Tim Heatley Manctopia
Heatley came under fire for his plans for Buile Hill Park

‘Manctopia’ Ep 3: People power blocks affordable homes 

Dan Whelan

In the third episode of Manctopia, which follows the stories of the “winners and losers” of Manchester’s property boom, it was the developer who tasted defeat for the first time, as Capital & Centric’s plans for 60 affordable homes in Buile Hill Park in Salford were shouted down by residents. 

In the first two episodes of the BBC Two series, the producers attempted to create a clear, often overly simplistic narrative around Manchester’s property boom where development and regeneration was painted as an unstoppable force, uprooting and outpricing people from their homes in the name of profit and progress. 

Concrete and glass towers, in the eyes of many, are nothing more than monuments to capitalism and greed. 

Touched upon in previous episodes, the crux of Manctopia’s penultimate chapter – 15 minutes shorter than the previous two shows – was affordable homes, of which there is a much-reported shortage in Greater Manchester. 

In an attempt to tackle this shortage, likeable Salford mayor Paul Dennett, also Greater Manchester’s lead for housing, tried to kill two birds with one stone in a plan that would see the development of affordable homes alongside the restoration of a derelict Georgian mansion in Buile Hill Park in Salford. 

The plan, hatched with Capital & Centric co-founder Tim Heatley, would be for the mansion, which has fallen into a state of disrepair over the last 20 years, to be renovated and brought back into community use diverting some of the revenue generated from the rented homes. 

Paul Dennett

Salford city mayor Paul Dennett is Greater Manchester’s housing lead

However, at a community meeting in September 2019, those in attendance were dismayed at the scale of Heatley’s plans. A total of 60 homes, to be built on land around the mansion, was too much to stomach. 

“This has totally come out of the blue. I was thinking of a few houses. I think we are going to come unstuck,” said Mary, an outspoken campaigner for the renovation of the mansion. 

Protests outside the council’s offices in Swinton followed and eventually Dennett, in a second community meeting, confirmed the plans had been axed and that no houses would be built in Buile Hill Park. 

Rather than stay at home and lick his wounds, Heatley attended the meeting, despite the criticism his plans, and he personally, had received on social media following the first meeting. 

Ultimately, the harm caused by building houses in a listed park was deemed by residents to outweigh the benefits the development would have brought, namely the creation of much-needed affordable homes and the renovation of a listed building. 

“It is a shame it failed. It is difficult to talk to people about change, people are scared of it.  

“Until we get a grip on how to [build affordable homes] and do it at scale, the problem is going to persist,” Heatley said. 

In this case, people power prevailed over the development behemoth but at what cost? 

Heatley and other developers have and will move on to find new opportunities, but for those who need affordable homes, this feels like an opportunity missed. 

Your Comments

Read our comments policy here

I saw in this episode the Mayor of Salford living in an affordable apartment? I think he is taking up housing for someone who is on lower income and can’t afford market rent.

By Meeseeks

I’m guessing this was filmed a year or two ago and Salford Council have now removed the funding for supporting the redevelopment of the Hall for another year. The 20 year period of dereliction is now heading to 22+years with no concrete signs of this changing. The creation of homes within the curtilage of the park wouldn’t be ideal but nor would the Hall falling down. It’s only got so long before that happens. Tough decisions need to be made.

By Harpsicord

The episode was the perfect lesson in the self defeating and universally negative impact of NIMBYism. The starting point was a desire to see the hall renovated. The only way to find such a thing is through value generated by develop which, in this case, brought the added benefit of 60 affordable homes. Despite this, the NIMBYist agenda was so strong that they preferred to see no affordable homes and no renovation of the hall. Such selfishness is frankly disgusting.

By YIMBY

If liverpool had a commie mayor like salford do you think we would get the same government favouritism and the bbc? No. We would be managing our decline as punishment.

By Anonymous

Does Salford have any other plots elsewhere where those 60 affordable homes could be built by Capital & Centric, in order to fund the Mansion refurb ?

By Just a Thought

I wasn’t even aware of the Buile Hill restoration plans despite living in the Quays, I was gobsmacked to see the residents turn it down. I’ve since discovered this occurred well over a year ago and it’s still derelict sadly. I suspect they may live to regret that one. Paul Dennett and Tim Heatley come over as very likeable and passionate people, it’s been generally positive for our sector and city and I’m not sure that would be the case had different personalities been chosen!

By Dave Collins

Yimby is right. Buile Hill Park is in a relatively wealthy part of Salford. Affordable in their eyes means struggling.

By Elephant

i think the local residents missed out on a real opportunity to get the old Mansion renovated for community purposes. the renovation would come at a massive cost – generated from the house sales / rental revenues and in the current financial climate, it would appear that the potential for future restoration is remote. Good to see that other social schemes were under way, though just not enough to satisfy demand. I saw Mayor Dennett as a real champion of social housing. Fair play sir!

By gmt

GM has an affordable housing problem as developers have been allowed to provide 0% affordable housing and scant s106 contributions. This, in turn, has pushed land values sky high which means affordable properties cannot afford to be built. I am pro-development but this whole scandal has been really poorly mismanaged (especially by Manchester and Salford).

