Matt Strong’s Election Address Going Through Doors Across Chorlton

Councillor Matt Strong, up for re-election on May 2nd, has been out with hard-working volunteers from Chorlton Labour Party over the last fortnight delivering his election address to residents across the ward.

Matt’s five pledges to Chorlton if re-elected are:

  • Continue fighting Tory austerity and support moves towards a fairer system for funding local services
  • Ensure Chorlton gets its fair share of Manchester City Council’s £100m fund for highways repairs
  • Carry on keeping residents up to date with redevelopment plans across Chorlton, and involve the community in helping to shape these plans
  • Work with local residents and traders to improve walking and cycling facilities in a way which will reduce unnecessary car journeys and allow businesses to flourish
  • Support local community groups, our Mayor Andy Burnham and the council to ensure we tackle the homeless crisis, caused by Tory austerity

You can view Matt’s election address below:

Update on Chorlton Proposed Development April 2019 – Latest Update

As residents will know proposals were put in Dec 2017 by three different owners of land in Chorlton primarily involving the provision of new homes.

The three sites in question are the former Chorlton Precinct Chorlton Leisure Centre site, and Ryebank Fields.

The Chorlton Precinct site development is currently “on hold” until 2021 and local councillors are working with Chorlton groups such as Chorlton Voice, Chorlton Traders and others to begin to shape the kind of development framework we would like to see be brought forward by the owners and their development partners.

The former Chorlton Leisure Centre site development framework is currently the subject of discussions between various stakeholders and local councillors will give an update on progress being made as soon as we can.

Given the level of potential impact of each of these proposals across Chorlton, the council took the decision to devise Development Frameworks to shape what it would expect each site owner to take into account before bringing forward a planning application.

This current update is focussing on Ryebank Fields as the production of a Development Framework for this site is the most advanced of the three proposals.

This update contains the latest information we have regarding Ryebank Fields and this can be found in the section “Latest Information- April 2019” at the end of this document.

Background to the 3 Developments

The precinct site is owned by Greater Manchester Pension Fund and the former Chorlton Leisure Centre site by Manchester City Council.

Ryebank Fields is owned by Manchester Metropolitan University, who as part of their estates strategy are seeking to develop their land through a proposal to build new homes on the site.

Given the level of potential impact of each of these proposals across Chorlton, the council took the decision to devise Development Frameworks to shape what it would expect each site owner to take into account before bringing forward a planning application.

In Nov/Dec 2017, a consultation, led by Manchester City Council and involving the participation of all three landowners took place.

The consultation included both public meetings and an online consultation.

Over 1000 responses were made online and nearly 900 people attended the public meetings.

The detailed responses from the consultation can be found here:

Views varied across the community about the proposals for the three sites. However, the main concerns raised in the consultation were similar to those outlined by Chorlton Labour councillors last year.

  • There is a desire to see an increase in affordable housing in Chorlton. This should mean truly affordable and related to local people’s incomes, not market value.
  • There is a significant need to ensure that social infrastructure such as primary health provision and school places are developed in line with the inevitable increase resulting from more homes.
  • Local businesses are supported and able to continue trading in Chorlton both through the development of the precinct and beyond. The sustainability of an independent trading offer is important to local residents and forms a part of the character of Chorlton as an area.
  • Serious and workable solutions to traffic and parking issues are development in line with any increase in housing. In particular residents – and Chorlton Labour councillors – are deeply concerned about the traffic issues which are likely to arise from any development on Ryebank Fields. In the statement Councillor John Hacking made to the MCC Executive on 25th July he made it clear that :

“Whilst we are open minded at this stage about the housing development on Ryebank we are united with the overwhelming majority of residents who want to see a workable, viable plan to mitigate a future increase in traffic in that immediate and surrounding area. If such a plan is not forthcoming in the planning application, or before, then we as local councillors will find it very difficult to support any scheme on Ryebank Fields.”

  • The design of the buildings and the public spaces were high quality and reflect the vibrant, diverse and active community of Chorlton.

Following this consultation, a report was submitted to the Executive of Manchester City Council on the 25th July 2018.

The report is here (Item 10)

The report (which was approved by the Executive on the 25th July 2018) recommended that Development Frameworks for the three sites be drawn up by the City Council, in consultation with local councillors.

In the report which went to Executive, and in the course of the meeting itself, a number of principles were established which the the Development Frameworks for the 3 sites which need to consider before they were approved.

