GREATER Manchester’s revised masterplan for the next two decades has halved the amount of green belt it originally earmarked for development.

The latest draft of the region’s Spatial Framework, which outlines plans for 200,00 homes, as well as thousands of acres of new employment space, will also include a target for affordable homes for the first time.

GM mayor Andy Burnham had pledged a ‘radical rewrite’ of the housing and jobs blueprint after initial plans released in 2016 sparked a backlash about the use of green belt.

The new version, launched today, has a greater focus on developing brownfield land, the area’s combined authority said.

It represents how Greater Manchester ‘is taking the initiative’ at a time of ‘national social and economic uncertainty’, according to Mr Burnham.

City region leaders will also reveal long term strategies for transport and infrastructure – including new stations, tram links and bus routes in addition to walking and cycling initiatives – along with clean air targets.

A total of 65 projects will be completed within the next five years, including Metrolink’s Trafford Park Line; an upgrade of Salford Central railway station; an expansion of the city-region’s electric vehicle charging network; and new interchanges in Tameside and Stockport, combined authority bosses have said.

A formal stance against fracking will be outlined along with the setting of a minimum target of providing 50,000 affordable homes, 30,000 of which will be social housing.

It is understood the combined authority will determine its own definition of what constitutes affordable housing at a later stage.

Mr Burnham said: “Together, we are harnessing the full power of the most advanced devolution deal of any city-region in England for the benefit of our three million residents.

“And we are putting together the pieces of the jigsaw to reveal the big picture – a Greater Manchester where prosperity, opportunity, health, hope and happiness are widely and fairly shared across all our people and places.”

Although the net loss of green belt has been halved compared with the 2016 draft – 4pc rather than 8pc – a majority of the sites earmarked for development remain, albeit substantially reduced.

Several green belt sites have been completely removed, including substantial plots off junction 26 of the M6 near Orrell, Wigan,  land in Flixton, Trafford, and Sidebottom Fold, Stalybridge.

The framework also focuses on ‘high density’ development, particularly in Manchester and Salford – to reduce the amount of protected land required.

The total of required housing has been revised down from 227,000 to 201,000 but this has been attributed to over-allocation in the original plan rather than the impact of latest population projections, which had caused a delay in the publication of the latest draft.

Mayor Burnham added: “The shift towards redeveloping our towns not only breathes new life into them but also relieves pressure to build on the city-region’s green belt.

“Towns are ideally suited to a bold new future as centres for 21st century living – they are developed urban spaces with local amenities close by as well as existing transport hubs for our buses, trams, trains and roads.

“It is a tough time for the high-street, but with Greater Manchester’s bold vision we can make our proud towns a success story once again.”

Initially released in 2016, the first draft of the GMSF attracted criticism across the city region because of the proposed level of green belt development.

The combined authority received more than 25,000 responses to the consultation while community groups protested against the plans.

This led Mr Burnham, the former MP for Leigh who took up the new mayoral role the following year, to pledge a substantial re-write aiming for ‘no net loss’ of green belt through a greater focus on town centre development.

It has since been beset by delays as local authority leaders became locked in lengthy discussion with the mayor, as well as with central government over revised population projections.

Mr Burnham added: “We are a city-region with a radical spirit in our DNA – we have always delivered industrial innovations whilst never forgetting the people that power that economy.

“In this time of national social and economic uncertainty, and with politics in Westminster paralysed by Brexit, Greater Manchester is taking the initiative and setting out an innovative blueprint to give people, communities and businesses hope and confidence for the future.”

“When we consulted people on the first spatial framework, the public were clear that we hadn’t got the balance right,” he added.

“We listened, reflected, and can now present a radical re-write as promised.”

The revised spatial framework draft is due to go out to public consultation later this month.

After the consultation closes, comments will inform a new draft to be published for consultation later in 2019.

Today's launch will also provide an update on proposals to improve air quality in the region, as well as Transport for Greater Manchester’s pipeline of priority projects for the next five years.