Agenda and minutes
Overview and Scrutiny District Centres Subgroup - Thursday, 28th November, 2019 5.00 pm
Venue: Council Antechamber, Level 2, Town Hall Extension. View directions
Contact: Rachel McKeon
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 31 October 2019.
The Chair reported that the Scrutiny Support Officer was liaising with Marie Hodgson from Manchester Life regarding a visit to Ancoats.
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 31 October 2019.
Report of the Institute of Place Management
To receive the Vital and Viable Withington report and to consider how the Our Manchester Approach was used in relation to Withington District Centre.
The Subgroup received the Vital and Viable Withington report produced by the IPM which provided key insights about Withington emerging from the Vital and Viable District Centres project, drawing on centre audits, footfall data, meetings with the neighbourhood team, and a workshop with local stakeholders. The report also provided the context and background to the analysis of Withington.
Dr Steve Millington from the IPM gave a presentation on this work referring to the main points and themes which included:
The Ward Councillor for Withington welcomed the progress that had been made over the previous two years and that the work had been led by local traders and residents, in accordance with the Our Manchester approach. He reported that the workshops had looked at the detail of what kind of place the stakeholders wanted Withington to be, while having regard for the challenges presented by the busy bus route of Wilmslow Road and the limited public realm. He highlighted the shutter art project, events such as “Withington By Night” and the forthcoming re-development of the former Nat West Bank as positive changes. He welcomed the increased footfall since the refurbishment of Withington Library which, he reported, was now a major community hub. He informed Members that the Christie Hospital had “walk-in Wednesdays” when staff and other hospital users were encouraged to walk to and use the district centre but that he felt that the Christie could get more involved and that it would be beneficial to have more trees along the route from the Christie to the district centre.
The Ward Councillor for Old Moat thanked the IPM and Council officers for supporting the work in Withington. He informed Members that a Withington Action Plan had been developed in 2010 but that the aspirations for the area had been affected by austerity. He reported that some of the ideas from this original plan were still being pursued but that it was recognised that the Council could not achieve these on its own and that a partnership approach was needed, involving local traders, residents, housing associations, the Withington Civic Society and other stakeholders. He advised that this work was building on the heritage of the area, including conservation area status and the cultural history of the area, and he highlighted the good work which had taken place so far. He advised Members that the footfall data had been useful, reporting that a local trader had changed her opening hours to reflect the footfall levels and that this had ... view the full minutes text for item 14.
To consider the role of markets in supporting the social impact and economic development of District Centres.
Dr Steve Millington from the IPM delivered a presentation on markets. The main points and themes included:
The Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure emphasised the importance of markets to the vibrancy of district centres and that the markets needed to be relevant to that area and cater to the needs of the local community.
Helen Power delivered a presentation on Levenshulme Market, of which she had been one of the founders. The main points and themes included:
· That the Council had piloted a market in Levenshulme in 2011 but that this had been financially unsustainable;
· That local residents had subsequently worked with the South Manchester Regeneration Team to establish a community-led market as a social enterprise which had opened in 2013;
· That this had been successful and had subsequently expanded;
· That the market had aimed to help address the deeper economic issues in the area;
· The Levenshulme Market Fund, which provided grants to people who wanted to make a difference to Levenshulme high street and that a report on the impact of this was available on the market’s website;
· Work with community groups, including groups from black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, to get them more involved in opportunities relating to Levenshulme Market;
· Work to develop a High Street Health report for Levenshulme;
· The key findings from the Social Value Report produced to assess Levenshulme Market’s first five years, which was available on the market’s website; and
· The diversity of the market traders, including the number of women starting micro-businesses.
The Neighbourhood Manager reported that it had been challenging at the beginning to develop a sustainable market in Levenshulme. He informed Members that this had involved a lot of work from Helen Power and the other market directors and a small amount of investment from the council, in the region of £30,000 to £40,000, but that the risk had been worth it due to what had been achieved. He advised that the Council should consider how it could empower local people to take risks.
The Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration reported that the Levenshulme night markets had provided a focal point and led to local people going out in Levenshulme rather than the city centre.
Helen Power reported that, through the market, an informal network of traders had developed which supported new businesses onto the high street. The Chair commented that there were similarities between the work in Levenshulme and in Withington, in particular the partnership approach and local people driving change using their understanding of the area.
In response to ... view the full minutes text for item 15.
Report of the Strategic Director (Growth and Development)
This report considers underserved communities in three categories: communities that surround an existing district centre which is underperforming, communities without reasonable access to a district or local neighbourhood centre and emerging communities without reasonable access to shops and other community facilities or to a designated district centre. It summarises key findings to date including the latest trend in the District Centre Survey: Planning Use Classes and describes the on-going centre audit which has evolved from the Institute of Place Management (IPM) district centre Vital and Viable pilots.
The Subgroup received a report of the Strategic Director (Growth and Development) which considered underserved communities.
Officers referred to the main points and themes within the report which included:
In response to a Member’s question about decisions on new housing development in relation to their distance from district centres, the Planning and Infrastructure Manager advised Members that the location of new housing developments was partly determined by the availability of housing sites. He outlined the considerations for areas where there was expected to be an increase in housing development and how new residents could be encouraged to use the facilities in their local area. The Head of Local Planning and Infrastructure and City Policy reported that district centres tended to have better transport links so this was another argument for having higher density housing around district centres.
In response to a Member’s question on what the Council could do to fill vacant business units, the Head of Local Planning and Infrastructure and City Policy advised that there could be some opportunities to use business rates relief to address this and that he would look into this.
Dr Steve Millington reported that, while vacancy rates were used as a Key Performance Indicators for district centres, their usefulness as an indicator of centre performance was affected by “sticky leases”, where businesses had ceased trading but continued to pay rent to the landlord. Furthermore, he advised, if there were no vacant units in a district centre for different types of businesses to move into, this restricted the district centre’s ability to change.
Members discussed where people who lived in areas which did not have a local district centre currently went for shopping and leisure activities. The Chair commented that creating a local district centre could impact negatively on other areas which would lose their business. Dr Steve Millington advised that sometimes the solution could be cheaper public transport to district centres. The Head of Local Planning and Infrastructure and City Policy agreed that public transport was important.
The Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration informed Members that the information in the report was a starting point and that further work needed to be done. She advised that this information could then be used to inform Council decisions on where capital investment was most needed and would have most impact. She reported that more work needed to be done on ensuring that people in all areas of the city had access to fresh produce. The Chair supported these comments.
The Chair advised that partnership working tended to be easier in more affluent areas but that ... view the full minutes text for item 16.
Report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit
To review the terms of reference and work programme of the
The Subgroup received the terms of reference and work programme.
To note the terms of reference and agree the work programme.