124181/VO/2019 - Former Central Retail Park Great Ancoats Street Manchester M4 6DJ - Ancoats and Beswick Ward
The report of the Director of Planning, Building Control and Licensing is enclosed.
This application was to retain the car park at the former Central Retail Park, Great Ancoats Street, Manchester as a public pay and display car park for a temporary period of two years.
The application site related to 1.5 hectares that was previously used as a 440 space car park as part of Central Retail Park, which had now been demolished. The land previously occupied by the retail units was not part of the site and was hoarded-off from the parking area. The original submission had been amended to reduce the temporary period from five years to two years, together with the removal of a compound which was to the south western corner of the site and was being used by the Council as part of the improvement works to Great Ancoats Street. That was being taken forward under a separate planning application. Additional lighting would be provided within the north western and north eastern areas to ensure that the spaces were lit and safe to use in the evening. The location of CCTV and pay facilities remained to be confirmed as a management company had not yet been appointed. The car park would be accessed from the existing signalised junction at Great Ancoats Street and would operate on a 24-hour basis, 7 days a week.
The Planning Officer introduced the application and referred to the additional information included in the late representations submitted. The information included a submission from Lucy Powell MP and 15 additional objections including the grounds of these objections. In addition, a petition with over 10,000 signatures had been produced from the group ‘TreesNotCars.com’. The petition contained key statistics and quotes from local parents in the area. The group believed that local residents would be negatively impacted by this application.
The Committee was addressed by a local resident who spoke as a representative of the ‘TreesNotCars.com’ group. She explained the group’s objections to the application. She believed that when used as a car park for the retail park the site would have normally only had 20 to 30 cars on it, whereas with this proposal it would have 440, 24 hours of every day. She questioned the validity of the traffic management and air quality plans that had accompanied the application as the assessments had not taken into account traffic arising from football matches, concerts, at weekends and in the evenings. She argued that it was harmful to allow such a development next to a primary school, that the pollution arising from it and the vehicle movements could be harmful to the health of the children in the school, and that in doing so the Council would be acting contrary to its own declaration of a climate emergency in July.
The applicant’s agent addressed the Committee. She informed Members that the temporary use as a car park would be while proposals were being drawn up for the long-term regeneration of the retail park site. As the site had been previously used as a car park, this proposal was considered acceptable. There would be a neutral effect on levels of traffic and environmental impacts, including on air quality.
Councillor M Dar (Ward Councillor for Ancoats and Beswick) then addressed the Committee in objection to the application. He referred to the level of the local opposition to the proposal from the residents of the ward. He supported the objections of the residents and also felt that the proposed use would go against the Council’s declaration of a climate emergency. He felt that under the ‘Our Manchester’ strategy the Committee should be listening to the voices of the local people and should refuse the application.
Planning Officers were invited to respond to the concerns raised in objection to the application. It was commented that the issues that had been raised were already contained within the report. It was stated that it was believed there had been a reduction in the number of car parking spaces within the city centre and the application before Committee would not result in any increase to the number of spaces available but would replace other surface car parks that had been redeveloped. Officers also advised the Committee that there was no evidence to suggest that the application would result in an increase in the number of car journeys into the city centre. It was reiterated that he application was for a temporary period of two years.
The Chair invited members of the Committee to comment on the application. Members raised concerns in relation to air quality and concerns that this site was next to a primary school, and that the pattern of use under this proposal would be very different and heavier from the vehicle movements when the site was a retail park. They also felt it was important to ensure that a temporary consent was for two years and no longer. Members also felt that the use of the site should not discourage people from using public transport instead of driving a car into the city.
Councillor Flanagan proposed the following amendment, which was seconded by Councillor White:
“that the Committee is minded to approve the application subject to:
· the layout of the car park being amended so that the triangular area in closest proximity to New Islington Free School was not used for parking and instead was replaced with planting to increase the landscape buffer between the site and the school;
· that a commitment was given by the Council that the site would not be used as a car park for more than the proposed two years; and
· that any parking charges introduced did not undercut public transport costs to the city centre.”
The committee supported that amendment to the officer’s recommendation, and on that basis were minded to grant the temporary consent.
Minded to approve the application, with the authority to approve the application delegated to the Director of Planning, in consultation with the Chair of the Committee, subject to the conditions and reasons set out in the report and the amendment proposed by the Committee.