Dear Sir Richard Leese,
As you are aware, in the last three years three schemes have been approved in Ancoats by Manchester City Council's Planning and Highways Committee. These include, Great Ancoats Street redevelopment works, 440-spaces 24/7 car park on former Central Retail Park Site and, more recently, office development on New Islington Green site.
Each of these schemes received significant push back from the local and Manchester residents:
hundreds of residents signed the petition against Great Ancoats Street works , many of whom also participated in the numerous protests against the schemes;
planning application for car park on the Central retail Park's site received 330 objections and just under 12,000 signatures on the petition organised by the TreesNotCars campaign.
544 objections have been recorded in the Executive's summary report on the development on the New Islington Green site in addition to 5,400 signatures on the petition organised by the SaveNewIslingtonGreen campaign.
However, based on the results of the above mentioned application, it seems that the general public was unable to influence planning decision.
We've met before when Gemma Cameron and I came to visit you in your office and discuss the car park planning application prior its approval as part of our TreesNotCars campaign.
As a mother of three young children and a co-founder of the TreesNotCars public initiative, I am appealing to you in particular. I had followed your work on the Leader's Blog, especially your video about Ancoats.
Throughout the video you praised Ancoats for its uniqueness, you said that Manchester city Council had set an example of taking ‘something that was dying and brought it back to life.’ You mentioned that people were ‘queueing up to get a property here’, in contrast to the situation just 15 years ago, when you had to close a local school, while ‘now newly-build school is full and will need to expand’.
Your video blog is an admirable promotion of the Ancoats as a great place to live in the city centre especially for younger professionals and families.
Yet, we see a sporadic development of office and residential buildings seemingly without a particular landscape plan. More green spaces are being taken away, including New Islington Green, cherished by residents. The scheme was approved despite objection of local councillors.
This issue is very personal to our community and to my family. For almost a decade I have lived in Ancoats. In August, I have welcomed our third baby. However, one of my older children has had asthma since he was six years old. My husband and I decided to start a family in the city centre due to its proximity to our work, good schools and wonderful opportunities for social engagement for our children and us.
But raising our children in the city centre is becoming more challenging without green spaces.
Instead of enjoying their time in parks and playgrounds in their spare time, my children as well as many others in the area, will be attending school directly adjacent to a busy polluted road, playing in a small Cotton field park with no play area.
Mayfield Park will add a great addition to green space in Manchester but it's a 20 minute walk from Ancoats and will cater to new residents there. We need more green space throughout the city.
To help us plan our future in the area, I hope you could clarify the following:
Firstly, on average, how many objections a planning application must receive in order to be rejected by the Planning and Highways Committee to favour local residents?
Secondly, there is a lot if PR about "future jobs". But what about Manchester residents currently residing and working in the city centre? Is there a plan for any green areas to be introduced in the community?
Lastly, in July 2019, Manchester City Council had declared Climate Emergency with a target to become a zero-carbon city by 2038. What are the steps you are currently taking to achieve this goal?
I hope to hear from you soon.