Gorse Hill Labour

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

Weekly Update 8th December 2018


Back from a family wedding in Edinburgh; I’m absolutely blown away by the bus services there. Every bus stop I used had real-time information. The buses were frequent and direct – it was about 20 minutes into town for £1.70. They seemed to be used by all classes of folk. There was lots of information on the bus including details of the next stop.

Since getting home I’ve tried to understand the differences between Scotland and England with regard to buses. The main operator in Edinburgh is Lothian buses and they’re a municipal company owned by a number of councils. I think there’s the rub. By all means let other operators operate but set the standards that the others have to follow. It makes a profit too (Annual Accounts 2017) 

Learn that Amey are looking for a buyer and the controversial Private Equity Group – Greybull are the most likely buyer. The ft describes Greybull’s business model as:

The firm’s approach is to find troubled companies that have assets but weak cash flows. It then presses stakeholders — from investors who sell out, to customers and suppliers — to minimise the stake it must actually put up.

FT – Greybull eyes profit from Monarch Collapse

Clearly not of our making and but yet another questionable policy choice of the previous Tory administration.

Civic Quarter Masterplan Meeting

The last of the big consultation meetings was held in the evening. This is in relation to a strategic planning document in relation to an area centring on Trafford Town Hall. Because this area is attracting increased developmental interest primarily because of the proposed University but also because of retail, leisure and housing pressures. A finger in the air assessment would make it about 80% prohibitive and 20% enabling.

As is normal with these sorts of proposals it’s the developments that the plan suggests and enables that attract the most attention. I am focussing below on three aspects that were of concern on my table in the evening.

A civic square

In front of the Town Hall and alongside the proposed University.

Civic Square
Currently Car Parking – A new civic square crossed by Talbot Road (wellbeing route) and Warwick Road (processional route)

  • Creating a high quality urban square that would become an everyday destination, as well as a congregating space for match and event days, and other civic functions
  • Finely integrated with Talbot Road and Brian Statham Way
  • Flexible design and street furniture that is inviting for everyday uses, but can accommodate large masses on match and event days
  • Opportunities for accommodating spill-out and temporary structures for events and activities
  • A high quality pavilion building active on all sides offering quality food and drink offer

Whilst described as a civic square, a lot of residents have questioned whether its ‘Fanzone’ use is the more prevalent intended role. Ideal for Test Matches, but does it work for Manchester United matches? Is it not too far from their ground? Are there enough fans coming in on the Tram to the Old Trafford stop? As a civic space on non-event days are there enough people around even with the University?

Wellbeing Route – Talbot Road

  • Accentuating the road’s green character by adding more street trees and creating a boulevard
  • De-engineering the street – narrowing the carriageway, widening footpaths, lowering kerbs, etc.
  • Designated bike lane – create a strategic route that aligns with the principles and is part of the network of Manchester’s new Beelines
  • Use of high quality materials to create a distinctive sense of place
  • Multiple road crossings to aid permeability of pedestrian movement
  • One side of the street to accommodate an ‘active ribbon’ – furniture and signage for activities and recreation, including running track, outdoor gym, ping pong tables, kids’ play etc.
  • Supercrossing at junction with Great Stone Road – potentially a diagonal crossing – to create a direct link with the existing Stretford Leisure ‘Talbot Centre’.

Residents rightly questioned the displacement affect onto Chester Road. It’s a road that has received a lot of cycle infrastructure investment over the past couple of years so there has been questions as to whether the priority lies elsewhere. I have heard a lot of support for the Greatstone Road ‘supercrossing’ and I think this is welcome. However, the vision of a running track has generally been received sceptically and I think we might need to carry on the discussion more about the Wellbeing Route.

Processional Route – Brian Statham Way / Warwick Road

Vision (from the masterplan)

Today Brian Statham Way and Warwick Road are a direct, if unremarkable, link between Old Trafford Metrolink station, Lancashire Cricket Club, Trafford Town Hall and, across Chester Road, Manchester United FC. The Processional Route as defined in the adopted Core Strategy has an aspiration to ultimately link the Civic Quarter to MediaCityUK .

The SPD reimagines the link as a pedestrianised ceremonial route, amplifying the connection between the two stadia; a space to accommodate fans on match day and welcome them on every other day of the year to celebrate the uniqueness of this place and its history.

I think the authors have to acknowledge that they haven’t given enough profile in that vision to the residents who live on Warwick Road and the side roads off it – Hornby Road and Barlow Road. Although there was some concern about prohibiting motor vehicles from Brian Statham Way, particularly in regard to safety, I think those concerns can be met by opening up the ‘Civic Square’ and making it a much busier area. I am more concerned about Warwick Road.

