Survey results released today (Friday 17th December) show the high level of opposition to the council’s plans to build two artificial football pitches and over 150 extra car parking spaces on Hough End Fields. 
The survey was undertaken by the Save Hough End Fields group in June & July 2021 to understand people’s usage of the fields and their views on the council’s original proposals.
Of the 208 respondents:
- 85% opposed the softball/baseball complex (which has since been abandoned)
- 80% opposed the artificial football pitches
- 83% opposed the 167 extra car parking spaces
- 83% opposed the removal of 6 adult, 2 junior and 2 mini grass pitches
- 91% opposed the removal of 23 trees and other wildlife habitats
When asked what they use the fields for, only 11% of respondents said they used the fields for organised sports. The most popular uses of the fields were:
- Walking (69%)
- Mental health / wellbeing (64%)
- Bird-watching / nature (41%)
And the most popular reasons for valuing the fields were:
- Provides a peaceful outdoor space to relax (88%)
- Experiencing wildlife and the natural environment (76%)
- Seeing the open skyline and sunrises / sunsets (63%)
Ali Abbas of Save Hough End Fields said:
“The results of this survey show the importance of Hough End fields to communities across south Manchester – and not just for the sports teams who play there.
“It’s clear that having this unique open space to take some exercise, to meet up with friends or just to enjoy nature plays a vital role in supporting people’s mental and physical well-being – even more so during the pandemic with restricted access to sports and leisure facilities.
“So It comes as no surprise that there’s such strong opposition to the proposals to replace open grass pitches with fenced-off artificial turf pitches and additional car parking, and in particular to the felling of trees and loss of wildlife habitats.”
Peter Lythgoe of Save Hough End Fields added:
“We support the council’s stated aim of getting more children active. But in a climate and nature emergency, it’s totally irresponsible to do this by replacing grass and trees with plastic and concrete, and by encouraging more car journeys that will increase carbon emissions and air pollution.
“For the sake of our children’s health and our planet’s life support systems, we call on the council to withdraw its misguided plans and protect our precious green space.”
The council’s original plans for Hough End were withdrawn in July after a public outcry with over 2,500 signing a petition against the plans  and around 2,000 responses to the planning consultation. 
The council published revised plans in late November, which no longer include the softball & baseball complex, but still propose two artificial pitches and 152 additional car parking spaces. 
The pre-application consultation on the revised plans closed on Friday 10th December, and the council will soon decide whether to proceed with a new planning application.
Notes to the editor
- The report can be downloaded from: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1S2O22OR698zHG__KR8e6fZpp4K-2xPXT/view?usp=sharing
- The Save Hough End Fields petition can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/manchester-city-council-save-hough-end-fields
- The original planning application can be viewed at: https://pa.manchester.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=QR4UBTBCG3T00
- The revised plans are available on the MCRactive website: https://www.mcractive.com/news/hough-end-community-consultation-events-in-manchester