These included

·      The need for new affordable housing in Chorlton to meet demand in the area while also having consideration of the impact increased population will have on local services such as school and GP places. The report recommended that City Council owned land on Withington Road be “held for a new primary school”. The Executive Member for housing went further than a previous commitment for more affordable housing in Chorlton by saying she hoped to see affordable housing on all three sites.

·      The need to ensure plans for the precinct support a mixed used, residential and retail, development with the ambition to retain the district centre’s character with a mix of independent and larger retailers.

·       The schemes have the opportunity to work with local resident groups…to achieve the clearly expressed views in the consultation that these developments contribute to a significant number of other agendas such as Age Friendly Manchester, The Manchester Residential Quality Guidance, The Manchester Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy and the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan.

  • With particular reference to Ryebank Fields the report said :

“the final Development Framework must seek to protect, enhance and create a parkland setting for the new homes” It also said the “quality of the public realm on-site along with how development on the site relates to and responds to the surrounding area, including the physical relationship with Longford Park, will be reflected in the Development Framework (for Ryebank Fields).”

  • Again, with reference to Ryebank Fields the report said

“Given the sensitivities associated with Ryebank Fields, the University (MMU) will commit through their procurement process to select a development partner for this site who will engage with local residents groups to bring forward a participatory based approach to the development of any planning application for this site.”

What’s Been Happening Since the 25th July MCC Executive Meeting?

The report on the 25th July approved progress be made towards developing the three development Frameworks for each of the 3 sites.

These Development Frameworks contain policies, plans and aspirations for the sites and are what planning applications will be judged against.

No planning applications can be submitted until the Development Frameworks have been finalised.

The Development Framework for the Precinct site subject to a longer time frame than the other two and as local councillors we are proposing that a strategic plan be drawn up for the site which also takes account of the potential future of the wider Chorlton Cross area (Four Banks). We hope to ensure that this plan involves local traders, residents, community groups and other stakeholders and since 25th July we have been working to pull together resources to enable this strategic plan to get underway. It is like that there will be no significant proposals for the precinct site brought forward before 2020.

The Development Framework for the former Chorlton Leisure Centre site is being developed and local councillors are strongly supporting the proposal in the 25th July MCC Executive report that “The Chorlton Leisure Centre site should be brought forward for affordable housing, predominantly social rent, and that consideration should be given to a primary and community healthcare facility being incorporated into the development”. Local councillors are also keen that other partners who can add value to the site are also involved in delivering the development.

Local councillors have also been working with on progress towards the production of a Development Framework for the Ryebank Fields site which meets the stated aims agreed by the MCC Executive on 25th July.

In brief these are:

  • Any housing scheme brought forward must be of high quality and meet the requirements of MCC Affordable Housing Policy and other policies and plans (outlined above).
  • MMU will engage with local residents’ groups to bring forward a participatory based approach to the development of any planning application for this site.”
  • With regard to traffic issues that “specific mitigation measures are required to address the impacts of the new residential growth on the highways in and around the Ryebank Road site”

To this end local councillors have been working with MMU, Manchester City Council and Chorlton Community Led Housing Group (CCLHG) to ensure that these promises and commitments are kept.

A meeting was held on 11th October between local councillors, CCLHG and MCC to ensure that the “participatory based approach to the development of any planning application” was a reality and not just words.

A meeting was held on the 29th October between local councillors, MMU and MCC where we as local councillors pressed MMU and MCC to ensure that the Development Framework gave due regard to the views of the 61% of respondees to the consultation in Dec 2017 who said they didn’t like any aspect of the proposal put forward by MMU. At this meeting we as local councillors also conveyed the view of the Save Ryebank Fields group and other residents who have contacted us who share the groups aims that MMU should return the land at no cost to the City of Manchester. We also pointed out that there is also a view that there should be no development of Ryebank Fields and as Councillor Hacking pointed out in his statement to the MCC Executive on the 25th July that “……although It is hard to quantify exactly, as there was no meaningful opportunity to express this view in the consultation process…. it is clear that there are a significant number of residents, in particular those who are directly affected, who take this view.”

At the meeting on the 29th October, we as local councillors also conveyed the view of the Save Ryebank Fields group and other residents who have contacted us who share the groups aims that MMU should return the land at no cost to the City of Manchester.

MMU replied that they were happy to give us a written response to this and that response received following the meeting is below;

“As described at the meeting, the University is a higher education corporation and has charitable status.

As a charity, the University is required to comply with charity legislation and to protect and safeguard its assets, which includes ensuring the best financial position reasonable in the circumstances when disposing of assets.

In addition, as a registered provider of higher education, the University is required to meet the requirements of its regulator, the Office for Students (OfS). One of the OfS requirements is ensuring that the University provides value for money for students.