By Observer

The residents of the area are perfectly entitled to want green space in their local area considering there is such a lack of it in Manchester and Salford. Yes, people want affordable homes but they should not have to compromise green space for it, especially in a period in time when the environment is so important for our future and people’s mental well being. If I remember correctly from the episode there are approximately 14,000 disused/abandoned buildings across Greater Manchester, maybe more effort should be focused there in order to plug the huge gap in the shortage of affordable housing. Also, maybe if the council decided to renovate the Georgian Mansion in the first few years of it being abandoned the cost of renovation would be much less than the estimated £4 million and therefore a scheme like this would not be needed.

By PROAH

Not sure if Tim Heatley managed to have any inputs on the editing… the BBC are making him look like a bit of a…

By The Old Faithful

Give Tim Heatley his own TV programme!

By John D

Place North West seem very unsettled by this series.

By David West

Seemed like a logical solution to the funding of the renovation of the Bulie Hill Park mansion. Nimbyism at its worst clearly got in the way and the council demonstrated weakness.

By Monty

There is plenty of brownfield sites around the city of Salford, just don’t use the site next to the buile hill mansion for house building. This mansion needs about 3 million quid to restore it back to its former glory. The mansion could be used as a wedding venue and a community cafe and be used by the public for a variety of reasons. The site around the mansion can be turned into lovely scenic beautiful gardens visited by thousands of citizens a week with a little crazy golf course in the gardens. There can be a bar/restaurant outside as well serving soft drinks and alcohol and lovely food, so citizens can admire the lovely gardens and the lovely park as well around them while they eat and drink. Buile hill park can also spruce up the kids play area and make it much better than it is now and also bring back the pets corner that went 20 years ago.This park and the mansion has so potential. That’s it.

By Darren born bred Salford

Tim Heatley comes across as a decent bloke to me. Shame about the Buile Hill proposal, such narrow minded views from the residents. “If they build homes in this park they will build homes in every park”… How is that a logical conclusion? Not every park has a massive disused mansion and acres of derelict land poised for development. They also talk about restoring the mansion like that’s their endgame. Restore it into what? No strategic thinking at all.

By Superhans

I was disappointed to see the Buile Hill proposal turned down, if only to see the alchemy involved in a 60 unit affordable housing scheme generating a site value of £4m!

We were later told the Council were building their own homes again but apparently they overlooked the prospect of doing this on their own vacant depot land within the Park.

By UnaPlanner

Just to put the record straight, these were not 100% affordable houses but a mix of privately rented properties and affordable rented for ‘key workers’, plus some available to the elderly as extra care facilities. A we all know, ‘affordable’ rent is not affordable!

By Stephen Kingston

Locals moaning that it’s been derelict for 20 years are going to have it derelict for 20 more now. Well done. Why not convert some of all these empty buildings stock into affordable housing?

By John W

If slapping 60 ‘units’ in the middle of a public park is the answer to a) the housing shortage, and b) the protection of historical assets, then there is something seriously wrong.

By Loganberry

@Darren born bred Salford – Every article that mentions a high rise apartment scheme in the city centre you go on about needing affordable housing, but here we have an actual feasible scheme, where the full project is affordable housing, on a brownfield site and you are opposed to it. Hypocrisy at its finest!!

By Phil McKrackin

“Place North West seem very unsettled by this series.”

PNW in siding with developer shock!

By Disgruntled Goat

I think Manchester`s attempt at being London`s mini-me is going to lead to its demise.

Cities need to retain their identity. Liverpool for example with its maritime history, still evident. The Royal Albert Dock, and many historic buildings making it uniquely Liverpool.

By Liverpool romance

@PROAH

Lack of green space in Salford? It’s 60% green space and one of the greenest boroughs in the UK.

Manchester isn’t bad as whole either. It’s the city centre which is severely lacking and needs serious attention.

By Anonymous

Phil mckrackin @ Affordable rent is not affordable.. Have you ever been to buile hill park and the boarded up mansion. That bloke who likes himself in front of the tv Tim heatley was planning to build properties on the huge old park depot next to the old mansion. Where you live would you like properties being built in the centre of your local park. Local people didn’t like it. People have got rights to object.. On the subject of appartments around the city of Salford and Manchester none are affordable for what you get. The deansgate square devolpment of 4 high rise on the Hulme side of town that the tallest is 64 storeys high, none are affordable. On Rightmove website, the very cheapest flats are about £300,000 to £450,000 and there is 3bed priced at about £600,000 and the higher you are on the block of flats the higher the price. Meanwhile in Salford on the swanky middlewood locks flats prices are £240,000 to about £265,000 for a 2bed and about £300,000 for a 3bed flat. These are not Affordable. I’m off to the beach now.

