We promised you an update on our involvement in the MMU selection process once a decision had been made on a preferred developer for Ryebank Fields. MMU has recently announced its decision to appoint Step Places and Southway. You can read more about their decision here.
I want to update you with a bit more information on the process and some reflections. In May 2021 we set our general thinking here. The approach involved a sub-group of the CLT Board meeting online with each of the short-listed developers for two hour-long sessions:
MMU have announced today that their preferred developers for Ryebank Fields are Step Places/Southway Housing Trust.
Chorlton Community Land Trust’s position on Ryebank Fields is that should development go ahead, we wish to engage proactively with MMU and their selected development partners to ensure an exemplar development which, amongst other features, maximises affordable housing and has high levels of environmental sustainability.
Last year, through MMU, our Board engaged with the shortlisted developers including Step Places/Southway Housing Trust to challenge them on how far they would comply with the broad range of expectations and aspirations that we developed with members. We will be providing a further update to our members on our involvement in this process.
In March, we learnt that the Co-op had agreed an outline deal with Southway Housing to acquire the Picture House site. Since then, the CLT has been talking to Southway to make the case for our vision to revitalise the Chorlton High Street by retaining the Picture House building for commercial use with a community stake in its future. Southway is an established social housing provider with many properties in South Manchester and a commitment to its future.
We have teamed up with Greater Manchester Community Led Homes to host an event to celebrate community ownership which secures the future of community assets, creates homes that people can afford, and regenerates our high streets. Find out about practical guidance, sources of support and opportunities to meet others working towards similar goals.
We will have a stall at the event that promotes our ongoing work to secure the Picture House. We also be sharing our work on the Chorlton Vision.
Over the last few months, the CLT has been busy working on the Chorlton Vision, with local traders, Chorlton Voice, councillors and others. We have published our Initial Vision which sets out a series of priorities for public realm, the environment, movement, property and identity. Our plans for the Picture House would make a major contribution to realising the Vision.
The news has just come out that the Co-op has sold the Funeral Care/ Picture House site to Southway Housing Trust. The Co-op has decided to reject our long-standing offer which would have seen the community retain the main building.
A lot of people have been asking us for news on the Picture House project. We just wanted to say to everyone that we are still working on it and there are some recent developments that we are currently exploring. When we have got a clearer picture of where things stand and the way ahead, we will provide everyone with a fuller update. We expect this will happen in the next few weeks. Thank you for your continuing interest in this important project and please bear with us.
Chorlton CLT’s 2021 AGM was held on Tuesday 19th October at 7.30pm. The meeting was held virtually, and broadcast via Zoom. Thirty eight members attended, representing 11% of the total membership of 342.
Following a welcome from the Chair, Simon Hooton, and introductions, the minutes of the 2020 AGM were approved unanimously.
This year’s guest speaker, Rose Marley, CEO Coops UK, gave a presentation with an overview of the Coop Economy, referring to the vibrant Coop Economy in Manchester, and their role in the race to Net Zero and driving climate action. She then answered questions from members.
Simon Hooton presented the Annual Report which covered the independent governance review, as well as updates on The Picture House, Ryebank Fields and Chorlton Vision and the report was accepted.
The CLT accounts for the period 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021 were presented by Charles Ward the Treasurer and accepted.
The results of of Board election were announced by Simon Hooton. As there were only six candidates for the eight places available, the candidates were all elected unopposed. Those elected were previous Board members Sian Richards and Steve Goslyn, previously co-opted Board members Charles Ward and Shannon Conway, and new Board members Louise Donohue and Scott Lockwood who were welcomed by Simon Hooton the Chair.
Following the AGM business, questions from members on The Picture House, the Chorlton Vision and Ryebank Fields were answered by various Board members.
Chorlton CLT has the opportunity to embark on a project to set priorities for the regeneration of the commercial areas, principally along Wilbraham and Barlow Moor Roads. We have some funding from the Council’s Neighbourhood Investment Fund to kick start a process in partnership with other groups and councillors.
There has been a lot of press coverage recently highlighting the challenges faced by commercial and retail centres across the country. Like other places, Chorlton has seen many changes to local business and building use over recent years, but not seen a lot of investment. As we emerge from the Covid epidemic we foresee opportunities to do things differently and want to shape the future of Chorlton in line with the aspirations of people who live, work, and visit the area.
In our last communication on Ryebank Fields we said that we would give members a more detailed update once the current stage of MMU’s developer selection process had been completed.
This stage of the process is taking longer than originally expected and is still ongoing. In the meantime, we can report that a group of board members have now met (virtually) with four shortlisted developers for a presentation on their early plans and an initial question and answer session. We have given some initial feedback on how well aligned the initial plans are with the CLT’s Expectations and Aspirations.