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Castlefield: time to dream

Jonathan Schofield and the next Castlefield meeting

Written by . Published on July 21st 2008.

Castlefield: time to dream

There will be a meeting at the Castlefield Hotel this Thursday to discuss the way forward after last year’s debates. Again this will be chaired by Councillor Pat Karney.

There are ideas floating around for good driven events not driven by alcohol: maybe working with the RNCM and others for a classical festival, or making Castlefield Hay-on-Wye for a week with a second-hand book fair.

During this meeting a residents committee will be appointed, the position of local landowners and businesses will be addressed and hopefully made clearer. Work undertaken by the City Council subsequent to the meeting last year will be described, as well as future works discussed. The timeframe for G-Mex metro station to be re-named Castlefield will be talked through, as will more significant improvements.

Confidential started the process of the re-examination of this neglected area in 2007. Now we think it’s time to dream big.

We reckon that Castlefield, with its combination of heritage, striking architecture, viaducts and canals is ripe for being Manchester city centre's green heart.

We think Castlefield should bloom.

There are numerous pockets of land in the basin area which are at present redundant or derelict. These, along with the walls of several viaducts, are blank canvases waiting for something to decorate them.

Castlefield could be like this

The aim would be to make these spaces drop dead gorgeous through a series of floral and green ‘rooms’, as garden designers say - think RHS Flower Show at Knutsford. In other words a rose garden along the redundant viaduct parallel to the Metrolink viaduct , a box garden on spare ground close to the footbridge over the Bridgewater Canal, a herbaceous border alongside the Roman Fort wall. Meanwhile there should be schemes for creatively lighting the astonishing viaducts, and canals. Local businesses could sponsor these small gardens, they could be maintained by the residents and others. There are precedents for all of this.

At the same time there are ideas floating around for good events not driven by alcohol: maybe working with the RNCM and others for a classical festival, or making Castlefield Hay-on-Wye for a week with a second-hand book fair. We could put even put in some of the outdoor exercise machines recently installed in Blackley (similar ones which this writer saw being very well used in a Santiago de Compostela park). And, at last, a city centre playground.

These are all manageable and acheivable initiatives. The plan for Castlefield should not just be about getting it well lit, with suitable paving, in other words consolidating what we have. It should be about much more than that.

The changes put place on Thursday should see a beginning of that process.

The Castlefield meeting takes place 7pm for 7.30pm at the Castlefield Hotel on Liverpool Road.

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20 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

JoanJuly 21st 2008.

Just wonder if anonymous[1-n] are willing to reveal their identities. I think it helps if we want to discuss ideas openly. I'll be at the meeting on Thursday; I've been to the previous meetings and not seen anyone with a paper bag over their head. I think it's safe to 'come out' as a Castlefield supporter.

jonathandJuly 21st 2008.

didn't there used to be a market type thing years ago on the august bank holiday weekend?

NickJuly 21st 2008.

I was lucky enough to live in Castlefield a few years ago (Citygate) and I really appreciate ManCon's efforts to stand behind the place.It could be a real gem. In many ways it is, but so many ways it's a ****hole. The council need to get hold of these companies who are trying to explot it for money and make them put something back - or indeed the council could just try keeping the place nice and clean.I'm about to go a bit Daily Mail, but when you consider the taxes/rates that the residents of the place must contribute, they're REALLY not getting their monies worth are they?

Jonathan SchofieldJuly 21st 2008.

No, you misunderstand. The last thing we need is a grant or two because it can all be done without that. But if some idiot lottery grant that's not going to the Olympics is available then let's just take it and run. Still this does not need a grant. Moreoever 'the ravages of an urban environment' is bollocks. If there is ownership there is care. If Castlefield, the businesses and the residents, own the changes then the bad boys of Ordsall or wherever haven't got a chance. Let's not be cowards over this and run away from urbanity - that's happened too much in the last forty years. Give 'em beauty, blow 'em away with beauty. Watch them come. Low maintenance schemes are exactly the first word of this sentence.

Jonathan SchofieldJuly 21st 2008.

I'm a big fan of events 'driven by drink' but sometimes we don't need them. And actually this does not mean there would be no drink only that there should just be good wines and real ales. Fighting lagers would be out. This changes the emphasis of an event. Let's go for quality in everything we do, always quality otherwise literally forget it. Over the course of the next year that's what we're going to push for on Confidential. Castlefield needs to be better - simple as that. It's a backwater and an embarrassment at present. Let me digress for a second and say that the planting in the centre of Parsonage Gardens is what we're talking about, now we just need the rest of that space done as well. And then imagine ten parcels of exqusitely planted land throughout Castlefield all on a different theme. We could actually look at the history of small gardens in Britain...theme them, get a grant or two.

