Weekly Update 8th December 2018

Tuesday

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.

Wednesday

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.

Thursday

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.

Friday

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.

RIP  YoYo