The green light has been given for a new £23 million park in central Manchester and it’s the first park to built in the city centre in 100 years.
Mayfield Park – the 6.5-acre space that has been described as a “beautifully designed and safe urban oasis” and has already been touted as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” – is part of a £1.4 billion development project in the city centre to transform the under-loved urban area between Manchester Piccadilly station and Mancunian Way, running along the River Medlock.
The government is to pledge £23 million to fund the building of the park.
Funds are said to be coming from the government’s £900m Getting Building Fund, which aims to increase jobs, skills and infrastructure in England in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and similar city centre park projects that are also set to benefit from the fund are planned in Leeds and Sheffield.
The ongoing Manchester regeneration project is being led by Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), the Department for Transport’s development company LCR, and property development company U+I.
It will also oversee the building of 1,500 homes, offices, a hotel, retail and leisure space, roads, cycleways and walkways in the city.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The truly transformative potential of the Mayfield project should not be underestimated, and this funding will not just unlock the opportunity to bring forward the new city park, but in reality paves the way for the entire Mayfield project to be delivered over the next decade, which is without doubt one of the best connected sites in the region, directly adjacent to Piccadilly Train Station.”
“To provide a new green space in the city centre at the scale proposed is a once in a generation opportunity to bring life back to an underused part of the city centre, and create a real destination of choice. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to consider the Mayfield site as a 24-acre new urban landscape, providing a green environment that accommodates significant buildings planned for the site – rather than the traditional idea of green space sitting adjacent to new development.”
“This is the sort of ambition we should be pitching for when we consider how we use urban space differently in the future to develop new green spaces for the benefit of our communities.”
“This investment is particularly welcome at a time when Manchester is focused on economic recovery following the pandemic [and] the Mayfield project illustrates a city determined to continue to grow and be successful for our residents, while generating significant employment opportunities.”
The announcement of the Getting Building Fund and the Mayfield Park green light has prompted a number of public bodies and grassroots organisations to say the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of outdoor spaces for communities.
There are now calls on the government to increase resources for existing parks following the decimation of local authority budgets over the past decade, as figures obtained from UK councils by Unison in 2018 found that more than £15 million had been cut from parks and green spaces budgets between 2016-17 and 2018-19.
Dave Morris, Chair of the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces, said that the lack of funding for park services had been highlighted by the increased use of public green spaces during the national lockdown.
He said: “Under the current public health restrictions, there’s been a massive increase in the usage of public green spaces, but there hasn’t been a comparable increase in the resources that is put into managing and maintaining these spaces,”
“We need to ensure that the whole population have access to a quality local public green space within walking distance of where they live. In many areas there’s a need for additional green spaces”.
Police arrest four men and shut down ‘incredibly dangerous’ cannabis farm in Salford
Police have shut down a suspected cannabis farm in Salford today, arresting four men.
Officers swooped on the property on Arthur Street in Swinton after finding evidence that the house was being used to grow cannabis plants.
The farm has been described as ‘incredibly dangerous’ to other occupants in the area.
Three rooms in the house were full of plants growing, with a huge amount of wiring surrounding them that posed a fire hazard.
The four men detained by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Salford Neighbourhood Team were subsequently arrested on suspicion of involvement in the production and supply of cannabis and remain in police custody for questioning.
Sergeant Peter MacFarlane said: “Locating a cannabis farm is a great result for the team who are gathering intelligence and working hard to crackdown on drug-related crime across Salford.
“Farms of this nature are also incredibly dangerous to other occupants in the area. The building itself is still being made safe due to the amount of wiring around the plants. Criminals running these types of enterprises have no regard for public safety and in these conditions, an electrical fault from bad wiring could easily start a fire and endanger lives.
“The arrests and seizures then go someway towards disrupting the supply of illegal drugs and the criminality that comes with it, and will also make our communities safer.
“This operation was intelligence led and a huge part of our intelligence comes from members of the public sharing information with us. If you have suspicions about a crime taking place please report it so we can take positive action and bring those responsible to justice.”
You can make a report by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency. You can also report via the LiveChat function on GMP’s website: www.gmp.police.uk
Alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Featured image: GMP
‘Groundbreaking’ new app to help get homeless people into work launches in Manchester
Homeless families across Manchester are set to benefit from a “groundbreaking” new service that gives them access to employment support.
With the ultimate aim of helping homeless people move out of temporary accommodation and into their own homes, Manchester City Council has announced a new pilot partnership with Beam – a social enterprise that fundraises on behalf of homeless people and connects them with a supportive online community.
Through Beam’s “innovative” app-based platform, homeless people can raise money for items that often end up being financial obstacles to them moving into a permanent home, whether than be funding equipment or training to help them secure stable and financially-viable employment, or towards a rental deposit, moving van, or other homeware essentials, and everything in between.
Donations come from people in the local community, and are shared out equally between participants, so that everyone reaches their fundraising target within an average of 17 days.
Having helped more than 1,300 homeless people “achieve their goals” since being founded in 2017, Beam isn’t just about funding, as it also has a team of caseworkers who provide one-to-one help with employment to those in need.
The caseworkers also lend a hand with searching for properties online, communicating with landlords, and booking house viewings, while Beam also works with a network of vetted landlords to help people find a home
The initiative also provides further support for at least six months after moving.
Over the next year, Manchester City Council says its pilot partnership with Beam will initially support 25 families who are living in temporary accommodation in the region, and move them into their own private rental homes.
Residents can be referred to the scheme by the Council’s housing teams, as well as other local services, and each person is assigned a caseworker from Beam, who then supports them on their journey into stable housing.
“No one chooses homelessness voluntarily,” admitted Councillor Joanna Midgley, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council.
“And when it happens, it can be devastating, which is why we are looking at a range of solutions to help people secure affordable and decent homes in Manchester.
“Our new partnership with Beam is an innovative approach to improve people’s life chances, supporting them, where possible, into sustainable jobs allowing them to move out of temporary accommodation and into their own homes.