By Born bred Darren having a break in n wales

I’m sure the Salford Star contributed to the current situation, winding up the local residents and probably misrepresenting the proposals. In what way is affordable rented key worker accommodation not affordable Stephen? You’re mixing up different types of affordable provision there. Also, does it really matter if there was private rented properties mixed in there too? Surely the overriding objective was the restoration of the mansion. The money has to come from somewhere which is something the NIMBY residents and the Salford Star don’t seem to have realised. They’re very adept at moaning and being confrontational and saying what they don’t like but don’t seem able to come up with any constructive workable solutions.

By Real Daz Salford

The best thing about the PNW Manctopia comments section is, again, the salty scouser comments about how Liverpool is better than Manchester. Over here, we bathe in these kind of tears, and barely even notice as they desperately try to stay in our slipstream.

By Lee

I’ve got to say I’m enjoying the manctopia debates. My non northern mates are flabbergasted by the scale of development in the city, I just assumed everyone knew what was going on here.

By Dave Cornell

Salford council should get their act together. This has been boarded up twenty years and nothing is being done.

By Bobby

@ Bobby – the only chance of funding the refurbishing the mansion was dispatched by the selfish, narrow-minded NIMBYs, thus depriving the whole community of what could’ve been an amazing asset (as well as a load of affordable homes) and leaving the area blighted by an increasingly derelict building that now has no means of being improved. It’s self defeating idiocy.

By YIMBY

The buile hill mansion has been boarded up for twenty years. When is the council going to bringt the mansion back to its former glory.

By Regular northerner.

If you actually watch this episode again the proposal was to build the houses on land within the park that already had derelict buildings on it. As such you could argue that none or very little of the existing green space was going to be lost.

By Manc man

Do we really believe they would have been affordable or could that just have been a ploy to get public buy in for building a housing estate in a park.

By GetReal

The thousands of Salford people who voted against Heatleys’ proposals to build private residences in the Park did so as it was rightly seen as the “thin end of the wedge”. Anyone who understands the history of Salford’s previous disastrous building policies knew that once started, development would eventually continue and yet another public space would be lost. The accusations of “Nimbyism” made below are not only completely wrong but are insulting to the real people of Salford. Nobody that I know is against development of the City, Paul Dennett or Tim Heatley. The facts are that an alternative “prime” building space – on a brownfield site in Salford – WAS offered to Capital and Centric. As part of this deal, C&C would renovate the Mansion in Buile Hill Park. Why was this fact not made clear in the programme? For reasons unknown – it wasn’t. Some of your contributors here are obviously ignorant of the facts., They are trying to create a negative picture of Salfordians and those who have worked for years to get the Park (and its mansion) brought back to life. At the same time they portray certain property developers as saviours of the City. I wonder why? Vested interests?

By Salford Lad

The affordable housing thing is a joke anyway, you live where you can afford, in a home you can afford, there’s nobody who cannot afford a home.

By Dan

The programme manctopia with Tim heatley is on tonight. Tonight’s programme is looking at collyhurst residents fighting housing development around collyhurst. It also features swanky expensive deansgate square where it costs a arm and a leg to buy a flat and it also again features Tim heatley yet again. Is he the only property developer working on blocks of apartments around the city centre and city of Salford

By Anonymous

It’s hardly comes as a surprise , the current Salford Mayor seems great for Expensive boxes to rent Skylines , but not so great on homes for Families social rent , But chuck in an expenses paid trip for a Salford Mayor to the south of France so much for Labour credentials

By Excelsior

GHIA (The Green infrastructure and the Health and Wellbeing Influences on an Ageing population) produced a recent report highlighting the importance of the natural environment for healthy ageing; this report was produced by the University of Salford in conjunction with The University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University. Both Salford and Manchester Councils would appear to be ignoring the recommendations in this report as they have both proposed building houses on parkland and open spaces but Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of our parks. The whole country needs more houses but, to-date, there has been little support given to intergenerational housing as proposed by @3rdagers, Sparkle Housing Co-operative and https://www.facebook.com/3rdager/ I keep hearing that planners are thinking ‘outside the box’ but there would appear to be very little of that taking place; ‘the-powers-that-be’ need to wake up and at least make their boxes bigger. My last comment also applies to the diminishing square footage applied to new builds; time for builders to have to specify the square footage of residential properties, allowing residential renters/purchasers to make a sensible comparison; if it’s good enough for commercial premises why not for our homes?

By Maggie Joan Haggas

There should be NO HOUSING built in Buile Hill Park. This is an extremely important Park for the LARGE Local Community. Build housing somewhere else to rent out to pay towards the restoration of the mansion. Property developers would flatten and build over ALL of Buile Hill Park if they were allowed to – to make money …DO NOT LET THEM!

By Anonymous

The area where it was proposed the houses be built is a derelict area. Old storage buildings. It is not a green space open to the public, it is a scruffy piece of land that has no purpose at present. The so called mansion will end up having to be demolished. For too many years there have been protests against it being redeveloped. The council have no money to redevelop it. It was not viable as a museum.It needs to be a private profit making business but the protesters don’t want that. They have no viable suggestions for the use of the mansion. It could have been turned into a conference centre/hotel years ago if they had not interfered.

By Marion Madden

Leave st wilfreds site as the lungs and help of environment please!

By Pat