Opposition to the proposed redevelopment of Ryebank Fields in Chorlton was “by far the single biggest message” to come out of the latest consultation on Manchester’s local plan, the city council said.
The consultation, which ran from February to May and canvassed public opinion on Manchester City Council’s overarching development strategy, received 562 responses in total, 44% of which were in relation to the Ryebank Fields proposal, according to council documents.
Covering 10 acres next to Longford Park, Ryebank Fields is owned by Manchester Metropolitan University.
MMU plans to sell the land to a developer to build up to 70 homes, a proposal that has met with criticism from some local residents.
The council received a total of 245 responses opposing the potential redevelopment and respondents asked the authority to protect the site by designating it as an area of local green space under the local plan.
Just two consultation responses were in favour of the redevelopment plans, according to the council.
Save Ryebank Fields, a group of campaigners opposed to MMU’s plans, implored people to contact Manchester City Council when the local plan consultation launched in February, providing an email template for would-be respondents to outline their various objections.
In September, MMU confirmed that asbestos had been found on the site but said it intended to press ahead with plans to sell the land, which is being marketing through the agency Cushman & Wakefield.
Campaigners claim the land is not fit for development due to the presence of the harmful material and the fact that it was previously used for landfill.
Local residents also use the fields recreationally, but MMU has restricted access to the site following the discovery of asbestos.
While Save Ryebank Fields stands against the redevelopment plans, another group, Chorlton Community Land Trust, is hoping to at least influence the direction of any future development, which it considers is the most likely outcome for the site.
The focus of the trust, which has almost 300 members, is to ensure that any proposed development contains ample provision for affordable housing, protection of community space and a commitment to low-carbon development, according to its chairman Steve Goslyn.
Speaking to Place North West, a spokesperson from MMU, said: “The university has begun marketing the Ryebank site in Chorlton for sale and has been encouraged by the interest from housing developers in purchasing the site to meet Manchester’s requirement for housing. We have invited initial expressions of interest by 23 October.
“The development framework adopted by Manchester City Council in 2019, requires any potential developer to commit to a participatory approach and embark upon extensive community consultation ahead of the submission of a planning application. We look forward to actively taking part in that process as the landowner.”
Manchester City Council has been contacted for comment.