These requirements are incompatible with the notion of giving Ryebank Road Fields to Manchester City Council.

The University has a strong track record of working closely with Manchester City Council on the development of the University estate and of sustainable development of assets it is deemed are no longer required for the pursuit of educational objectives.

With that in mind, as the Ryebank Fields site has been identified as part of the Council’s Strategic Development Framework (SDF) in Chorlton and being suitable for providing much needed new homes, the University will continue to work collaboratively with the Council to help it deliver the SDF.”

A further meeting will be held shortly between MMU and the CCLHG where the opportunity will be available to put forward ideas for a development by MMU which is more innovative, environmentally sustainable and does not add to any traffic issues in the area. It is the view of the local councillors that any development of this kind brought forward from whatever source should aim for zero carbon development on the site and act as an exemplar in Manchester for this kind of development. This is part of the process of a “participatory based approach” to any development of Ryebank Fields. However as local councillors we ware happy to facilitate and engage with other groups who wish to take part in this process prior to any planning application coming forward.

The Development Framework will be developed after the meeting(s) between MMU and residents.

Only once the Development Framework has been approved by MCC will any planning application be able to be brought forward.

The Position of the Chorlton Ward Councillors.

It is our view that MMU will put forward a planning application for the Ryebank Fields site as soon as it is feasible for them to do so.

In this instance we believe we have two options.

1.         One is to engage with MMU and local residents to try and influence the type and nature of the development brought forward. We would hope that this would result in a development which enhances Chorlton’s housing offer and provides homes for those who need them, especially those who need affordable homes. We also want a development that respects the immediate environment, in particular the relationship with Longford Park. To this end we have been working with CCLHG and MMU to try and facilitate a “participatory based approach” which will achieve these objectives.

2.         The other option is to not engage and to sit by while MMU bring forward their plans. As local councillors we believe this approach would be irresponsible.

Some people will argue that we have a third option which is to oppose any development. For the reasons given in point 1 above we do not think that is the best way forward.

However we have made it clear to MCC and MMU in previous weeks and again directly to them both at the meeting on the 29th October, that if MMU bring forward a planning application which does not enhance the housing offer in Chorlton as well as the other aspirations we have outlined, and in particular does not address the issue of traffic in the immediate and adjacent areas, then we as local councillors will oppose it.

Wider Context

Since the MCC Executive meeting of the 25th July , further investment has been proposed for Chorlton including the Beelines project to enhance the cycling and walking routes in Chorlton.

Councillor Eve Holt organised a consultation in Chorlton recently on the report she produced as a result can be found here:

In addition to this we have worked with MCC, TFGM, Mayor Andy Burnham and Chris Boardman, the Cycling ‘czar’ and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to secure an increased budget for the Chorlton to Manchester City Centre cycleway. The consultation for the cycleway is due to start in the coming weeks.

Clearly, these various proposals could have a knock-on effect on each other and as a result it is vital to look at Chorlton’s future in a strategic, rather than in a piecemeal, way.

This is the “opportunity” Councillor Strong made public reference to recently. i.e. whilst many of the ‘moving parts’ (including the future of Ryebank Fields) are undecided it is wise for us at this early stage to see things in relation to how they will, or may affect each other. In this regard we will try and represent the many strands of opinion and interests of all those in Chorlton.

Latest Information – April 2019

1. Since the meeting of the MCC Executive on the 25th July 2019 MMU have been developing a Development Framework for the site which in simple terms sets out the design and use principles for the site.  

The Development Framework is a document being produced by MMU which will be adopted by MCC and forms the basis of the requirement for any future planning application to be assessed against. The Development Framework is currently being produced and is in draft form.

As local councillors have had an input into the content but at this stage the document remains an MMU document. It is expected that the Development Framework will be approved and published by Manchester City Council in early June 2019.

As local councillors we have been keen to insist that a number of issues raised with us by local residents, traders and community groups, are included in the final Development Framework. These include protection for the Nico Ditch, a commitment to protecting diversity on the site, a wide range of type and tenure of housing, including affordable housing. In addition, as we have made clear, once again, that the Development Framework must address the current traffic issues surrounding the site. We have also continued to press for a participatory process involving the local community in the process leading up to any planning application. In addition we have continued to support the aspiration of local people expressed through the Chorlton Community Led Housing Group for innovative and imaginative ownership and design proposals to be integral to the whole of any potential development.

