Gorse Hill Labour

A regular blog and updates from Mike Cordingley, Councillor for Gorse Hill Ward in Trafford – Gtr Manchester.

Climate Emergency Committee

Meeting Monday 24th June

Timely that we just met on the same day (Monday) that Andy Burnham was announcing radical improvements to Manchester’s public transport.

It’s obvious we all have a stake in the our environment and no one wants to see our green and pleasant land turned to dust. It’s so good that we have cross-party involvement. I think it’s going to be a worthwhile committee.

Clearly there are global aspects to reducing greenhouse gas emissions but putting our own house in order is never a bad place to start and it has to begin at the local.

We agreed last night that we’re going to want to benchmark our energy consumption as a council. I’m quite keen we go a lot further. The Royal Family seems able to measure its carbon footprint, as can Tesco. I think Trafford can too! We’ll see how that conversation resolves itself.

One of the interesting conundrums we’ll face is whether to measure only that which comes under Trafford’s control. I believe that climate change is a matter for all of us, not just a data collector hidden away somewhere. We should even be capturing data on emissions from commuting. It’s been done elsewhere and it helps everyone appreciate the full extent of the impact we make in our working lives. It’d be quite fascinating to see the carbon footprint of councillors – I think we can make significant percentage reductions in greenhouse gas emissions here.

We also need to consider the extent to which we can guide via the planning process reducing the carbon footprint on new development. I don’t think we’ve progressed as much as we predicted in the 1980s. There was a television series on Granada back then called House for the Future and we genuinely expected homes to be self-sufficient in energy use and far more sustainable that has transpired.

Whilst the House for the Future template might have derailed, there has been progress in design standards abroad and Councillor Jerome has been quite keen to promote Passivhaus design to the committee. The carbon footprint of these is so much lower than a standard build. We need to be recommending quite a shift in our planning expectations. The extent to which this can be implemented locally will be something we want to test.

We’ve also had time to look at some smaller scale projects:

Both of these groups are relatively small but are collectively generating green energy locally using communal assets.

We also talked about District Heating schemes and some suggestion that Trafford Park could offer heat sources. Not so sure myself. Tend to find that the big heat producers recycle that heat to the nth degree themselves. There was a proposal for the incinerator at Barton to be supplying heat for the housing development being built alongside it. Councillor Carey is going to talk to the power station at Carrington, so we’ll give it a chance.

Local Shops – some TLC required

This is something I’ve wanted to tackle since I first became councillor.

As a council we take our local shops for granted.

Trafford gives strategic attention to four specific town centres of Altrincham, Sale, Stretford and Urmston. These four centres are designated within the official Local Plan and are monitored and supported through the council budget. Less attention is afforded to village centres such as Sale Moor, Partington, Hale Barns, Ashton upon Mersey and Timperley; but at least they are on the map.

As a council we give almost zero recognition to corner shops and smaller shopping parades. Yet there’s an argument that these hyper-local neighbourhood parades contribute more in social capital and community well-being than the town centres ever could do.

The local shops are part of family life

When mum or dad says ‘can you nip down to the shop for butter?’ the child knows where they’re being sent. It might be that these days the child is much older before they’re considered sufficiently road savvy to be allowed shopping errands, but it’s still a right of passage to nip down to the shop.

Local shops matter. When local shops fall into decay, it becomes a blight on the community. They can either add value to property prices or detract. They are very much part of the identity of a place.

The good news is that we have a lot of local shopping parades in and around Gorse Hill Ward and largely with one or two exceptions, they’re doing ok.

Lostock Circle
Lostock (Winchester Road)
Lostock (Barton Road)
Derbyshire Lane West (near Sevenways)
Moss Road
Fiveways
Moss Road/
Davyhulme Road East
Gorse Hill

Apart from on the Gorse Hill parade, there are almost no vacant units across our local shops. So that’s good. But are there things that should be improved?

I believe there’s a whole host of things that could and should be done by council and other agencies; and especially by the store owners themselves. I’ve tried to come up with a list primarily based on the complaints and gripes I’ve encountered in this area. It’s not exhaustive but generally I’m hoping to have captured the doable stuff.

  • Litter management issues, sufficient bins – right locations?
  • Access to the shops – safe crossing?
  • Traffic Management – too many cars on forecourt? Deliveries?
  • Graffiti?
  • General cleanliness?
  • Good mix of provision? Too many takeaways? Duplication?
  • Cycle parking
  • Trip hazards, uneven pavements?
  • Lighting?
  • Feeling safe? People smoking outside pubs and betting shops
  • Vacant units?
  • Management of waste – commercial waste
  • Cleanliness of alleys and ginnels associated with the shops

Is this a reasonable basis for measuring the health of our local shops and things to do to improve ? Is there anything I’ve missed?

It’s something I’m really keen to do. I’m hoping to put together a living set of actions for the council and other agencies to support the vitality of our shops. So I really want you to engage with this.

Hotel at Warwick Road

A 212 bedroom hotel is proposed at the corner of Chester Road and Warwick Road where the bronze windowed offices currently stand. In many ways I’m in favour. However at ground level, I feel the hotel fails to deliver sufficient active frontage on either road but particularly on Warwick Road.

It should feel as though you’re invited in and interested in the restaurant. It’s an important building and could trigger quite a renaissance for ‘Red Chippy Village’ if it’s developed appropriately, so I believe it’s appropriate for me to object to the development at this stage. I of course hope that the architects revisit the frontage at ground level to improve the interaction with people passing by.

My representation to planners

95591/FUL/18 | City Point 701 Chester Road Stretford M32 0RWObjection

I wish to make the following objection in respect of the above planning application to demolish the current office block and build a hotel on the site which is in Gorse Hill Ward.