It’s clear to me that we’re already imposing on Warwick Road with regard to marathons as well as Rugby and Football matches, sometimes on the same weekend. In increasing the ‘processional role’ we’ve got to ensure that residents can live their lives and use their cars. We can neither lock them in nor lock them out. They have to have access, and this needs to be a key protection within the SPD. It may be that non residential traffic is prohibited on event days but those residents need access.


Meeting with Lostock Partnership and Friends of Lostock Park.

I’m particularly keen that we never forget our youth. We have made damaging cuts over the years that will cost us all in the long run. Crazy politics. Thankfully, Lostock Partnership have taken on the lease of the youth centre. At the moment we’re trying to scrape together what youth provision we can from there, but in the long run I think we have to bring back a full provision and at least we’ll still have the building to run them from.


Library volunteering and video stream of planning committee.

Why am I watching a planning committee that I don’t sit on?

An application for affordable housing in Hale supported by all Labour. I can’t remember the last time affordable housing was permitted in an area where it was most needed. It’s taken a Labour administration and it felt really good watching the video stream.

It really is worth voting.


Horrible day. I know she was only a cat, but learning that a pet you’ve had for nearly 20 years is too ill to ever come back home from the vets with you is still quite a knock.


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

Active Gorse Hill

In addition to the civic quarter masterplan we’ve got a couple more reports going to executive next week with special pertinence to Gorse Hill ward.

GM Mayor’s Cycling and Walking Challenge Fund – Update (External Pdf)

The report details what we’ve done so far:

  • additional work on the Stretford cycleway (Talbot Road / Stretford Road)

Programme Entry status for

  • Talbot Rd/Greatstone Rd Junction
  • A56 Talbot Rd Junction

Programme Entry status means that Trafford is encouraged to work up plans and that the Mayor’s team would want to support a scheme that’s workable and cost effective. It gives them a slight get out clause and no funds are transferred but I personally would hope the business case is so strong that these will become reality.

The next scheme in the pipeline is described as:

  • Dedicated Cycle and walking link from Moss Road to Wharfside, Trafford Park

I want to stress that this is the complete Trafford list, it’s not a selection for a Gorse Hill Ward readership. I’m quite proud that every single scheme has had benefits for Gorse Hill Ward.

The future direction for Trafford’s use of the fund is now beginning to shift towards active neighbourhoods: something I very much support. Initially, it will be targeted on the Urmston Town Centre and routes into it. I’m keen that it means that dropped kerbs become the standard at crossing points and we embrace something called ‘implied zebras’, a thing that you’re going to hear much more of, particularly in Salford. But I want it also to provide more seating and access to toilets on routes. We have to be including all ages and needs in this.

Leisure Centre Investment

The report sets out Trafford Leisure’s investment strategy. Within the document is reference to Stretford Leisure Centre, still very much subject to Civic Quarter Masterplan consultation but we’re assuming a new centre will be built:

It is designed and firmly positioned as community leisure centre predominantly serving residents in the Stretford and Old Trafford areas but also of sufficient capacity to meet the needs of an expanding student population at UA92.

The facility mix includes a 25m pool and 18m leisure pool with moveable floor. A 160 station fitness suite some 3 times bigger than the existing one with a health and wellbeing suite and assessment room to help people get the most from their fitness regimes. Overall there will be 9 court sports hall capacity with flexibility as an indoor cricket practice area to professional standard which attracts funding from the ECB and provides a route for local people to access world class practice facilities
alongside the elite cricketers.

This would combine with a number of fun activity based facilities aimed at the family market along with a social meeting point and café area offering wholesome, healthy food and party catering.
The total construction cost including overheads, inflation and car parking for 300 cars is £24.460m.

I think the key thing is that it has to serve the needs of  wider Stretford and Old Trafford. Proximity to Metrolink will help but fitness isn’t just about sports centres and we need to stop expecting to be able to travel door to door in a car. We need to provide an urban landscape that people want to walk and talk in.

Agonising over Stretford’s Canalside Loss

Despite welcoming some aspects of the overall plan, I am very disappointed with the specific Stretford Masterplan proposals for the canalside. I feel that in sacrificing the opportunity to develop the canalside into an attractive recreational setting, we’re undermining the economic stimulus provided by an influx of students.


Canalside culture should be at the centre of Stretford’s revival

Stretford has excellent transport connections to Manchester and elsewhere. It has hundreds of passengers alighting at the Stretford Metrolink stop everyday, emerging onto the bridge over the canal. Having a picturesque canal is usually by default an economic blessing in any regeneration. Think of Camden Lock, Birmingham, Sale.

