Street of terraced houses in Ancoats, Manchester

Trees not Cars battle to save Ancoats former retail park

Manchester’s Trees not Cars group is campaigning against a proposal for new offices in the heart of Ancoats.

Campaigners believe that the publicly-owned 10.5 acre site should be used for community green space, parks for parents and children and social housing.

They say Manchester city council previously ignored a petition signed by more than 12,000 people against the car park plans.

In 2019, the council approved plans to use a former retail park in Ancoats as a temporary 440 space car park for up to two years, but with a proviso that it could be used for up to five years. The car park was to happen next to Co-op Academy in New Islington.

Trees not Cars took the council to court and in 2020 a judge granted permission to appeal the planning decision, saying there were reasonable grounds to challenge the decision to build a car park.

Campaigner Gemma Cameron said: “The council announced these plans after declaring a Climate Emergency. We must hold them to account and ensure they deliver on their promise.

“We hoped our petition with over 12,000 signatures, as well as the protests we held and meetings we attended, would persuade the council to ditch their car park plans and work with us to develop more environmentally-friendly alternatives.

“We even had a meeting with Sir Richard Leese, leader of the council, but we left the meeting feeling he hadn’t really listened to us and is more concerned with raising revenue than with children’s health.”

Julia Kovoliova, spokesperson for Trees not Cars , added: “The only way to keep cars away from my son’s school is to take legal action. We hope the court will agree the planning committee made the wrong decision and overturn it.

“My family is just one of many who have moved to Ancoats in the past 10 years and we need green spaces for our children to grow up happy and healthy.”

New proposal

This month the council put forward an update of its Strategic Regeneration Framework (SRF), which suggests a potential interest from the Government Property Agency (GPA) to locate government offices on the site. GPA are exploring options for offices in Manchester for various civil servant departments, which it says supports government policy to locate more civil servants outside London and support itsd levelling up agenda.

Campaigners send clear message

Trees not Cars campaigners are not happy with the proposals.

Gemma told NQ: “We need radical ideas, and we need them now.

“Eighty-seven per cent of families who responded to our family survey say there’s an urgent need for locally equipped quality play space for children in Ancoats.

“Ninety-nine per cent say Central Retail Park should include significant green space”

Irene Robinson labour Councillor for Ancoats and Besswick confirms that there is still opportunities to tweak the new draft

Trees not Cars campaigners will continue to appeal against the new proposals.