A consultation on controversial plans by UA92 and Trafford Council to build a football training ground and new facilities on Turn Moss in Stretford will close at 5pm today, with campaigners claiming the scheme has received more objections than any other planning application in Trafford’s history.
The planning application will see UA92 and the council build a training ground for Salford City FC, including four training pitches, an office, and a gym converted from an existing storage facility.
There will also be a new floodlit pitch for public use alongside a café, children’s play area, and changing facilities.
First revealed as part of Trafford Council’s Stretford masterplan earlier this year, the plans by University Academy 92, headed up by former footballers Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, and Nicky Butt, have attracted a deluge of opposition from local residents and campaign groups.
Following a high number of representations, the initial consultation period was extended by around a month from March to 5pm on 18 April, and Trafford is aiming to have the proposals go to planning committee on Thursday 17 May.
As of today, there had been 1,747 objections to the scheme uploaded to Trafford’s planning portal, with campaign groups focussing on the loss of green space and the “hastily and poorly-constructed” planning application.
Campaigners have also argued the plans were “clearly in contravention” of policies including the National Planning Policy Framework and green belt policy.
Groups including Save Turn Moss have also targeted a number of planning application’s surveys for criticism, arguing both the transport and bat surveys were both “conducted well outside the peak months for bat activity and community usage”, having been carried out in September, February, and January.
The group argued more surveys were needed, particularly during the peak months for community usage between May and August, to fully outline how the proposals would impact the area.
Despite the opposition, leader of Trafford Council Sean Anstee has defended the plans, arguing there would be “no change to how Turn Moss can be accessed”.
He added the land would remain owned by the council, with the land leased to Salford FC for 10 years, and said the new sports facilities would “encourage more participation in sport” across the borough.
The pitches, he said, would only take up 10% of the total area of Turn Moss, and added the land the pitches are based on “has not been hired for sport since 2015 due to drainage problems”.
Trafford initially estimated the works will cost the council £1.5m, but this has increased to £2.5m since February.
No contractor has been appointed to the scheme as yet, with a tender process expected to start if planning consent is secured.
An updated construction method statement on Trafford’s planning portal said works at the site are due to last for 23 weeks, with works carried out between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, and between 8.30am and 1pm on Saturdays.
Further criticism from campaigners has focussed on the site’s ecology, particularly around local wildlife. This includes the use of the site by wintering gulls as well as nesting birds in the summer months, alongside habitats for protected species, including bats.
Updated ecology reports by consultant Bowland Ecology argued any trees that will be removed as part of the plans had “negligible suitability for bats” while two trees which had “high suitability” will both be retained.
In addition, the consultant said following a data search with the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit there was no evidence the sports pitches had been used by gulls over winter. The consultant’s report recommended that any work carried out during the bird breeding season would be subject to a pre-clearance survey, with no works allowed to be carried out within 5m of nesting birds.
Trafford Council started a consultation on the Stretford masterplan in October last year, and brought forward a refreshed document following feedback from local residents in January.
Central to the masterplan is the UA92 development, a sports, media, and business-focussed university on the Kellogg’s site on Talbot Road and Brian Statham Way.
This will include student accommodation, teaching space, and a new leisure centre to replace the existing Streford Leisure Centre. The site will also include around 160,000 sq ft of office and university space, a 184-bed hotel, and 154 apartments.
The council has already kicked off development of UA92 by agreeing to purchase a vacant office block on Chester Road for conversion into student accommodation.
The professional team on the Turn Moss project includes Re-Form Landscape Architecture, which has created the scheme’s design & access statement; and How as planner.