Sunday, 27 September 2009

Manchester Green Spaces - fighting on all fronts

We have a range of battles to protect our Green spaces in and around the City of Manchester at the moment.

In Hulme, Manchester Metropolitan University are proposing to build on the Birley fields (pictured below) in the heart of Hulme. The ‘consultation’ period is well advanced, but has never asked the basic question “Do you want this land to be GIVEN to MMU to develop?”. A campaign to protect this space has been set up under the name ‘Our Hulme’ which is a successor to the previous long running ‘Save Birley Fields’ campaign. More information can be found from Manchester Permaculture and the Facebook site Our Hulme.

A few miles to the south Chorlton Meadows are under threat from football pitches, including floodlighting. The location is the Hardy farm meadows area which is the route into the valley for residents in the eastern areas of Chorlton. Further information can be found here. Strength of feeling in the area against the plans can be judged by the size of the Facebook group which grew to over 5,000 members in the space of one month.

Meanwhile in the neighbouring city of Salford, the battle of Albion Green has been launched by local residents in the Poet’s Corner area of the City. More information available via 'The Mule'.

In the far north of Manchester a longer running campaign is seeking to save Charlestown Woods. Here Green activist Michael Prior is working with local residents and others to secure village green status for the threatened area.

Village Greens:

The qualifications for these are:
- Free and untrammelled access by the public for 20 or more years
- Used by a significant proportional of local people for informal social activity (including conversations)
- Unregulated access

The legislation comes from the 1906 Open Spaces Act and more information is available from the Open Spaces Society. It only requires one or more individuals to raise an application. A key requirement is to get verbal statements from local people that the land was used by them 20 years ago.

I understand the Charlestown application is proceeding well. An application for a village green for Ryebank fields on the Chorlton Stretford border ran into difficulties so it is not the right solution for every situation. It is however a useful potential tool to protect some of these remaining green spaces and one which campaigners may increasingly consider.

No comments: