Rethinking the Trafford Centre/Charrington Moss/Manchester Green Belt Changes In Light of Intu Collapse

The collapse of Intu has left a legacy of large car orientated shopping centres. These include the Trafford Centre sold some years ago by the Peel group. They must be relieved. In a carbon neutral world is there still a role for such dinosaurs? The site could probably be bought for a low value by a development corporation, and represents a real regenerationn opportunity.

The Manchester Metrolink has just been extended from Salford Quays to the Metrocentre. If such centres, like here, Lakeside and Metro Centre have a future it is as new mixed use city centers around car parks redeveloped as high density housing, taking advantage of their tram links and good infrastructure. Quite a few malls in America have been redeveloped in housing led schemes. There are some underused sites nearby and adjoining in Trafford Park which could be included in a masterplan. This also would require a dramatic upgrading of the metrolink service frequency.

The Trafford Centre is around 2 miles from Salford Quays with the Metrolink running along it – Village Way/Park Way. There are some spectacular poor uses of land along it like a giant palette storage site. The most obvious thing to do us to extend the growth corridor which runs from Manchester City Centre to Salford Queys to Trafford Park through rezoning sites along the metrolink for high density housing.

The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework/Plan proposes a number of deletions of Green Belt. In the North of the metropolis there is at least a plan – to provide the major new employment areas the area lacks unlike the south of the Metropolis where most of the growth has been. I woint argue with that. In the south it has been more scattergun. A few big problem sites, like Charrington Moss and a few heavily promoted sites by major landowners like Peel Estates which have proven highly controversial, some being wetlands/moss like much of the low lying land on the South Eastern edge of the city. To my mind much of this doesn’t make sense as a strategy. It is just making up the numbers not forming a coherent post carbon Manchester.

Charrington Moss was the main dumping ground for Manchester, especially ‘night soil’ by the 1930s it was reclaimed became a very underused industrial park and was eventually bought by Shell, who have now moved out. It is now a planning mess with a very odd Green Belt Boundary reflecting the mess. It is mainly a major developed site in the Green Belt. There has been proposals to develop 6-7,000 houses here plus employment. The risk is however that it would become just the kind of site criticized by Transport for New Homes; entirely car dependent feeding commuters onto the M60. There are too major opportunities however.

Charrington Moss used to have a tram link to Salford Quays. The alignment though has been lost to the spur to the M60. However the most direct connection to Trafford Park would be a new alignment alongside the Manchester Ship canal passing by a new rail station on the Cheshire Linew between Irlam and Flixton. The second opportunity is to create a tram on the former Cheshire line spur south of the site connecting to Timperley, Cheadle and Stockport – a long held local ambition.

With High Density Housing each of these schemes could have over 10,000 units, significantly reducing the Green Belt take in South Manchester.

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