My recollections of the discussions on one table about the Stretford Masterplan at Stretford public hall tonight.
Our first topic on the table was active leisure.
Worries over access for dog walking on turn moss. Flooding too and car parking. Access to pools and facilities at the new sports centre, competing with students.
Overall disappointed that active life was not embedded into the masterplan. We've got the new sports centre and Turn Moss is getting new drainage; but there's potential to build activity into every theme. There's room for a new cycling & walking route alongside the metrolink where the old siding used to be between Stretford and the university site – where’s the imagination?
Outdoor gyms in our parks? - why not be ambitious and give us back a town centre swimming pool in the student village?
We could be much cleverer over the active offer.
Next issue was the Essoldo.
Some really good suggestions from the residents, for example rebalancing the closure of the Cornerhouse in Manchester with the Essoldo taking on a similar cultural role. Lots of worries and defensiveness against it being a Students Union. The council is not trusted. They are not believed when officers say it's a genuine consultation and they don't have a definite operation lined up for it. I do actually believe them over this particular issue, but I find it hard to blame residents for the mistrust.
A56 corridor next
...negative comparisons with Salford's Chapel Street and Crescent where the city council has created a genuine public realm and brought the traffic speed down to a more civilised 20mph and effective safe crossing points throughout. Salford managed to avoid the Edge Lane public realm disaster by being a genuine attempt to create a living space for people and being less in thrall to the car driver.
Less discussion about the green spaces on the A56 particularly around St Ann's church because we were so unanimously opposed to losing either the spaces or the mature trees there.
Finally the Lacy Street Students village.
A lot of support for smaller scale and dissipation of student accommodation on other sites - B&Q as well as Itron. I was in a minority on this particular issue. I genuinely believe it has to be of scale in Stretford if it's to deliver a sufficient boost to Stretford to provide any of the retail or indeed the night time offer we've been craving. Personally I don't think we're demanding enough in terms of design or facilities - I genuinely believe we should be asking the earth in terms of facilities in the town centre itself and that a swimming pool is not unreasonable. Altrincham will have one and anyway if you don't ask, you don't get. We should be asking for a lot more.
I think my table judged the benefits of the large student campus as vague and uncertain and would rather not take the risk at that scale. I also don't think we were yet convinced that the university would be successful as described when other universities were contracting. If that view is right, and it certainly has to be a possibility, then what is the contingency? None of the plans so far for the student accommodation show any sign of architectural merit and converting them to residential living is not easy. Just because it's student accommodation should not mean it's an ugly design. My instinct is that Trafford is not sufficiently demanding when it comes to attractive street design. Gary Neville in my view really commissioned an excellent design for Hotel Football, given the unpromising plot of land that it was built on. I want him to maintain that level of design in everything associated with this project and we need to see an improvement on what we've been shown so far.
This are not official minutes but a personal impression of the discussions that went on my table.