PRESS RELEASE: Council’s ‘Recent’ U-Turn on Park Plans Were Already in Place as Far Back as August 2011

Manchester City Council appears to have scaled back controversial tree felling plans for Alexandra Park in Whalley Range against which local residents have been campaigning since December last year, but the changes were actually made as far back as August 2011.

Although numerous trees have already been felled, it has been reported that only four new tennis courts will be built instead of the original six and a further 33 trees due to be chopped down will be allowed to remain.

In an email dated 18th August 2011 Darren Ashton, Tennis Development Officer for Manchester, informed local resident Ian Brewer that:

“Planning permission was submitted for a 6 tennis court facility, however we are planning to construct a 4 court facility with a view of increasing to 6 if there is the demand.”

This is a clear indication that the council may never have planned to build the full six tennis courts at all and yet are releasing this information to give the impression that they are responding to the on-going protest by local residents.

While those supporting the campaign to minimise the number of trees felled and amount of habitat lost in the redevelopment are pleased with the result they are still very concerned with the way the Council have released this information.

A spokeswoman for the Save Alexandra Park Trees Campaign said:

“Our major concern which will no doubt be shared by all those who rely on the Council for services and transparent, meaningful consultation in the development of their communities, is that the Council seem to be presenting a case to the press which is at odds with the simple truth: this is not a recent decision.

“This decision was made nearly two years ago and is being used now to try and silence an increasingly vocal and widely supported campaign to ensure that the regeneration of Alexandra Park goes ahead with the minimum loss of biodiversity and the maximum of meaningful community engagement and dialogue.

“If they are using this as a way to placate us, then where else are they fudging the truth?”

The Save Alexandra Park Trees Campaign began in December 2012 following the public unveiling of plans to regenerate the park. The protest has been gaining steady momentum since then, with over 4000 signatures on a petition. Although many trees have already been lost the campaign goes on, with the council set to begin felling this week within metres of herons nesting on the island.
heron of a pair on nest6-1

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2 Responses to PRESS RELEASE: Council’s ‘Recent’ U-Turn on Park Plans Were Already in Place as Far Back as August 2011

  1. Pingback: Council’s ‘Recent’ U-Turn on Park Plans Were Already in Place as Far Back as August 2011 « patricktsudlow

  2. Neighbours who I have spoken to recently are asking why the tennis courts cannot be sited where the original courts were. The current location near Smalldale Avenue means that our view of the park will be ruined, as well as concerns re the access point at the end of Smalldale Avenue. I have written to the councellors and so far not had any response to these issues, as well as our concerns about who and how this facility is to be run. We have been told that it will have “Beacon Status” where it has to give a few slots to the community, which may be eg at unpopular times, whilst the bulk of the time it may be beyond reach to locals cost wise. This will be divisive. The planning document states that each house on Smalldale Avenue has been consulted, but I have yet to find anyone who has been directly consulted about something that will directly affect us. If the council wants us to make a decision about a facility, surely it needs to give us the details for us to be able to make that decision. The planning application however states that such as pricing structure will be looked at after it is built, prior to it opening and already a fait accompli. Is the land being rented out to those that are going to run it, or is a chunk of the park being sold off and like the tree felling which it looks like had to continue as the wood was already sold, will the tennis courts be developed regardless, because the deal is already done?

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