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.
We have now submitted a formal offer to the Co-op alongside our development partner Brook Finch and are awaiting a response. It is taking time, but there are ongoing discussions and things are moving forward.
Chorlton Community Land Trust’s position re Ryebank Field has always been that should development go ahead, the CLT wishes to engage proactively with MMU and their selected development partner to ensure an exemplar development, with the best possible features reflecting the aspirations of local residents.
This should not be taken that the CLT’s position is pro-development. The CCLT is however preparing for the possibility that the development goes ahead and is aiming to ensure any proposed development is extensively consulted upon with meaningful local community involvement. The CCLT recognises that there is a strong anti-development opinion in the local community in relation to Ryebank Fields and in no way does the CCLT wish to detract from the efforts of campaigners to stop development on the site.
On the 26th May 2021, Chorlton Community Land Trust hosted an online Q&A session which was attended by 33 members. We provided an initial summary of recent developments internally in the CLT and an update on the Picture House and the Ryebank Fields process.
It was a lively session and we covered a lot of ground. The session was recorded for members who couldn’t attend, so please listen to the recording below to hear what we covered and get up to speed with the latest news.
Thanks again to everyone who joined us. We may be about to enter into a busy period and suspect there will be plenty of opportunities to engage with the projects we are working on.
As promised in a previous post, we are pleased to share two documents intended largely to influence developers’ plans. They are: an updated Expectations and Aspirations document which replaces the one published last Autumn; and a new Environmental Protection and Enhancement report by a CLT working group which goes in to this area in more depth.
At the beginning of the year, we reported a number of positive developments on our plans for the Co-operative Funeralcare site, which we are referring to as The Picture House. In particular, our constructive discussion with the planning team at Manchester City Council who were broadly supportive of our scheme, recognising that it retains the original Gaumont Cinema building which is now classed as a “non-designated heritage asset”.
On this basis, we submitted our final bid to Co-operative Group, with our development partners Brook Finch, hopeful that it would be taken forward. However, the initial response from the Group is that the commercial terms we have proposed are not sufficient for them to accept. However, they have kept the door open for us to revise the offer.
It’s been a few months since we last updated our members on our involvement in Ryebank Fields following Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) putting the land on the market in September last year.
We reported then that the CLT was expecting to engage more intensively in early spring 2021, when MMU had shortlisted a final cohort of prospective development partners. We can now confirm that while the timetable has shifted a little, we are now anticipating beginning detailed engagement with the shortlisted developers in May 2021.