Council gives controversial city centre development the green light

Manchester City Council has approved the construction of five new office buildings on the area known as New Islington Green. 

The workplace campus, to be located on Pollard Street, East Manchester will comprise five buildings, each up to eight-stories high, accompanied by two acres of public green space. 

General Projects, the developer behind the construction, says the new development will play a key role in the city’s economic revival from the COVID-19 pandemic.

They say it will not only unlock 3,600 jobs, but will also provide a £5m investment in more than two acres of green space.

The proposals, however, prompted significant backlash from Ancoats residents.

Alan Good, member of campaign group Save New Islington Green and Liberal Democrat candidate for the Ancoats and Beswick constituency, said a petition against the plans received more than 5,000 signatures, but “was ignored by the Executive Committee.” 

He explained the redevelopment of the green is connected to wider concerns regarding public health and the environment.

In particular, he cites the existence of unsafe cladding present in some Ancoats apartment buildings, as a big concern. 

He said: “One could make the argument that if you don’t like the development on your doorstep, then move.”

But he added the unsafe cladding means many residents are unable to sell their homes.

He said: “Many people are trapped.

“I’ve had had many residents tell me that New Islington Green provided them a much needed respite during lockdown.”

Fellow campaign group Climate Emergency Manchester, reiterated the need for natural spaces in the city, and said: “The City Centre is a concrete jungle.

“Manchester City Council had an opportunity to demonstrate commitment to green spaces which improve people’s physical and mental well being.”

Despite this, General Projects promises that the workplace campus will be underpinned by it’s car-free policy, low carbon transport links and that it will deliver a 30% net gain in biodiversity.

It aims to set a new standard in the built environment for sustainability.   

Some residents however, remain unconvinced.

During a livestream of the Council’s Planning Committee Meeting one resident said: “Money in exchange for the last spot of green space in the city centre?

“I’d rather have the grass thanks.”

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