The has proved unpopular among some residents. Credit: via planning documents

Manchester’s £12m Hough End spend questioned

A group of Liberal Democrat and Green Party councillors has questioned whether the city council’s controversial plans to create artificial sports pitches at the leisure centre would represent good value for money.

Manchester City Council proposes spending just shy of £12m on the Hough End project, plans for which were approved in March. 

The scheme would see the addition of a two-storey extension to Hough End Leisure Centre, located off Princess Road, and the creation of a pair of 3G pitches. 

The £12m investment was approved earlier this month but it has now been called in by a group of opposition councillors. 

Lib Dem councillors John Leech and Alan Good have backed calls for more scrutiny over the decision, alongside Green Party councillors Robert Nunney, Ekua Bayunu and Astrid Johnson. 

The group claims the city council has failed to provide evidence that the borough needs additional artificial pitches. 

“What evidence is there of this being value for money and that this will not simply put the council in competition with other providers…who already rent out their artificial surfaces?” the group questioned. 

Hough End MCC p.planning docs

The artificial pitches would be built on a grassed area to the rear of the leisure centre. Credit: via planning documents

The councillors also queried whether the investment would bring a financial return “without compromising other local providers, most of whom need this revenue to support their school or sports club” and if the project was in line with Manchester’s desire to be a zero-carbon city. 

The city council’s resource and governance committee is to meet next week to decide whether to:

  • Support the original decision to approve the funding,
  • Refer the case back to chief executive Joanne Roney and the city treasurer
  • Refer the matter to full council. 

Manchester City Council first put forward plans for the project in April 2021 but refined the scheme after a backlash led by campaign group Save Hough End Fields. 

The group is concerned that the project would negatively impact wildlife and air quality in the area. In addition, Save Hough End Fields claims the city council’s plan could be in breach of a restrictive covenant on the site that stipulates the land should be open to the public.

Campaigners think the fences that would surround the artificial pitches go against that covenant.

Your Comments

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Save us from councillors indulging in party political point scoring at the expense of local people who need these sport facilities.

By Anonymous

Pathetic, this is why Leeds has nice things (many sports pitches) and parks with safe parking while Manchester has nimbys and anti social behaviour resulting from nimbyism. Rotten Lib Dems.

By Phi

Petty political point scoring. Highly populated area with insufficient youth facilities and a greater likelihood of organised sport for them on all weather pitches. Where does that impact on air quality and net carbon zero ? Impact on wildlife can be dealt with via biodiversity net gain requirements. Its already had a positive decision as well.

By B Wilder

Narrow mindedness or political play from the opposition parties? Regardless, a waste of time. Get it built!

By New Wave

This is the same Lib Dem Councillor John Leech who ran on the premise of saving Chorlton Baths. Strong work there John seeing as it has been left to rot for years. Why not reinstate that facility? Better to decentralize facilities so local folks can easily get to them on foot.

By Luke

Look to Liverpool and its outstanding network of 4G sports pitches across the city and ask yourself whether these are necessary? They’re massively popular, thronged every evening and all weekend by different sports clubs and have played a massive role in encouraging young people to make sport and exercise part of their lives.

By Sceptical

No-one plays on the pitches up Waterloo Road between Bury New Rd and Cheetham Hill Rd.

By Anonymous

Hough did this happen?!

By Anonymous

Kids need more facilities in the area

By Keith Chegwin

Absolutely oppose this development, as do most local residents judged on the 2000+ signatures on a petition to oppose demonstrated. Not green, not good, not wanted!

By Richard Hunter

Why not reinstate Chorlton Baths, Luke? Because Cllr John Hacking has been talking about converting it to granny flats for years and it’s no further along, that’s why.

By Anonymous

What local people need is public open space not plastic pitches with fencing that limits their enjoyment for the benefit of the few.
There were plans to create new artificial pitches at Turn Moss on the Stretford Chorlton border. Those plans were overturned and during the pandemic that open space was invaluable to thousands of people. When you live in a big city surrounded by houses, cars and noise, you can’t put a price on being able to walk into a big open space!

By Jan

Do people not understand that this is all about making money?? If you expect these facilities to be free then you are sadly mistaken!
There is a huge area in Wythenshawe Park that could be used at the old athletics area which is really in need of renovation.
Leave Hough End Fields alone!!!

By Anonymous

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