Ryebank MMU
A decision on a proposed developer could be made by the end of the year. Credit: via masterplan documents

Final four vie for Ryebank revamp 

Dan Whelan

Morris Homes, PJ Livesey, Anwyl Homes, and a joint venture between Step Places and Southway Housing Trust are in the running to acquire the 10-acre Chorlton site owned by Manchester Metropolitan University. 

MMU is considering proposals for the redevelopment of Ryebank Fields from each party and could make a decision before the end of the year, Place North West understands. 

Urban Splash and several volume housebuilders are also rumoured to have expressed an interest in the site but are no longer in the running. 

The final four

  • Morris Homes – Wilmslow-based housebuilder most prevalent in Cheshire and Lancashire. In Greater Manchester, the company is redeveloping the former Linotype Works on the Bridgewater Canal in Broadheath 
  • PJ Livesey – Trafford-based developer with a track record of restoring listed properties. The company has more recently branched out into new-builds 
  • Step Places/Southway Housing Trust – developer Step Places is bringing forward 248 homes on the site of the former Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, among other schemes. Meanwhile, Southway Housing is a registered provider that manages 6,000 homes across Manchester 
  • Anwyl Homes – North Wales housebuilder delivering homes on both sides of the border. 

Last year, MMU appointed Cushman & Wakefield to market the site, which is earmarked for more than 100 homes under a masterplan drawn up by 5plus Architects in 2019. 

Some local residents who use the land for recreational purposes have fiercely opposed the university’s plan to dispose of the land for redevelopment. 

In May 2020, asbestos was reportedly found at the site, prompting calls for MMU to call off its plan to sell the land. The site has since been fenced off. 

MMU acknowledged the discovery of potentially hazardous material at Ryebank Fields but said it intended to go ahead with the sale. 

Campaign group Save Ryebank Fields claims that the land is unfit for redevelopment and claims MMU does not have a “moral right to benefit financially from the proposed housing development”. 

MMU would not confirm the shortlisted names but said:  “We are currently looking at a shortlist of developers to whom we would be happy to sell the land. Once the right developer has been identified, a planning process is likely to take 12-18 months and involve further local consultation.” 

PJ Livesey and Anwyl declined to comment. 

Step Places, Southway Housing Trust and Morris Homes were contacted for comment. 

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Great stuff. Ryebanks is a wasteland currently and there is a chronic shortage of family housing in Chorlton.

By Bill Durs

Hopefully PJL get it

By Alan

Lots of new homes needed in Chorlton which is why I’m so confused that this plan shows so much wasted land. You could easily accommodate double the number of homes on that site by closing the ridiculous gaps between the individual houses. This would also help create actual streets, with lots of natural surveillance, whilst supplying new homes to a heavily overcrowded market.

By Anonymous

MMU – the UKs greenest university! There’s a climate crisis – stop the sale, give the land back to the people.

By Nixon Tod

You should be ashamed of yourselfs distorting such a beautiful piece of rewilded land for pure profit with little thorght to to local residents and the impact on the ecosystems

By Anonymous

I think you mean a chronic shortage of affordable housing, which these won’t be.

By LoubyLou

I would not describe Ryebanks as a wasteland but rather an attractive wild area with lots of Birdlip used extensively by the local community..an area that gets very wet and any building would destroy a lovely place and have a big impact on neighbouring homes that get issues with flooded cellars . There is a need for social housing in mcr but lots of brownfield sites exist. MMU was gifted this land and should work in partnership with locals to make it a community resource managed by the community..

By Mark Thomas

Ryebank Fields is actually far from being a wasteland, the fields contain a Nico Ditch dug somewhere between the 5th and 11th century and mentioned in the Domesday Book, they are a home to many species of birds and other wildlife as well as an community orchard and well over 100 oak trees. I Would also beg to differ on your point about shortage of family housing in Chorlton, the area is full of family housing and if the fields were sold to any of the developers mentioned, why would they build family housing when executive houses would earn them so much more. All the schools in the area are completely over subscribed and if you think finding space at any of the many local dentists or doctors is going to be possible, think again. And then there is the issues made prevalent by climate change, the importance of green space to protect against flooding or for absorption of CO2 and then the importance of the green space for human wellbeing. At the end of the day, the fields were gifted to MMU as long as it was used for recreational purposes not so it could be sold to developers to destroy yet more inner city green space. The wasteland you talk about doesn’t exist.

By Nige Mcilwaine

Ryebank fields is a green space, why isn’t the council building on all the rotting brownfield sites instead?

By Darren

Such a shame that MMU are cashing in at the expense of the local community. They were given this land for free for use for leisure and recreation and it’s widely used and appreciated as a beautiful and slightly wild natural space.

By Steve

Housing Development proposed in an area that is already densely populated and very heavily congested with traffic !

By Hey

PJ livesey will get this as they get everything that MMU dispose of. They’ll design houses that look like a championship league footballers home. People from Chorlton won’t be happy. MMU won’t care. And the beat goes on.

By Fred

This is a disgrace. This was public land given by the Council to MMU to use for sports. As it’s no longer required it should be given back to the community. It’s a beautiful rewilded space full of nature, wildlife and over 1400 trees. It absorbs carbon, helps address air pollution in a densely populated area and is teeming with wildlife whose habitat will be lost if it’s built on. It’s very well used by the local community and is one of the few local green spaces that isn’t spoiled by the roar of the motorway. Covid showed us how essential green space and nature is for our physical and mental health and Ryebank Fields provides a completely different natural environment from Longford Park. Children love playing in the wilderness and research shows that urban kids have hardly any chance to play in the wild these days. My two children would be devastated if it was built on.

Additionally the land contains a huge abundance of toxic chemicals and is prone to flooding, as are neighbouring gardens and basements etc. I certainly would not want to live in an area that could have so many potential problems. Chorlton is short of affordable housing, not executive homes, and this development would do nothing to address that.

If MMU want to actually live up to their claim to be England’s greenest university they could use the fields to conduct groundbreaking research into urban Rewilding and its effects.

We are living in a climate and ecological emergency and every piece of land like this is enormously precious. Manchester has enough brownfield sites to meet its housing targets? We can’t destroy the few precious green spaces that we have left.

By Hannah

MMU should be ashamed of themselves for selling land that was gifted to them, particularly following their participation, together with Manchester and Salford Universities, which researched the need for open spaces.

By Maggie Joan Haggas

I see all the Nimby extremists from the Friends of Rybank fields Communist group has turned up to comment. Laughable.

They are opposed to building bon brownfield land. They’re are opposed to building on Greenfield land. They’re are opposed to building withing settlement boundaries. They’re opposed to building new towns and villages. They’re opposed to pretty much everything.

By AJM