Mr. In The DarkJuly 21st 2008.

Erm, have Peel decided that it is a good idea to turn off the outside lights at/around Jacksons Wharf, it feels very dark around there at night nowadays??? or has it been like this for a while.....I wonder what is going to happen to JW next to make it even more attractive for the planning inspectorate. Hopefully some people at Peel HQ will be back at a drawing board come 26th November....

AnonymousJuly 21st 2008.

'get a grant or two', I guess that is what a lot of how much can be achieved boils down to, the availability of funding, that together with the pliability of the landowners. The concerns I would have is about how hardy & indestructible these gardens would be & how long they would last the ravages of the urban environment, it would certainly be interesting to look at comparable successful schemes & bring back the best elements.

AnonymousJuly 21st 2008.

I was getting worried there, hadn't heard any progress on this....I can't see movement is going to be made on either JW or Quay Bar sites for a while, JW needs to be tidied up again & the Quay Bar site definitely needs landscaping if development is delayed. Also with the Potato Wharf scheme partially mothballed for the moment, we are going to have a concrete shell there for a while. 'Plot G' the land by the bridge has already made a start on the gardens theme all by itself, Castlefields own wild nature garden!...think it needs taming though.I know this is all about longer term thinking but i'm certainly eager to see some steps forward.Anyone know how feasible 'a rose garden along the redundant viaduct' would be?

AnonymousJuly 21st 2008.

It all sounds fantastic. However there is an awful development already taking place by Crosby. They now want to increase it. This is making Castlefield worse!

Thoroughbred MancJuly 21st 2008.

'Call Antony Gormley'. As you do.

AnonymousJuly 21st 2008.

Are you going to publish the action points from this meeting? Or are they still to be agreed? I am intrigued as to the current position of landowners & the timeframe for any works going forwards....

Choice Bar and RestaurantJuly 21st 2008.

That all sounds great and it is good to see it moving again after we missed out on an opportunity to do something during this glorious summer that we are all enjoying.Now if we only get Jackson Wharf and the ex Quay Bar area moving at the same time we could really tidy up this gem.How about an event where the big screen works? Or allowing United to bring their trophys down!

AnonymousJuly 21st 2008.

Yep, the messy grassed area next to the bridge & JW is developer owned, can't see it being feasible to develop this site for the foreseeable future though & planning permission for this 'Plot G' site has expired.

southsideJuly 21st 2008.

Er Jonathan, what's wrong with events "driven by drink"?

AnonymousJuly 21st 2008.

Castlefield does need tidying up, and I'm delighted that we get to have our say in how this should be done. The area needs more green areas, and I agree with making it Manchester's 'green heart'. As a resident, I think developing more park/open green sites would be key. Something needs to be done with the space by the bridge - and I think a communal park/garden would be perfect for this site. Has this land been bought by a developer already??

Thoroughbred MancJuly 21st 2008.

The Hay-on-Wye book fair idea is a great one. I heard while researching my A-level human geography dissertation on the regeneration of Castlefield back in 1993, that Jim Ramsbottom had a vision for the area to hold a weekly market (similar to Camden) but the Council vetoed it? Shame. I think the area's prime for it. If we are to stand shoulder to shoulder with our European counterparts I agree we need to start thinking a little more culturally. Perhaps we could call Antony Gormley (or a local upcoming artist) and commission a joint art installation created together with the local community? These things don't have to cost if a prominent platform is being provided infused with imagination and vision. I've always felt Manchester's missed the mark when it comes to our waterways and ways in which we might be able to interact with them. And if you're particularly geeky like me, there's a movement called 'ecopsychology' that might be of further interest while you're exploring this area. It explores the potential psychological impact disused/underutilised/undeveloped urban habitats may have on the community. Google James Hillman and Ecopsychology for further information.

AnonymousJuly 21st 2008.

I have always enjoyed the Serpentine Gallery's pavilion scheme in London's Kensington Gardens, their annual summer event in which a new temporary architectural structure is built & exists for 3 months then taken down, I wonder how something like this would translate to Castlefield.

AnonymousJuly 21st 2008.

Indeed there used to be a bank holiday market, pictured here: http://tinyurl.com/castlefieldmarket

AndyJuly 21st 2008.

for an event in castlefield literally 'driven by drink' coming up in September check this out http://www.becks.co.uk/fusion.html

Angie. ResidentJuly 21st 2008.

I am relatively new to the Castlefield area so Thursday's meeting will be my first. I am very interested to hear the plans for the area though and as I actually look out on to the derelict JW/carpark, I am eager to hear what plans are in place for this site. The grassed area beside JW is a mess and we do need to pull togetehr to get this sorted.

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