Article published: Wednesday, May 6th 2009
The building site that is Manchester City’s former stadium is silent and inactive. Five years after the demolition of the Maine Road stadium in Moss Side, the hoardings are still up. The Council awarded a contract in 2004 to Lowry Homes to build 477 new homes in Moss Side and Rusholme as part of a massive regeneration strategy for South Manchester. So where are they?
The housing project is a partnership between the local regeneration team, part of Manchester City Council the the developer. Although some homes went on general sale from February 2008 building appears to have stalled. There is no completion date available on public websites and the Council declined to comment.
Despite numerous requests by MULE, Lowry Homes also refused to comment.
Local representatives have been equally mute. One local councilor admitted that she was “not up to scratch” on the matter and others failed to reply.
Local residents feel frustrated by the lack of progress.
“There has been no contact at all from either the Council or Lowry,” a resident of nearby Great Western Street said before complaining at the lack of engagement:
“We wanted local people to be involved in the construction of the new homes, but this doesn’t appear to be the case.”
While it is true that the construction sector has felt the brunt of the blow of the unfolding credit crunch, it is doubtful that this is the sole cause. When the project was officially unveiled in 2007, the property market was in full boom and still expanding.
The development met controversy right at the start due to the lack of affordable housing it offered. Initially it had been praised for promising three-quarters of the new homes to members of the public with a link to Moss Side or Rusholme and the rest to-core sector workers, such as nurses and policemen.
Local residents nevertheless voiced concern that only 60 out of 477 homes would qualify for shared-equity plans. Aimed at low-income earners, the plans rely on an organisation – like a housing association – buying part of the house and the occupier buying the rest. The associationÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â acquires an interest in the house and receives the cash value on sale.
The Moss Care Housing Association, who are operating the scheme were also unable to offer any comment as to the current state of the development.
However the story isn’t all gloom. In February this year local MP Tony Lloyd opened a training centre set up by Lowry with courses to be delivered by the Manchester College. This will offer 30 training opportunities for local, unemployed residents, enabling them to take advantage of two-year brickwork and plastering diploma courses.
The Council ran a street-naming competition last year in which local residents were invited to make suggestions. ‘Blue Moon Way’ was the eventual winner; but it may be until the next such lunar appearance that the street sees the light of day.
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