Manchester's first planning meeting since COVID crisis is "politics as usual"

Approving thousands of luxury apartments and skyscrapers was the priority in Manchester City Council’s first planning meeting since the Coronavirus crisis began nearly six months ago.

Today (30/07/20), Labour Councillors in Manchester met to approve plans to build more than 3,000 flats. Not a single one will be affordable or social housing.

But in a shock move, the Chair of the Planning Committee refused a request by Lib Dem Leader, John Leech, to speak out against the plans.

This is despite the Labour Council admitting that its affordable housing plans have been a disaster, and recommended new measures to fix it earlier this year. The Liberal Democrats criticised the measures for not going far enough.

But now – the city’s first planning decision since the Covid-19 crisis began will be to approve 3,289 luxury flats and shared "co-living" accommodation across four huge schemes – not a single one will be an affordable home.

The new ‘Blade’ and ‘Cylinder’ towers will sit alongside ‘Beetham Tower’ in an attempt to build a ‘skyline’ for Manchester.

In the last twelve months, nearly 5,000 houses or flats have been approved – not a single one of which is affordable.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats 2019 local election manifesto, ‘Not Putting Up With This Shxt Anymore’ outlined detailed plans to transform the city’s housing crisis.

But this is not the first time Labour has been in hot water over its “social cleansing plans”. 

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Manchester City Centre John Bridges said:

“This announcement means the City Centre has had zero new affordable homes in the past twelves months. Meanwhile, Labour have approved nearly 5,000 brand new luxury and unaffordable flats.

“It’s a stark indictment of the Council’s pro-developer record and exposes their keenness to suspend the Planning Committee to remove scrutiny.

“Labour’s abysmal record on affordable housing in exchange for small backroom concessions will be of no comfort to those who desperately need affordable housing.

“Only the Liberal Democrat will put an end to vested interests, cut ties with greedy developers and provide genuinely affordable housing.”

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the North John Leech added:

“There’s a dark and sinister irony in Manchester as we meet for the first time since Covid-19 turned out lives upside down, and rather than coming together to tackle one of the biggest crises in our city, it’s politics as usual.

“The Homeless Tax lives on; affordable homes dropped in exchange for warm words, and the housing crisis as urgent as ever.

“Designing a skyline makes good headlines for Labour but the 13,000 people on the Council’s housing waiting list and the hundreds sleeping on our streets every night couldn’t care less. It simply isn’t and shouldn't be a priority.

“But this is not the first time Labour has been caught out over its appalling social cleansing plans. Decades of avoiding scrutiny, allowing developers to drop the affordable quota in dodgy quid pro quos and shifting responsibility are catching up.

"It is a completely standard procedure for any councillor to speak on any planning application at the committee, but the Chair has refused my request, claiming that it does not affect my ward.

"The affordability of housing in this city affects everyone, and Labour's attempts to silence opposition to their ambition to make our city an unaffordable, luxurious skyline is a disgrace.

“Only the Liberal Democrats will fight against these woeful plans and Labour's social cleansing plans every step of the way.”

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