Andy Burnham launches initiative to regenerate 'left behind' town centres

The Greater Manchester mayor has taken forward one of his manifesto pledges and is vowing to use devolved powers to regenerate forgotten town centres.

The Greater Manchester Town Centre Challenge which was launched earlier today invites councils in the city region to nominate a town to be part of the initiative as part of a “new approach to planning and development”.   The mayor, working with each council, will bring together housing providers, public and private landowners, developers, community groups and other key stakeholders in a bid to support the town centres who may need intervention.

It will be supported by new mayoral powers to establish Mayoral Development Corporations, the use of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) and mayoral grants to kick-start developments. The initiative will see each of Greater Manchester's ten boroughs invited to elect an initial one town centre to be the focus for regeneration.

Commenting on the challenge, Burnham said: “It's part of refocusing the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework from something that is too developer-led to looking at our towns and about brownfield including residential, and through that breathing new life into our towns. We need to build a new future for those towns through higher density mixed and affordable housing, with local retail and leisure facilities and supported by transport and digital connectivity."

The mayor has been keen to stress the need for the public and private sectors to work together on funding for development as part of the project. 

Burnham added: “There is a massive housing requirement across the city-region and we must have a housing and planning policy which is based on housing need and regeneration, not just the number of units.  We need to build the right homes in the right places.  Greater Manchester is suffering from high levels of traffic congestion and that means we will only be able to support new housing growth if we link it much more closely to transport infrastructure.”

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