Ardwick residents carrying protest signs gather in a group outside Manchester Town Hall

Brunswick estate residents celebrate stay of execution as council planning committee resolves to inspect £450m Upper Brook Street development site

Many thought they had no chance. But with Ardwick councillors Amna Abdullatif (L) and Abdi Muse (R) in attendance, Chorlton-on-Medlock residents last week pulled off a mighty coup in managing to check the progress of the enormous seven-block development set to be thrown up on the edge of their estate – condemning it to years of building site noise and subjecting them to all manner of light & air pollution and parking problems.  

As resident Gareth Smith (third from left) read a list of locals’ objections at last week’s meeting it became clear the development was being vigorously opposed by the public.

Medlock Primary the most polluted [school] in Manchester… no plan whatsoever to accommodate the cars of up to two thousand [new] residents and three thousand workers… family houses and a community park permanently plunged into shadow.”

“What contempt for our community,” he concluded. “What do we want? We want affordable supermarkets, adequate parking, the retention of Inchley Road and Mosque. We want the twenty-six family homes proposed on site as part of the Brunswick PFI and a development more fitting with the estate and the houses currently on Upper Brook Street… This proposal is an attack on working class people living in Manchester in the interests of greed. It should be recognised as such and thrown out.”

Alex Russell, the Chief Executive of Property Alliance Group claimed the developers were listening.

“We’ve consulted extensively with key stakeholders and people throughout Ardwick and Brunswick,” he claimed. “We’ve listened carefully to the concerns and aspirations of the community, striving at all times to incorporate feedback into our plans as part of a genuine and meaningful approach to engagement.”

But ward representative Amna Abdullatif, who has won admirers for her firm stance against the development, offered a different picture.

“In the last year I have had hundreds of conversations with local residents about it and I have yet to meet a single resident who supports this development… We ask that you at the very least accept a site visit so you can see for yourself what many of us are seeing and are concerned about.”

How can there even be such disagreement over whether consultation has even taken place?

“Developers are required by law to conduct a ‘consultation’” says Isaac Rose of Greater Manchester Tenants Union, one of the key housing campaigners in the city, “but there’s a huge question mark over whether these developer-ran spaces are ever a fair forum for residents to lodge genuine objections. They are conducted on the terms of the developers, and the guardrails of the possible are set by the developers and their own commercial agenda.

“So even when the majority of residents attending express a negative opinion towards the proposals, the developer can point to the mere fact of the consultation happening as evidence that the community are ‘engaging’ with and supportive of their proposals.”

The committee will now visit the site and the twin applications will be re-presented to them at the meeting next month.


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Feature image: Danny Moran

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