In the Council’s Policy EN10 of its Final Core Strategy under ‘Safeguarding Open Space, Sport and Recreation Facilities’, it states that the Council will seek to ‘improve the quality and quantity of accessible open space, sport and recreation; …improving the network of existing open spaces, increase accessibility to green corridors, and enhance biodiversity’

The ecological report says the greenspace is ‘low value for wildlife’. However, the report failed to consider the essential role of Hough End as a ‘green corridor’ (which Manchester City Council says it is committed to providing, according to its Citywide Open Spaces Sport and Recreation Study). Reducing and fragmenting Hough End Fields by developing on it further and fencing off areas, will reduce the area’s value and use as a ‘green corridor’ and poses a risk to biodiversity. This includes key protected species (e.g. RSPB red listed starlings and swifts) that use and migrate to and between Hough End and other nearby green spaces. In addition, loss of such greenspace reduces ability to mitigate effects of climate change in Manchester and reduces the ability of the land to capture and store carbon.

Policy EN10, states that development proposals on existing open spaces and sport and recreational facilities (e.g. Hough End) will only be permitted where ‘equivalent or better replacement open space, sport or recreation facilities will be provided in the local area’. It also states that only proposals on existing open space will be considered if the development ‘will be ancillary to the open space, sport or recreation facility and complement the use or character’. The applicant’s proposals actually reduce the amount of open space and reduce the recreation facilities on the site. There is a loss of any youth sized pitches and the existing use and character of Hough End Open Space should be maintained as open, accessible to all playing fields and not fenced pitches where access is restricted to only those able to pay.

On this basis the proposal is unacceptable and should be refused.

  • Reduction of open space

The Open Space Assessment identifies that the proposed development would reduce the current open space at Hough End Fields due to the increased car parking hardstanding and the footprint of the new building extension. Although this is stated as a “small reduction”, any reduction in open space is unacceptable. It is not clear how the 0.1h reduction calculation has been derived and the applicant should provide details of this to allow full public scrutiny.

In any event this reduction in open space is unacceptable.

Furthermore, there is a proposed reduction in the number of football pitches – all of which are identified as adult pitches – with no provision for children’s pitches (as there currently is). The suggestion that this development would promote grassroots football among children is, therefore, unconvincing.

On this basis the proposal is unacceptable and should be refused.