Flixton Fields Council Meeting – Don’t let them tell you it’s about houses

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.

Land adjacent to Flixton Station
Land adjacent to Flixton Station

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.

It's ridiculous

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.

Councillor’s Diary – Week Commencing 12th December

Monday Last of the exam support sessions I'd volunteered for. Thoroughly rewarding. Meeting in the afternoon on an Over 50s Worklessness Pilot we're scoping for Gorse Hill. It's…

Poisonous to say; but I thought Tony Blair was pretty good on 'Marr' this morning.

  • David F-A

    The current leader of Trafford Council, Sean Anstee, appears to believe that he has the legal power to offer up a precious part of the green heart and lungs of Flixton village for 750 housing units and weaken legal protections for adjoining public green space if he so chooses. This would be an unforgivable breach of trust – it is now public knowledge that this land is our land by virtue of a clearly documented, binding moral covenant which Sean Anstee and Flixton Councillors have a solemn duty, as elected guardians, to honour, uphold and protect. It is we, the citizens of Flixton, who should decide what should be done with this land of special status, for the benefit of our community. Furthermore, it is now abundantly clear that the need for more good homes in Trafford can be met by better plans, that don’t involve destroying a local community asset and further harming our public health and quality of life. I urge Sean Anstee to urgently reconsider this grave mistake.

  • Thanks David,

    Agree that they should be protected. I’m going to be more equivocal in using the ‘moral covenant’ argument. It’s not an argument I would ever employ.

    The case for protecting those fields on the basis of our 21st century town design principles is so strong we don’t need to defer to the implied intentions and decisions of councillors 100 years ago. We’d be denying ourselves and those that follow us, objective choice in the decisions we/they make and you vote for.

    I believe those fields can be saved on the basis of the benefits they provide now to the people of Flixton, and at the same time we can build the extra homes we need for now and in the future.

    My argument is that the above balanced and objective view is being tilted by the Tories because of a short-term self-inflicted financial predicament that they want to disguise.

    And that’s tipped the scales for them.

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