On 21st December, Trafford Labour's Council Meeting we'd called to oppose fields in Flixton being designated for development.
It was a vital meeting. The submission by Trafford of these fields at Flixton for inclusion within the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework has not been adequately explained. Residents are outraged that something so intrinsically part of Flixton and central to their village is being sacrificed for development.
A council keeping its residents in the dark
We need houses and business development. We all agree on that.
This is not about housing though. We are still not getting the full picture about the Flixton Fields submission. I find it abhorrent that even after the full Council meeting we're still being strung along. I've never heard such specious argument in favour of a proposal. If there is an argument for including Flixton Fields, it certainly is not the one that the Tories are putting forward.
The insertion of Flixton Fields into the proposal has been blind-side operation by Trafford from the off. Less than two months ago the Greater Manchester Combined Authority published (31st October) the results of its 'Call for Sites'. As you can see below, the extent to which developers had ambitions on Flixton was minimal.
At the exact same time this is being published, we also have the Draft Spatial Framework. So the narrative is this:
We've asked you and the Developer Industry to point to sites you think should be built upon,
and you gave us this.
But, we don't want to give you that, we want to give you this;
and its for your own protection!
Listen to Sean Anstee on the video of the council meeting (about 12mins in). The amount of times he talks in terms of doing this to control the insatiable hunger of developers, to make sure we get the infrastructure, schools, highways, public transport in place first etc. You need to remind yourself that this hasn't been put forward by developers, then remind yourself who the landowner is. Nothing can happen unless the council chooses to sell, but it's the council who is both the proposer and the landowner. Quite clearly the primary threat to the Flixton Greenbelt is from Trafford Conservatives.
Frankly, some of the Tory subterfuge has been pathetic. Who on earth came up with the plan to continue to describe the site as 'Land adjacent to Flixton Station'? Did they really think we wouldn't notice?
It's also irresponsible
We desperately need the homes earmarked for Carrington, Trafford Waters, Pomona, Timperley. By including Flixton fields, we're delaying the recovery and ultimately the development of Brownfield sites. This isn't about houses, I would suggest it's got more to do with the council's financial predicament than anything else. This is about a land-sale. It's about the council tax receipts. We know the Council is in a mess financially. Most metropolitan councils are in a mess. The Government has taken away half their income at a time of increasing demand on their services. We know all this. The solution should never be selling parks and common land. At best it gets the council through a few years, if they're clever with the money.
Two days before the full council, we had the Council's Executive with a small item at the back of the agenda, "The Council's approach to Investment Opportunities". My suspicion is that Flixton Fields has more to do with the Investment Opportunities report than any of the spatial framework documents.
The Bottom Line
Flixton Fields were bought for health and recreation of that neighbourhood. They effectively provide a village green or common land at the centre of the town. They are are surrounded on all sides by residential development as the framework makes clear. They are like Clapham Common and no one would dream of selling Clapham Common. Trafford Tories should withdraw Flixton Fields from the plan and stop giving us the bulls__t about it being a consultation outside their control. They should get on with trying to get houses built where there's already planning permission granted instead of trying to get in on the act one way or another from the capital receipt they gain from selling off commonly owned land.