The Chorlton CLT Board met to discuss our position on the question of closing Longford Road as part of the Cycle Lane plans. The CLT has a direct interest in the Co-op Funeralcare building and has floated the idea previously of closing Nicolas Road in order to extend the outdoor space and to create a larger pedestrianised area linking into the precinct. Below is an illustration which gives a sense of our vision.
We believe the closure of Nicolas Road would create a bigger dividend for more people as it would create a genuinely valuable space that connects the school and library to the precinct in a car free zone and could be used for markets, outdoor gatherings and on street eating/drinking, and open up public realm improvement opportunities which could enhance the local environment and attract more footfall to the heart of Chorlton.
Our proposal would be to experiment with an initial closure of Nicolas Road using planters from the junction of Manchester Road to the car park entrance as shown. This would quickly create a new public space at the heart of Chorlton that we would like to encourage local businesses, groups and residents to use as the weather improves and we await widespread vaccine in the first part of 2021. Three immediate opportunities could then be explored:
The monthly Makers Market would immediately have a more socially distanced space to operate within.
Oswald Road School’s distanced queueing arrangement at school start up time could have more space to work with.
New meanwhile uses that test the market for food stalls and occasional performances that are proposed for the future redevelopment of the Picture House.
If successful, we would aim longer term for a permanent solution in the context of the wider redevelopment of the precinct and access requirements of the medical centre.
We appreciate that part of the rationale for selecting Longford Road may be to reduce cars doing school runs to St Johns, however we cannot see that the closure will materially reduce the number of trips; parents concerned about their children’s safety are not likely to drop their children outside the library to walk the last part. They are instead likely to drive up one of the other roads to get to the school gates. To help ease this ongoing challenge, one of the emerging use ideas for The Picture House could be a breakfast club and drop off for the two schools. This would allow children to be safely dropped off in the morning and walked into school by volunteer parents and staff; we believe this could have a much bigger material impact on car journeys in the morning.
Ultimately there may be a case to close both Nicolas and Longford Road, however the plan right now is to experiment with one closure and to learn lessons on its impact. Our strong preference is to experiment with Nicolas Road in the first instance and to then consider Longford Road once lessons have been learnt.
In September 2019, Chorlton CLT was one of sixteen community land trusts to be awarded a share of £329,000 to strengthen their membership base and be champions of inclusivity, equality and diversity.
In February of this year we baselined how well Chorlton CLT reflected our local community of Chorlton and Chorlton Park wards, and posted the results from that survey in July.
Following our first AGM in October we asked all our members to complete the same simple anonymous survey, to give us data which could be directly compared with the 2011 census data for our local area. Thanks to everyone who responded.
In February 2020 members of the CLT were invited to a consultation workshop to discuss the benefits they would like to see from the Picture House project. Their contributions were grouped within 4 themes – ‘Strength of community’, ‘Health and wellbeing’, ‘The building and the environment’ and ‘Jobs and the local economy’. This enabled a set of social value outcomes to be developed for each theme.
In June 2020 the Chorlton CLT Board initiated a Governance review which was carried out by The Greater Manchester Community Led Housing Hub. The work was undertaken by the Hub Interim Director, Tom Hopkins in the period June – August 2020.
The overall aim is to ensure that the CLT board is fit for purpose and has a clear plan for actions to take forward.
As stated previously the CLT Board decided not to put a paper to the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) governing body who discussed the Fields at their meeting at the end of March, 2020 so as not to stand in the way of those campaigning against any development. Despite groups making submissions asking the governors not to sell the land for housing and presenting alternative uses, the governors decided to progress with the sale. Since then asbestos has been found on the site at surface level. MMU has commissioned more site investigations, installed fencing and urged local residents not to access the land.
Our first AGM is confirmed for 7.30pm on Thursday 22nd October, to be held virtually so you can join from the comfort of your own home. Formal notification will be sent out to members nearer the time but please save the date for now.
It’s been a while since we’ve posted an update. Rest assured, we’ve been busy pulling together plans for Stayin’ Alive and moving forward to nail down our agreement with the Co-op – so we can take the project forward using your generous pledges. Since early January we have been:
Chorlton CLT has been invited, along with other community groups, to make written representations about Ryebank Fields to landowner MMU’s Board of Governors which meets in March. We have decided not to write in at this point. We don’t want our position to interpreted as simply being “pro development” and in opposition to groups who don’t want any development at all. If these groups are successful in convincing MMU not to sell the land the CLT will be happy to accept this position.
We are delighted by The Co-op’s decision, communicated this week, to give us 6 months to develop our bid and ensure that we can meet their requirements. This includes working alongside a commercial partner, paying £2.2m for the building and ensuring that the redevelopment benefits the community. Come to our public meeting on Thursday 30th at 7.00pm at Oswald Road Primary School to help plan the next steps. Our press release is below.