I’m in favour of the application to demolish the current building. My understanding is that whilst aesthetically the office is acceptable, it contains a number of structural flaws that have made it historically hard to let.

I am also in favour of the change of use for the site to a hotel and consider the height and scale to be appropriate to a site which visually links Manchester United/Hotel Football and developments on Talbot Road linked to the Civic Quarter.

I appreciate that the height exceeds the specification in the emerging Civic Quarter Masterplan but believe it appropriate for a key site in the Masterplan area and its stated aim to bring about an evening economy. The location is very much in what is colloquially described as Red Chippy Village and will contribute to the evolution of this area to deliver a more comprehensive offering to visitors and supporters.

However, I’m very disappointed that at ground level the proposed hotel does not provide a sufficiently active frontage on either Chester Road or Warwick Road and as such fails to deliver key outcomes towards the Civic Quarter aspirations. I believe this is a key deficiency and sufficient to reject the proposal as it stands, but one which should be relatively easy to rework to provide active ground floor frontages on BOTH Chester Road and Warwick Road.

I am not enamoured of the proposed finish to the building as shown on the artist impressions. I believe that it can be improved. I am pleased there are no balconies and hope that this means that there should be no possible interaction or goading between patrons of the hotel and supporters in Warwick Road.

There is also shown on the plans, an outcrop over the pavement on Warwick Road. I am worried that this extends too far into the road and cut be hit by high vehicles.

I am inclined to OBJECT to the proposal until active frontages are designed into the scheme but am otherwise supportive albeit I believe the finish can be improved.

If active frontages can be introduced my objection would substantially diminish. However it would of course be dependent upon considerate construction as the demolition and construction phases are likely to be disruptive to nearby neighbours particularly those residents on Hornby Road and Warwick Road. This would be a major development so close to houses and would require the fullest consideration of the impact on their daily lives.

Mike Cordingley

Citizen Planning

We’re doing it wrong aren’t we?

Planners chew a pencil end and create. Managers look at the budget and frown. Planners go back and modify. Politicians call for a tent, people queue and some are beckoned. Hushed tones. Death by Powerpoint. Anti Climax. Shuffle on.

A cheerful alternative?

Why is planning our place so tediously joyless? We’ve not always done it this way. Man would never have built cities if this is the way we’d done it.

I don’t necessarily have an answer. What I will say is that I came across the image below on the Skyscraper City forum. You’ll probably recognise the place as our own White City. It’s just a few scribbles on a map, it won’t have taken more than a couple of minutes. What I will say is that the drafter got more into these scribbles than I’ve ever seen in any official consultation document. Maybe he or she has got town planning qualifications, maybe not; either way the scribbles tackle both current problems and current potentials and then solutions. There is no personalisation, no slandering of motivations. It is pure and free of bull. I love it. You can do similar.

White City

Pick up your pens and start scribbling. Oh and don’t wait for that tent!

Should we care about insects?

It hardly made the news. Relegated to sixth item on Thursday’s 6am BBC news, not even mentioned on the preceding ‘Farming Today’. If it wasn’t for the Guardian putting it onto their frontpage, maybe the BBC wouldn’t have mentioned it at all.

guardian frontpage

The news that German Scientists had revealed a 75% reduction in flying insects since the 80s was greeted essentially with a shrug.

I’m no scientist but I do know we need insects, that a 75% reduction is beyond serious; and that the most likely culprit is man. It therefore follows that we need to do something about it, …but probably won’t.

The EU has been struggling to comprehensively ban neonicotinoids, against an alliance of Tory MEPs, German industrial giants – Bayer (largest manufacturers of neonicotinoids) and the industrial farming lobby.

I’m proud that the Labour Party manifesto committed a future Labour Government to ban these filthy neonicotinoids. We need to go further though.

Buglife, the conservation organisation committed to invertebrates, put together its own manifesto in 2014 and it still looks credible today.

We do need a comprehensive strategy though and quick. I think the direction will have to come from the EU. The UK’s Tory Government is in a state of collective psychosis and the US has Donald Trump. Insects really matter.

Question to Council 17th September 2014

Council

I asked a question regarding wheelie bin thefts by ward.

Since April 2013

630 bins have been reported lost/stolen in Gorse Hill Ward

620 bins in Clifford (Old Trafford)

286 bins in Bucklow/St Martins (Partington/Ashton upon Mersey)

The grand total for the 21 wards of Trafford is 2395
So Gorse Hill and Old Trafford accounts for 52% of all Trafford’s bin thefts.

The council knows of no recovered bins.

Clearly if these bins are still in circulation here, our bin men are emptying 1250 more bins in Old Trafford and Gorse Hill than there are households and the council is doing nothing about it.

In reality they’re not in circulation and if the council gets enough £25 fees for replacing they’re not too worried.

But the regularity with which these bins are stolen and the sheer inconvenience faced by residents when it happens makes this a very pressing issue for me. I don’t want to see a slight reduction in bin thefts, I want it reducing in Gorse Hill so that it becomes a very rare thing.

It seems hardly any work has been done to understand why Gorse Hill is suffering to such an extent. Given that the other blight we’re suffering is the dumping of mattresses, my inclination is to put the letting agencies and their contractors under the initial spotlight. Both Clifford and Gorse Hill have the high numbers of such lettings so lets begin there. I’ve written the email below to council officers to look at correlation and means of engagement.

[scribd id=240190241 key=key-d2c1xzgdKUyAPkMvr3qu mode=scroll]

Bin Thefts by dinosaurbloo