Canals normally make for attractive town centre settings.

Our canalside is currently occupied by the Royal Mail sorting office, but given the extant plans already announced by the Royal Mail to move their operation, it’s created a once in a generation opportunity to bring the canal back into focus.


And Trafford Council’s Masterplan?

The Masterplan document feels unconvincing. Its trickledown approach takes for granted that an influx of 1700 or so students in purpose-built accommodation will shop here rather than Gorse Hill-Tesco or White City on the way home.

Compare to Gateshead

Gateshead is a council that has used student accommodation as one facet of a successful town centre regeneration on the site of an iconic multi-storey carpark. The scale of the Gateshead project is much bigger and included a brand new shopping centre with the student accommodation built on top of the Tesco’s Extra. That last aspect is perhaps significant. There’s nothing subtle in the Gateshead model, designing where the students will spend their money with the 24hr Tesco directly below the student accommodation.

Gateshead Trinity Square
Gateshead Trinity Square
Gateshead Trinity Square
Iconic Get Carter Carpark

Positive Aspects of the Trafford Scheme?

Edge Lane frontage

“Edge Lane Shops – Possible Intervention. There are six commercial units on Edge Lane adjacent to the former Essoldo Cinema, five of these are currently vacant, with six apartments above. These units are in a single private ownership and are currently being marketed for sale. There are a further five shop units under separate ownership.

It is proposed that both shop units will be redeveloped for either all student accommodation, or retail on the ground floor with accommodation above.

I very much support the proposals for Edge Lane as described in the Refreshed Masterplan. Ideally, the attractive frontage should be retained. I would like to see something of similar scale and style on the facing side of Edge Lane.


The Essoldo

If The Essoldo comes into Trafford ownership, it will look better and may deliver on its community potential. I do agree with the masterplan that “There is a specific opportunity to bring the former Essoldo back into active use as part of the UA92 student campus”.

I support the principle of the Essoldo being brought back into use. I hope that once purchased, it remains in council hands and that the local community is consulted before any commitments are entered into.



My worry is that the student population will head to the tram, bus or taxi rather than spend their money here. The challenge for Stretford is not just about keeping its new student residents buying the odd bottle of milk here, but giving them enough facilities to want to invite friends over. The Essoldo could help, but I believe we will need much much more. Since this UA92 is a sports themed university, it just seems to make sense to use sport as a hook for Stretford. A leisure centre in Stretford should not have been so easily dismissed.

I do agree a student population can feasibly stimulate a night time economy in particular, and make a town centre a culturally lively and more diverse place.

However, Stretford would require significantly more social investment in supporting infrastructure than is promised in the masterplan for that stimulus to be realised.


Lacy Street

In addition to student accommodation it is proposed that there would be a mix of commercial spaces on the ground floor – for shops, cafés or restaurants – that would be accessible to all. There would also be a new public realm with access to the canal opened up.

Stretford Town Centre FAQ
Refreshed Masterplan

This feels so half-hearted. I’m extremely underwhelmed. It absolutely is not opening up the canal, and I’m struggling to imagine any café/restaurant area on the plan. The ‘quad’ looks too enclosed and uninviting; making the viability of any restaurant or café less certain. It looks to me that there’d be practical problems to servicing any commercial activity in the quad too. How would deliveries be made? Disabled Access? Disabled Parking?

We really need the public realm within the student accommodation to work. The ‘Quad’ area in the middle of the Lacy Street development reminds me of the area contained within the Hulme Crescents of the 1970s.

Lacy Street Plan – November 2017
Aerial shot of William Kent Crescent, Hulme, Manchester and its Public Realm

A priority has to be in opening up the canal now there’s an opportunity to deliver it. This does not preclude student accommodation in Stretford, nor indeed on Lacy Street. Getting right a cafe/restaurant/village shopping quarter on the canalside, at ground level, makes adding the student accommodation to enhance the scheme so much easier rather than the other way round; and creates a symbiosis between the two.

UA92 – Consultation on the University Campus

I went to the consultation event at Old Trafford.

Gary Neville was there alongside Prof Sharon Huttly from Lancaster Uni and Theresa Grant from Trafford.

In terms of what I learned; I learned Gary Neville has a genuine belief that there’s space in the market for a different ethos of higher education. He’s sincere. I don’t think I’d appreciated how sincere. Doesn’t mean he’s not going to make some money, but his drive seems to me to be coming from a place that plenty of kids miss out on higher education because conventionally, the emphasis has been on a different approach. I think I actually share that belief and possibly for a long time; perhaps it’s because I wasn’t attracted to go to university myself.

