Ancoats residents fight plans to create huge 24-hour car park next to primary school

  • Residents of Ancoats and New Islington fighting plans to create car park on their doorstep
  • Say pollution levels are already too high in the area
  • They want former retail park turned into community space for neighbourhood  

Residents of Ancoats have escalated their campaign against plans to turn the empty land behind a local primary school into a 24-hour car park.

The founder of the Trees Not Cars campaign  Gemma Cameron, has been granted permission by a judge to appeal the plans – approved by the city council –  to turn the 10.5 acre space into a car park for up to 440 vehicles.

The first court appeal took place in March and is awaiting a further decision from the courts. The appeal follows a petition against the car park plans started in August 2019 which attracted more than 12,000 signatures.

A fundraiser has been set up by the campaign group to raise money for the legal fees and for a plan to work with the council in finding a use for the land that will benefit residents. The end goal for the campaign is to create a park or green space that can be enjoyed by residents in Ancoats and New Islington.

Many of campaigners are parents of children who attend New Islington Free School, which is adjacent to the space of land earmarked for the car park.

New Islington, Ancoats, car park
Campaigner and mother-of-two, Julia Kovaliov

Campaigner and mother-of-two, Julia Kovaliova, said: “We already find ourselves in a forest of concrete blocks, and on top of that the council wants to build a car park next door to our homes and our children’s school.

“The current lockdown has shown us residents more than ever that the only sense of freedom we have is our balconies.” 

We cannot go outside as we don’t have anywhere to feel safe and relaxed

Julia, 35, has been a resident of Ancoats for seven years and has been a major part of this campaign since joining in 2019, having spoken as a representative at council meetings for the cause. She said her 10-year-old child, who attends New Islington Free School, has developed asthma since moving to the area.

She is worried that a car park will bring more traffic into the neighbourhood and lead to an increase in pollution, which recent data has shown is already above the legal level.

New Islington, Ancoats, car park
‘Trees not cars, please’

The Trees Not Cars campaign began in July 2019 when Manchester City Council committee voted in favour of plans to turn the former retail park into a car park.

On the same day the council announced a climate emergency showing that pollution levels were too high in the city centre. It said nitrogen dioxide levels were particularly high in Ancoats and New Islington that an action plan was being developed to counter this.

A report stated: “Every year over 100 people in Manchester die because of toxic air”.  

New Islington, Ancoats, car park
Residents want more space for the community
New Islington, Ancoats, car park
Sending out a message to the council and developers

Fellow Ancoats resident Nathan Cullen, 29, said the planned car park would also risk the safety of residents.

 “The side streets of Ancoats are very narrow, cars go at excessive speeds and I worry this will only increase the rate of accidents,” he said.

It would make the area non-child-friendly and deter young couples from wanting to move to the area, he said. 

“The land is right next door to the canal where people love to hang out and breath in the fresh air, it would be impossible to avoid the fumes”.  

Manchester city council did not respond to a request for a comment.