Jeff Smith

Standing up for south Manchester

Jeff submits formal objection to Turn Moss planning application

Representation regarding Planning Application Reference 93628/FUL/18 - Jeff Smith MP

I wish to register an objection to the planning application for development on Turn Moss playing fields (Planning Application Reference 93628/FUL/18).

Although Turn Moss is located within Trafford Council boundaries, and within the Stretford and Urmston constituency, it is on the boundary with my own constituency, and is currently well used and enjoyed by Manchester residents, including many of my constituents. As MP for Manchester Withington, I have been contacted by a large number of constituents who are affected by this proposal and I object on their behalf.

The main reasons for the objection are as follows:

Restriction of public space

I note that Turn Moss is shown on the Development Plan for Trafford Borough as Green Belt, a Wildlife Corridor, Protected Open Space, and an area for Protection of Landscape Character. The area is an important part of the greenspace provision in South Manchester and Trafford in built up suburban area.  A training pitch with a 4.5m fence around will break up the public access and harm the open nature of this green space.

It would appear that the area designated as the main training pitch will no longer be available for public use, and a number of residents have expressed concern about the privatisation of public space that this represents.

It is unclear what guarantees there are for long term public access to the other proposed training pitches, and without these guarantees it is understandable that there is public anxiety about the future of the fields.

Environmental considerations

Turn Moss playing fields is currently a flood plain and residents are concerned about the danger to the surrounding area and properties as a result of inadequate plans to deal with the removal of excess water from this land. I understand that when a development is proposed in a 3a flood zone, a full consideration of alternative sites should be undertaken, and there is no evidence of this having been carried out. (Alternative sites in the local area could include Stretford Grammar School, which might enable more public use of the facility.)  A comprehensive flood risk assessment for such a high-risk area should be undertaken before these plans can be agreed.

In addition there are understandable concerns about the impact on wildlife and biodiversity.

Noise disturbance 
Residents have concerns about noise disturbance that will arise from this development,  in particular noting the proposed hours of operation being  until 10pm. Extra noise associated with use of the car park, and shouting and whistleblowing noise from the pitches including weekends/evenings will impact users of the fields and residents who live close to the proposed training pitches.

Traffic issues

There are already traffic issues at the junction of Turn Moss Road with Edge Lane, and these will be made worse by the increased use of Turn Moss playing fields  by Salford City football Club. It has been suggested that a large number of staff could be based at the site. The Transport survey acknowledges that the junction of Turn Moss Road with Edge Lane has limited visibility, but there appears to be no plan to deal with the increase in traffic at this junction.

Flawed public consultation

There has been considerable concern about the way that the consultation on this application has been carried out. The detailed plans were not made clear until after the consultation had been open for nearly a month. Since then both the details of proposals and the deadlines for the consultation have changed, creating confusion around the application.  It is most unfortunate that the proposals appear to have been handled in an insensitive way, which has exacerbated public anxiety about the long term future of the fields as a public facility.

While I believe many residents are not in principle against careful improvement and development of the site for public use, they believe that there is insufficient public benefit from these proposals to outweigh the many concerns about the plans. I would urge the Council to reject the plans and enable a full public consultation with residents of both Trafford and Manchester alongside any other current users of Turn Moss playing fields.

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