This is an update on our current thinking about Ryebank Fields and the sort of development we would like to be involved in. We understand the draft of the Development Framework is now completed and our councillors said they would want residents’ views on it to feed back to the Director of Housing and the Exec Member for housing, before they sign it off. We therefore hope to meet with our councillors soon.
We continue to believe that Ryebank Fields will be sold for development but think that the sale of the land simply for private profit and the loss of its beautiful trees would be a travesty. However, the situation is more nuanced and would urge local people to consider our view. As is the case all over the country, good quality affordable housing in Chorlton is out of reach for many and gentrification is forcing local families to move out of the area. We believe that we should look creatively at ways to deliver the homes that people need, which will enable families to stay together in the communities in which they have grown up, whilst also protecting and enhancing our natural environment.
We’re proposing setting up a Community Land Trust, and have joined the CLT network,as a way of ensuring the land and the affordable homes are stewarded by members for ever, and can never be sold for profit.
It is clear that many landowners and developers seem more interested in profit than creating sustainable communities but here we have a chance here to do something different. Working with local residents, Chorlton Community Led Housing Group is developing ideas for the more sympathetic redevelopment of the land, which includes retaining trees, creating new diverse habitats, protecting the historic Nico Ditch, and working with the adjacent Longford Park to encourage and support biodiversity and wildlife across the wider area.
We would like to see a range of size and tenure of homes that are affordable to local people and meet local needs. Energy efficiency and exemplary design would be prioritised and the development would be designed to discourage the use of private cars. We would also incorporate age-friendly living and cohousing principles, which would deliver shared spaces for people who want to build and be active in their own community. By letting the community lead the process, profits would be used to build better quality and affordable homes, to improve local services and to ensure community stewardship of the land in perpetuity. As a charity, MMU are unable to simply give the land away and must secure ‘best value’; however, they are in a unique position to support the community to deliver, for itself, the type of housing it really needs.