To little, to late. South Manchester has lost numerous open spaces and wonderful Victorian houses to the greedy property developers. Atleast it's a start.
Flats boom is at an end
THE days of developers building luxury apartment blocks on every available piece of land are over.
That was the claim by council bosses this week after new guidelines were adopted aimed at preventing south Manchester from turning into a concrete jungle.
The stringent new rules will tell Manchester City Council planning chiefs to reject any flat developments proposed outside the district centres - and to instead favour family housing.
They come after a number of high-profile cases in which builders have targeted green spaces for housing blocks and large family homes have been converted into apartments.
New figures have revealed that of all the new buildings erected across south Manchester between April 2004 and March 2005, 70 per cent were flats. Val Stevens, deputy leader of Manchester City Council and a Chorlton councillor, said: "This is a clear message to developers that the party is over.
"We have now reached the stage where south Manchester is becoming a concrete jungle and these regeneration plans haven’t come a moment too soon.
"The last few years have seen a tip in the balance between the number of houses and flats and it has now become very clear that the scales have gone too far in favour of flat developments.
"What we need are more family homes and we also need to ensure that we keep the character of south Manchester’s suburbs, rather than just filling them with bland developments."
The policy came into force just in time for one of Didsbury’s architectural gems, the Rookery. Its gardens had been earmarked for development for 24 new apartments by developers Median Homes.
An appeal against the council planning committee’s refusal of the application was recently rejected.
The decision, which was viewed as a test case, is now being hailed as proof that the new policy will be effective at holding back the tide of new developments.
Mary Paul, chair of Chorlton Civic Society, said she hoped that there would now be more of a focus on building family homes.
She added: "I am very pleased that we won’t be seeing any more flats for the time being.
"They are not what is needed.
"Family homes should be the main concern - there just aren’t enough of them."
The new rules fall in line with the aims of the council’s South Manchester Strategic Regeneration Framework, a final version of which is expected to be produced this summer.
Angela Harrington, acting head of South Manchester Regeneration, said: "The emphasis behind new housing schemes should be to maintain and increase the levels of family housing in the area, using the city council’s recently-approved planning policy to control how and where apartments are built.
"This will apply equally to converting larger family homes into apartments."
The new rules come as one estate agents claimed that the market was already saturated with apartment developments.
Laura Heywood, of Emma Hatton estate agent on Barlow Moor Road, Chorlton, said: "What we are seeing is that a lot of flats are still empty and just can’t be shifted.
"In stark contrast with this there is a desperate need for family homes."
Councillor Neil Swannick, executive member for planning, said: "We want developers to take notice."