The second preplanning consultation relating to Nutsford Vale in Gorton took place at Crowcroft Park Primary School on February 28th at 4pm.
Concerns relating to MCC’s proposals to build an academy school for 1,800 children on the former deep landfill site at Nutsford Vale in Gorton fall mostly into three categories:
1. Ecological. The loss of green space and details of what areas of the Vale will be lost considering the existing layout, which trees will be lost and so on, depending on where the buildings and parking are situated on the chosen site.
2. Local. Can nearby roads deal with the predicted traffic and how such predictions and conclusions have been arrived at.
3. The suitability of the Mathews Road site for a school, or indeed any construction, given the Environment Agency record ( https://goo.gl/HfgkZn ). The record indicates that the site contains amongst other things Industrial Waste from factory processes, Special Waste that has hazardous properties and is defined in the Special Waste Regulations 1996 (such properties may be flammable, irritant, toxic, harmful, carcinogenic or corrosive) and Liquids/sludge Waste like Industrial wastewater, sewage sludge and chemical wastes mixed with municipal solid waste.
Two pictures were on show at the well attended Public Consultation, yes, two. The same pictures were replicated four times as if to make it look like there was more information than there actually was – they filled the room with the same two pictures four times. One drawing showed why they’d opted to site the school in the south west corner of Nutsford Vale and the other showed why they chose the partivular configuration of buildings and amenities in detail.
Anybody taking time out of their day to do some public duty by participating in the consultation were left disappointed, asking themselves why should they bother participating in a consultation that denies more information than it reveals. There was no data on expected levels of traffic, no details of local infrastructure enhancements and improvements that will help deal with whatever their predictions might be and there was no information to indicate how they’ve arrived at the specific conditions they have calculated, nor were there any best and worse scenarios for local tenants in a very densely populated area that already has existing traffic issues. The fact that local families had endured decades of living next door to an industrialised clay pit, saw the vast cavity turned into an unregulated local authority landfill for industrial and household waste, only to now see their property values dive again beyond their control as the plan to bring hundreds of extra vehicles twice a day to the district proceed regardless of the localised environmental impacts.
The third group of people, probably the largest group, have a whole host of questions based on the Environment Agencies own public data which indicates the likely existence of unknown and unpredictable cocktails of carcinogens, municipal solid waste and unspecified factory process by-products. It’s alright, we were not re-assured to hear, Laing O’Rourke had assured the council that they can deal with it. They don’t yet know what they have to deal with, but are confident they can.
The builders Laing O’Rourke have carried out a desk top exercise to ascertain which soil contamination tests they should carry out but are unwilling to share the content, result or even a summary of that exercise – it will remain secret. I wonder why that is? Samples have recently been taken for some contamination tests on behalf of Laing O’Rourke, not on behalf of MCC. – that’s right, the company that stand to profit from the construction of the school are being asked if it’s safe, how likely do you think they are to give unbiased and independent advice?
We don’t know how they’ve decided which chemicals to test for, we don’t know what chemicals they’ve tested for and we don’t know what the results are. Furthermore, there’s only one more ‘consultation’ before it goes to planning (Chapel Street Primary School, 9th March, 4pm – 9pm) and the results may not be available for that.
When is a consultation not a consultation? It’s when a large swathe of concerns expressed by those attending do not even enter into conversations, they refuse to discuss them. Those concerns were known but completely ignored, the council and Laing O’Rourke have found a way around discussing some legitimate and serious concerns relating to the health of 1,800 children. If MCC will not enter into an informed and civil debate about the future health of 1,800 kids, then what is it for, really? They might as well discontinue all consultations if they are not meaningful at all, they’re fake. Merely manipulated, strangulated conversations with a scope so narrow that they are practically pointless. They’re just using the number of people that attend as a stat to illustrate interaction regardless of the fact that the majority of those that did attend left entirely uninformed and unsatisfied.
The entire left hand side of the large green area below the pin will be built upon if the planned 1800 pupil academy is given the go ahead.
It begs the question, what is any consultation really for if it isn’t an exchange of some kind, if it isn’t a meaningful and honest consultation why do they persist in taking the citizens of this great city for a merry ride, knowingly galloping roughshod over peoples’ opinions and views.
The gap between Manchester City Council and Manchester citizens is getting wider with each passing planning application. MCC are disregarding the many increasingly agitated voices that are all concerned with our built environment, and our right to be properly consulted about developments that will have a direct influence on our city and on our lives.
Seen below the Save Nutsford Vale Group made their feelings clear during a recent protest against plans to build a school on the old landfill site which has become a valued green space in a densely populated area.
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