Throwback Thursdays: Manchester City Council’s Local Plan

Hannah brings you your dose of climate policy TBT content. We all know the trick – quietly binning off or reannouncing existing policies for a quick political win. We’re amateurs here at CEM, and we’re not beholden to advertising clicks, so we’ll be reporting on the sidelined, neglected and cancelled policies in this new, whenever we can be bothered series.

To kick off this series on the un-newsworthy, some news: The CPRE recently released a report examining the local plans (essentially the building and infrastructure strategies) of councils across the country. It found that only one of the 24 local plans published since the 2050 net zero target was set in 2019 actually set out a quantified strategy to reduce its area’s carbon output. 

Not good odds! And that’s despite a national policy requirement that local plans should help to achieve ‘radical reductions’ in emissions. Worse, none of the plans tackled the tensions between economic growth, car dependence and emissions, or show that different spatial options for development and transport have been considered, and the lowest carbon option chosen. 

So that got us thinking: where is Manchester City Council’s Local Plan up to? Well, the original plan was published in 2012. The political landscape (and literal landscape – Manchester is much taller now) is completely different from 2012, when devolution was just a twinkle in George Osborne’s eye. There’s some mentions of carbon and climate in there, for sure, but it’s not quantified at all and talks about all sort of other neglected, future TBT blog content. The proof of the success of this local plan is in the pudding: we have blown (how much now?) of our carbon budget for the entire century.

There are some rumblings of a new plan coming up, which as plugged in citizens it’s worth keeping an eye out for. The first sign was a consultation, which finished in May 2020. If you also prefer reading two year old planning consultations to touching grass, you can read that here. According to that consultation page, the next step is the draft local plan. 

When we might expect that local plan has been a source of confusion for citizens and planners alike. We can probably assume that the GMCA snafu with the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework/Places For Everyone kicked that can down the road. So then there’s also been an integrated appraisal consultation, which ran from August to October of 2021 and scoped out what would be appraised. Any other trails have ran dry.

So now we wait. Will MCC’s local plan get its glow up? Will they throw down the throwback gauntlet? Answers and inside scoops on a postcard, please!

(Let’s be fair here: there’s also Government shenanigans in here, who as always haven’t provided any of the necessary tools, support or mandates for councils to deliver robust low-carbon local plans. Councils aren’t set up for success, but if Plymouth and South West Devon can do it then the city of “science based targets” should be able to as well)

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