Gary Neville’s belief seems to stem both from his time in the united youth set-up and equally from being with the academy players at Salford City. There’s an emphasis on hard work, not necessarily on prior qualifications. Lancaster seem fully on board, but will want to ensure that the degrees offer a genuinely marketable asset for their graduates. UA92 is going to be marketed globally but with an expectation of 2/3 UK based 1/3 students.

<Salford City

The Salford City side of this is more than I’d appreciated, with them having use of academy pitches down on Turn Moss between Stretford and Chorlton as well as part of the educational throughput.

I genuinely want this project to do well. I really hope he’s right that there is a place in the market. It does feel at this stage that the narrative is too blokey, but they’ve got time to sort that.

He is going to face some cynicism from vested interests in academia, but it’s a credit to Lancaster that they’ve got on board. Especially given that they’ve just been awarded ‘University of the Year’ (and could have just basked in the glow from that), their presence gives this project real credibility. Bottom line is if it means that more northern working class kids get a chance of better life chances then as a Labour man I’ve got to support this.

Gary and Sharon gave the appearance that they were ready for some community negativity and some forensic questioning. Nevertheless, it was disheartening that the very first intervention was in fact “Do you know how much Stretford is against this project?”. There’s definitely opposition to some aspects of the town centre masterplan, I totally object myself to any loss of trees or greenspace close to St Ann’s church. We’ll have to work through those details and others, but I need to be clear; I welcome UA92 to our area.

I believe it is an incredibly exciting project and I genuinely want it to be a success.

We’ll learn more in the new year when they’ll be closer to releasing their prospectus, but there’s a real opportunity for Trafford schools, Colleges and businesses to part of something truly remarkable.

Understanding University Academy 92 – The Campus

Gary Neville’s University plans at core of a revised Stretford Masterplan

What are the plans, what are the risks?

The University itself

Big launch, lots of photo-opportunities, noisy videos, but what do we really know of the plans?

..and what is the UA92 vision actually about?

Universities have traditionally placed academic learning at the core of the curriculum, supported by character development for the world of work. By comparison, UA92 will deliver a curriculum with employability and character development at the core wrapped around by academic development.

There’s lots of talk of character and striving and success and goals, but beyond buzz words we still know very little about the university itself. We know that Lancaster University (University of the Year 2017!) are backing the project and they intend to give more information in the new year about the curriculum.

There could be up to 7000 students enrolled ultimately at the campus, but there’s also a lot of talk of paid placements. It would be helpful to understand the nature of these placements, whether they’re local placements or whether they’re global; and the interaction with the University whilst on those placements.

Not really a planning consideration, but in terms of understanding the economic regeneration and sustainability of all this, I want to get a better idea of how many students will need to be housed locally, where they’re from, and what their spending power is.

There will be opportunities for local businesses, for voluntary sector, for existing educational institutions. I really want to learn more.

The Talbot Road Campus itself

Trafford Council have already purchased the site. Currently, it’s the Kelloggs HQ but Kelloggs are moving to Media City. It’s a big and valuable site. My understanding is that Trafford will be the landlords and are already committed to refurbishing the building. There’ll be a new sports centre/swimming pool built on site (top right of map) to replace Stretford Sports Centre.

This sports centre probably deserves its own article; users are understandably worried about provision at the new centre, will it be more difficult to book a court? Will the university be making block bookings and residents picking up what’s left? It is some reassurance that Trafford Leisure will be operating the centre, but I want to be certain that this will meet the community’s need. I’m trying to get a consultation event organised at Stretford Sports Centre dedicated to the transfer of sports provision to the new site.

My Questions

  • What is Trafford Council’s exposure to risk on the refurbishment of the Kelloggs building?
  • As landlord of the Kelloggs building, what is our exposure to ongoing financial committment?
  • What happens if the University fails? Implications for Trafford Council and Leisure Trust?
  • How does the proposed hotel and 150 apartments proposed for the UA92 campus site fit in with the university – are these serious proposals or just something marking time until further announcements
  • The new Stretford Masterplan identifies 84 Talbot Road for development but no other sites beyond the K site, why is this when there seems a number of sites further down Talbot Road ripe for development including the old bowling green etc?
  • What guarantees have residents that the new sport centre will be able to cope with the increased demand generated by improved and new facilities as well as the increased student population on site?
  • How will the Leisure Trust consult users about what needs to go in the new centre?
  • University Campuses are usually 24hr operations – to what extent will this apply at UA92?
  • What arrangements are being considered for cycling and walking routes from Stretford to the campus?
  • Gorse Hill already suffers notable neglect from some private landlords, will you now introduce a landlord licensing scheme, such as has proved so successful in Newham and other boroughs?
  • What’s the intention for the current sports centre site?