The trials and trepidation of moving into a 'regeneration area' by Fiona Guy
When I told friends and colleagues that I had just bought a new house in Ordsall, Salford, swapping my des-res city centre apartment for a spacious three-bed town house and garden, their initial reaction was a sharp intake of breath followed by "I'm sure it's not that bad – now!"
Working in regeneration and property, of course I had done my homework, or so I hoped, but when house prices for first time buyers are such an issue, I was immediately seduced by the affordable and rare price tag of £139,950. Plus the reassurance given by developer LPC Living (I must declare an interest as they are a PR client of mine) that Ordsall was truly on the up with a new school, shops, health centre, two minutes from Exchange Quay tram stop, infrastructure improvements such as roads, cycle paths and parks, I felt I had made a sound investment.
As the weeks and months have sped by and I have watched the construction of my new home, I have been ever mindful of the community and area that I will soon be calling 'home'. Despite having my 'isn't life going to be fantastic in Ordsall' mantra off to a tee, I am a realist and know that life won't resemble that of Tom and Barbara Good. That said, the Good Life it might not be but I will only be less than a mile from the city centre, have a large garden, overlook a Tudor hall and hopefully make some equity as the nearby Media City is beginning to affect prices.
To prove a point, me and my boyfriend took to a schedule of bizarre night time activities. Under Operation Ordsall, we embarked on a number of visits at unsociable hours to check out the area and see if the picture painted by the media of hoards of hoodies and gangland warlords patrolling the streets was in fact a reality.
Getting into the car on our first reccie I must admit I did have a few butterflies about what real Ordsall was like at 11.30pm on a Saturday night. So off we went. Pulling into Guy Fawkes Street, I was met with an unexpected and unusual sight, the impressive and dramatic Grade II-Listed Ordsall Hall (pictured) had a car park full of trendy North Face-clad 20- and 30-somethings; I later found out they were ghost hunters excited from their ghoulish walk which takes place regularly at the hall.
Ok, so far so good. Things in Ordsall were decidedly quiet, calm and – dare I say – peaceful, so we decided to park up at the house and have a quick walk around to see if the 'yoof' on the estate were hanging out anywhere. We walked down the dark alleyways and surrounding cul-de-sacs but encountered nothing more than brawling Tom cats. Something that was apparent was our neighbours had nice, well-kept homes and I did feel safe walking about. A lady in her mid 40's even said "evening" to us as we strolled past her garden. So back into the car to explore the rest of the estate. Driving past the Victorian Ordsall Park, we spotted a 'hoodie' but, alas, it was just a young lad wrapped up in a jacket and doing nothing more than walking his girlfriend home.
Much to my smug satisfaction, none of the five or six drive-bys resulted in anything untoward despite trying to use the element of surprise on the estate and turning up at teatime mid-week, Sunday afternoon, Friday night chucking out time and at 9pm on a Saturday night. All this did was to reaffirm my decision to buy in a regeneration area and allay the slight trepidation of life ahead – but that could be to do more with the thought of moving in with my man than moving to Ordsall!
This area, landlocked by Trafford Road and Regent Road, seems inaccessible and off limits to passers-by but once you are in, it unveils a number of surprises, not least the red-bricked iconic Salford Lads & Girls Club, the original terraced and cobbled Coronation Street, the beautiful and lonely figure of St Clements Church and a large amount of green space.
As I sit and type this, I hope that it doesn't all come back to bite me. I am by no means naive to think that everything in Ordsall is viewed through rose-tinted spectacles. The reality is that it is difficult for an area to shake off its past reputation, but I am optimistic and hopeful that with all the hard work happening within the neighbourhood, the old and new communities can come together as one and enjoy all the great things in Ordsall. I hope to be moved in by the end of February so will let you know just how it pans out.