Step Places and Southway Housing Trust beat of competition from other shortlisted bidders Anwyl Homes, Morris Homes and PJ Livesey. Credit: via MMU

Southway/Step Places buys contentious Ryebank Fields 

Landowner Manchester Metropolitan University has selected the partnership to deliver around 120 homes on the 10-acre Chorlton site, bringing to an end a drawn-out sales process. 

Step Places and Southway Housing Trust beat off competition from other shortlisted bidders Anwyl Homes, Morris Homes and PJ Livesey for the Ryebank Fields opportunity. 

“We are delighted to have been chosen by the university as the lead developer for the site, alongside Southway Housing Trust,” said Gareth Smith, development director at Step Places.

“We understand that delivering new homes is about much more than delivering just bricks and mortar. It’s about delivering sustainable neighbourhoods and communities that people love.”

Karen Mitchell, chief executive at Southway Housing Trust added: “We are pleased to have joined Step Places to address Manchester’s desperate housing shortage.

“We are a local community-based organisation and will work in partnership to protect and preserve the environmental value of the site, in line with our values. We are passionate about co-production and will be engaging with local people and stakeholders over the coming months to deliver a high-quality, affordable scheme that responds to local needs.”

The partnership’s plans for the site include:

  • 20% affordable provision
  • Passvihaus-standard properties
  • Protection and retention of the historic Nico Ditch
  • Use of around a third of the site as public open space.

Southway has also recently acquired two more sites in Chorlton to redevelop into housing. The housing association bought Chorlton Picture House from Co-op earlier this year and is drawing up plans for a mixed-use scheme with 100% affordable homes. In 2021, Southway took control of Chorlton Irish Club and is progressing proposals to build apartments on the venue’s car park.

“Step Places and Southway Housing have an impressive track record of delivering sustainable developments,” said Karen Moore, chief operating officer at Manchester Metropolitan University. “This reflects the importance that the university attaches to sustainability. We are recognised nationally as a university where sustainability forms an integral part of our teaching, research and campus development.”

In 2020, MMU appointed Cushman & Wakefield to market the site for sale, sparking anger among some local community groups that use the land for recreational purposes. 

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 but has been occupied by members of environmental group Extinction Rebellion.  

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 that MMU does not have a “moral right to benefit financially from the proposed housing development”. 

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A real shame this wild site will be lost as a local amenity. Personally, I’m prepared to hear them out and it could have been a worse choice. Tin hats for the ward councillors though – the traffic on Longford Rd / Ryebank Rd – oof!

By Chorltonian

This is a fantastic site in a location which offers a walkable lifestyle. This area will make a wonderful home for new residents. We can’t keep building low density housing off roundabouts in the outer fringes without considering high-density housing in walkable locations first. Chorlton has everything you need and is built for walking and cycling, with buses and trams for the more occasional trips into town. Houses built here, as opposed to elsewhere, will mean less cars on the road. The reason you chose to buy in Chorlton is the reason why others should have the right to live here.

By Chorlton Hypocrisy

Good luck to them!

By Matthew

The image attached to this article says everything about the loss of the previously developed site as a local amenity – Chorltonians do not have a shortage of access to fantastic amenity space!

Developing this site will help contribute to ensuring that genuine green belt is preserved.

Best of luck to Southway and Step Places

By Anonymous

No doubt middle class Chorlton nimbies who stopped Stretford kids from having decent sports facilities will be up in arms about this proposal.

By Anonymous

Well said Chorlton Hypocrisy. . It’s a brownfield site at the edge of a park near acres of meadows in an area people want to live in when there’s a housing shortage. Ideally affordable of social housing but that’s probably optimistic.

By Harpsicord

Truly awful news and a sad loss of a beautiful part of nature. A loss to the residents of chorlton and the beautiful wildlife that inhabits the area.

Maybe look at the state of private renting in the area rather than taking one of the last few natural wildlife areas

By Jill

This proposed development is a fine example of everything that is wrong with the planning system in Manchester. Ryebank Fields are categorised as greenfield, not brownfield and should not be considered for development. If this goes ahead it will satisfy the greedy and selfish few and have a detrimental affect on the health of thousands of people in Greater Manchester and the flora and fauna in the area.
#climateemergency

By Dee Fyant

This is terrible news
Not a word about saving the trees and the Aspen Grove.
Manchester Council allocated the land for RECREATIONAL purposes when the then Polytechnic came under the council.
There is mention of fencing This was ultra vires as it was placed on Trafford Land.
There are so many examples of natural beauty on Ryebank Fields .
The orchids, the Oak trees and other rare trees.
It would break my heart to see the Aspen Grove be destroyed .
Nature has rewilded the area, notwithstanding the toxic poisonous land it has grown from, and given a habitat for Flora and Fauna.
Let it be.

By Member of the community

This land has been completely rewilded over the past 30 years. It is categorised as a greenfield site and therefore Manchester City Council must not grant planning permission for this or any development. There is a climate emergency and this should be the number one consideration above everything else. MCC should show true leadership on this issue and do it’s ethical duty and defend this beautiful green space with over 1,400 trees

By Wake up to Climate Change - defend Ryebank Fields

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