2. Once the Development Framework is approved and published by MCC we want to work with local residents, community groups and traders to use it to shape any local response to a future planning application. The Development Framework , once published, is not open to change but the principles and assumptions in it are the framework which local residents, community groups and traders can use to ensure that any development on Ryebank Fields meets the needs of Chorlton and ensures any development has local benefit.

3. As local councillors we have been consistent in our view that MMU are serious in their intent to develop the site and that as far as can be ascertained there are no current legal grounds to prevent them (see following note on Covenants and Title).

Our consistent view since the proposed development was first announced in December 2017 has been to ensure that any development on Ryebank Fields is as beneficial to Chorlton and its wider community as we can make it.

We, as local councillors, have also been clear however that if any development does not meet this “test” and in particular does not ensure protection of the environment, (including the Nico Ditch), promotes a zero carbon outcome, produces an innovative and mixed tenure of housing (including contributing to the need for affordable housing.), and, critically, addresses the issue of traffic around the site, then we will oppose any future planning application.

Note on Covenants and Title

Following a request from Save Ryebank Fields Group when we as local councillors met with them and MCC on 28th January 2019 we obtained the following statement from Manchester City Council City Solicitors Office regarding the transfer of the site from MCC to MMU in 1992 and any previous or subsequent covenants which may restrict MMU developing the site in the way they are proposing, i.e. predominantly as a housing development.

“The Education Reform Act 1988 automatically transferred the Council’s freehold ownership in the Ryebank Road site to MMU.  The transfer was dated 2 March 1992.

There was nothing the Council could do to prevent this happening nor under the legislation could the Council specify that the Ryebank Road site could only be used for a particular purpose.

The  Ryebank Road site is subject to the following covenants created in the early 1900’s when the site was sold at that time :-

1. to erect fencing to separate the land sold from the land retained by “the Vendors”;

2. to obtain the approval of the Vendors to the plans elevations and specifications showing the proposed development of  the Ryebank Road site;

3. to ensure that any dwellinghouses or shops erected on the Site have a yearly letting value of not less than £16.00 and only to erect on certain parts of the  Ryebank Road site  detached and semi-detached dwellinghouses; and

4. not to carry on any offensive noisy dangerous illegal or immoral trade business manufacture or occupation or the sale of intoxicating liquors or any other act matter or thing which may be deemed a public or private nuisance or cause damage or inconvenience to the Vendors.

Given the passage of time it might prove difficult for MMU to trace the successors in title to the Vendors who have the benefit of the covenants. Even if they are traceable it is likely that MMU should be able to obtain consent to the proposed development.

The Council is therefore unable to prevent or influence the development of the Ryebank Road site as a former owner.

Any opposition to, or control of, the development would require managing through the planning process.”

Councillors Back Bid To Save Chorlton Irish Club

The Irish World has covered our support for the Save Chorlton Irish Club campaign this week.

We hope to meet representatives of the trustees and management committee shortly to see what support we can offer to work with the community to save this valuable local resource.

This coverage comes on the back of the Manchester Evening News running a similar story.

As local councillors we were made aware of proposed plans to close the Chorlton Irish Club and dispose of the site earlier this month and we are in contact with residents and groups concerned about the potential loss of a much loved and well used local community asset.

Chorlton Irish Club is of course a significant part of the history and heritage of the Irish community in Chorlton, and beyond. It is a valuable community space used by many individuals, groups and organisations, in an area which does not have an abundance of such facilities.

Whilst many of the users of the building have a direct connection to the Irish community and Irish culture and history, significantly many do not.

We recognise from the information currently available that there are significant challenges facing the future of the club in its current form and we as local councillors want to ensure that every opportunity is available to retain this asset to the community.

Therefore ahead of the Extraordinary General Meeting of Chorlton Irish Association members on the 3rd of April we are supporting an application being made by local residents to have the building designated as an Asset of Community Value by Manchester City Council. If granted this would allow a six month period, from the point of the building being offered for sale, for interested parties from the local community to explore alternative plans for the future of the building.

We believe this is a sensible step to enable a full and comprehensive examination of all the options available, including retaining the building as a community asset.

We as local councillors, will be attending the EGM on the 3rd April and will give any support that we can to help to retain this valued facility.

The Friends of Chorlton Irish Club have a Facebook group and a Twitter account if you’d like to keep up to date with developments.


Welcome to the Chorlton Labour Voice website. We’ll be keeping you up to date with news from Chorlton’s Labour councillors John Hacking, Eve Holt and Matt Strong.

If you wish to contact any of us our details are as follows:


John Hacking


m: 07852 195 883


Eve Holt


m:  07966 295 875


Matt Strong


m: 07788 978 677