bowlands Hey (1,000) and West Gibfield (750). Link road ('bypass') to Chequerbent roundabout from Lee Hall/Atherton. The plan is supported by the 10 Local Authorities that make up AGMA - Bolton accounting for 7% of the 227,000 dwelling target over the plan period. Lee Hall and Bowlands Hey losing their Protected Open Land status and Hulton Park ceasing to be Green Belt. Integrated Assessment of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework Full Report (332 pages | 12 MB) | Greater Manchester Spatial Framework Executive Summary (12 pages | 1 MB).

Westhoughton-related sections:
Chequerbent and Hulton Park | West of Westhoughton (Bowlands Hey) | West of Gibfield (Southern Border) | M61 Junction 6 (West of Wingates ) - employment.

Wigan Future Transport Network Plans - new southern route allowing development of employment and housing sites within Wigan BoroughBordering Westhoughton to the west, there are GMSF allocations at Hindley which may have an impact: Liverpool Road (Hindley) | New Springs (Hindley).

These sites in addition to the significant developments planned at North Leigh Park (mixed inc. 1,800 homes) and South Hindley Urban Village (mixed inc. 2,000 homes) - both sites falling on the proposed southern route linking to M58 and Atherleigh Way - the potential impact on local roads and infrastructure in Westhoughton cannot be ignored.

This road is not a bypass route as per the previously proposed A5225 dual carriageway (M58-M61) route officially shelved in 2007.

Consultation now closed (deadline 16/1/17) - Download Consultation Information. Following wide-spread concerns about the plan and the election of a new Greater Manchester Mayor, the review of the draft consultation has been delayed, and a re-write possible. This delay is having some impact on existing Local Plans which may need reviewing and updating in light of some authorities', such as Bolton, not meeting their 5-year planning targets.

Stronger Together Greater Manchester Strategy 2013  Summary | Full Report

Stimulating and reshaping our housing market

[From 2013 report] Greater Manchester has seen a dramatic decrease in new housing completions since the peak of the housing market in 2007 - new supply is running at around 3,000 per annum rather than the 9,000-10,000 we need. A lack of available mortgage finance and difficulties in accessing development funding (problems common across the country) are the key barriers to overcome. Each passing year of under-delivery adds to the pressure on the existing housing supply, making it more difficult for new and existing households to find and afford homes that fit their needs and aspirations.

The wide-ranging regional strategy covers: delivering targeted investment; revitalising town centres; improving infrastructure planning and connectivity; supporting business growth…

There will also be a drive to deal with some 12,000 empty homes bringing them back into use.

227,000 houses target to 2035

Starting in 2018 this would represent a target of some 13,000 houses a year across the 10 Greater Manchester Authorities.

The 2014 'Local Plan' will be superseded by the Greater Manchester Combined Authorities (GMCA) plan. The Bolton allocation in the Core Strategy (Local Plan) is 694 dwellings per year as per the Local Plan - this after an extensive review was deemed sound and now has an adopted (legal) status. These ambitious GMSF targets represent a big jump to in current allocations. The new GMSF target for Bolton Council is 795 per year (15,904 or 7% over of GMSF targets).

In Bolton there are 20 Wards; there being two in Westhoughton - Westhoughton North & Chew Moor and Westhoughton South. As it stands the GMSF plan has allocations of 3,700 on new large sites on top of the Local Plan allocations (453 to 2016). Wigan allocations at Gibfield 750 GMSF plus local plan e.g., Barrs redevelopment.

These figures do not include the brownfield windfall sites that have or will come up, with presumed consent… such as The Gaiety, Wellington Street, Daisy Hill Tavern, the former Corporation Depot…

Vacant Properties - One of the goals of the new planning authority is to bring back into use vacant or derelict dwellings and there are schemes in place to achieve this - these additional dwellings would be part of the overall target. In 2015 there were 1,637 vacant dwellings in Bolton.

Some new allocations have been added as possible residential sites as part of the GMSF review - mostly fill-in sites (orange). Anything built on the purple areas would be excessive and would exasperate over-development and lack of infrastructure issues in Westhoughton - previously referred to by a Planning Inspector.

Any target will be dependent upon a number of factors: the economy, affordability, long-term interest rates, population growth and local sustainability. it will still need to be deliverable, sustainable and meet planning guidelines. Houses of themselves do not generate wealth, and they require debt to finance them - with rising prices pushing affordability more debt than ever before.

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Related Links

Further information and reading related to main content.

About Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) planning and strategy.

Current Activity

Development sites up for planning approval or approved. Westhoughton Current Sites.

Planning Search (Bolton Council) - search by reference number, postcode, ward or single line of an address.

'My Bolton' - searchable 'My Maps'… navigate to desired area, select 'Planning' / 'Applications by year' / click pop-up 'ref' to view planning application.


Westhoughton Town Council - info
Meetings take place fortnightly, Monday evenings currently held at Library. Planning matters usually discussed on a monthly basis.
Upcoming: 9 March (7pm) [Planning]

Bolton Council Planning Committee - info
Thurs, 2 April (2-6pm)
Thurs, 23 April (2-6pm)
Council Chamber
Minutes/Info of all Council Meetings can be found on the Meetings Calendar - look for Committee of interest, date and click on link for info, minutes and decisions.