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Family survey results are in and the message is clear - There is urgent need for quality play spaces for children in Ancoats

November 2021

87% of families who responded to our family survey say there’s an urgent need for locally equipped quality play space for children in Ancoats. “We are moving out of the city centre to Chorlton,” writes one parent, “We tried to make it work but it’s not easy to live here with a family and our children don’t have anywhere to play with their friends.” Another echoes these sentiments, saying “The city centre is in shambles and there is no green space for children. It needs one, otherwise I am planning to abandon the city centre shortly.” 


We ran an online survey to understand how families feel about the quantity and quality of play space in Ancoats. 124 families responded to the survey, and they sent the overwhelming message that more green space is urgently needed. 


99% say Central Retail Park should include significant green space. The number one thing families say the area needs for Anocats to be more secure and enjoyable place for children is green space (88%), followed by more playgrounds (74%), more children engagement centres like museums, art-craft centres, indoor play facilities (57%), more car-free streets (56%), and safe cycling paths (42%). Just one person says they think Ancoats is already a secure and enjoyable place for children.


Parents also call for lower speed limits, more clubs and local sports facilities for children (e.g. basket ball court, table tennis tables), more community spaces for parent groups, and raise concerns about drug use and drinking in the area.


“Speeding cars are terrifying when out with children. Had a few near misses and have nearly been ran over crossing a pedestrian crossing and at red light numerous times on the way to and from nursery. Never feel safe when out walking in the area. Cladding issues permitting am planning to move now New Islington is about to become a building site.”


“More kids clubs and local (low key) sports facilities. Even just a basketball court, and a few outdoor table tennis tables would make a real difference.”


“As a new mum I found a real lack in city centre baby groups. I asked other groups why this was and they said that the rent is too much for them to take classes in this community. So more places that people in the community can rent from ie a community centre.”


“Stop the street drinking and blatant drug dealing/taking in the square and the parks. Stop people using our doorways as toilets.”


The families who took our survey frequently visit the local green spaces in the area with their children. Around 2 in 5 (38%) go to Cotton Field Park everyday, with an additional 29% going at least once a week, and 17% going at least once a month. Just 16% rarely or never go.


A third (33%) visit New Islington Green with their children every day, with an additional 22% visiting once or twice a week, and a further 26% visiting once a month. Just 10% never go.


Sir Richard Leese, the current leader of the Manchester City Council, told us that families in Ancoats can visit Philips Park with their children, which is a 20-minute walk via poor quality pavements. But just 1 in 5 (21%) families go to Philips Park often (at least once a week), while 44% rarely or never go. Of those who don’t go more often, 63% say this is because it takes too much time to get there, while 41% say it’s not a pleasant walk. We believe this shows that Philips Park is not considered a local green space that families go to regularly. 


One parent told us: “My kids had started to feel more comfortable walking/ cycling up the canal to Phillips park with more people using it in the pandemic (which meant fewer drug users and syringes), but this is now closed for the foreseeable future. It would be great to have somewhere more local. With all the new flats in and around the marina, it just isn’t big enough for the number of people who want to use it.”


Survey responses paint a picture of families moving to Ancoats for the lifestyle and proximity to work. 42% moved there to be close to city centre attractions and shops, while 38% moved to be close to work. A third (33%) say they prefer living in the city to suburbs, and 29% moved to Ancoats because they were attracted to this specific area. 


Three quarters have children attending local schools, with nearly half (46%) with children attending New Islington Free School. Around two in five (38%) have two or more children. 59% own and 41% rent. A third (33%) live in Ancoats, 30% live in New Islington, 17% live in Miles Platting, with the remaining living in the surrounding areas, including the Northern Quarter, Beswick, Angel Meadows, and Piccadilly Basin.


Ancoats is increasingly marketing itself as a family area, with family homes on the market for up to £530,000. But we need the family facilities to make this a quality place to raise children. This also means reducing the number of cars and improving the air quality levels. 


Instead, the council plans to build a ‘mobility hub’ with 400 parking spaces in Ancoats. The idea is for people to park on the ‘outside’ of the city centre and walk in. The council have failed to realise that the city centre is expanding and now includes Ancoats and many families who live there. Far from building a mobility hub on the outskirts of the city centre, it is planning to build one inside it, defeating the purpose of a mobility hub!


And while we welcome Mayfield Park, it will be too far away for families near Ancoats to use as a daily park. Furthermore, it will cater to new residents that will live in flats being built around it. To make Manchester a truly modern, progressive city it needs a city park and more pocket parks around the city centre. This is why we’re calling for significant green space on Central Retail Park. Our calls reflect the good news that Manchester is indeed growing and becoming a place more people want to move to, raise families, and spend their lives. Now we need the parks and playgrounds to cater to these new constituents.


“Extending green space from cotton fields park to the old retail park is a win-win for residents and the city more generally. Especially the council!! It will put Manchester on the map as one of the most forward-thinking, modern cities in the country. Cmon Manchester Council, think big. Stop bowing to developers and short-term cash. Think long term environmental and economic benefit.”


“Let’s learn from cities around the world that know how to combine city centre, high density living with lots of fun things for our children to grow up healthy and happy.”

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