Here’s an interesting press release.
‘At last Lancashire County Cricket Club (LCCC) and its partners have submitted plans to Trafford Council for the re-development of Old Trafford cricket ground and the surrounding area.
Ultimately, the question that should be considered is this. Will a successful destination supermarket and a revitalised cricket ground be better long-term for Stretford and Gorse Hill than the crumbling edifices of the Stretford Mall and the present LCC?
‘If approved, the development will significantly boost the Club’s prospects of bringing the Ashes back to Old Trafford and generate huge economic benefits for the area.
‘The proposals are part of an innovative sports-led regeneration strategy for a 50-acre mixed use neighbourhood in Old Trafford.
‘The proposals are being brought forward by a partnership between the club, Trafford Council, Ask Developments and Tesco, and will transform the historic venue into one of the country’s premier sporting destinations.
‘The plans include a Tesco store with approximately 100,000 sq ft retail sales floorspace providing over 500 jobs, half of which would be guaranteed for the local long-term unemployed.
‘The development will bring investment of at least £70m into parts of Trafford which suffer from low levels of economic activity and employment. It will generate an estimated 71,000 additional visitors to Old Trafford each year, creating a further £1m per year additional spend in the local economy. It will include new facilities offering a host of educational and training opportunities for the local community.
‘Phase 1 of the development is already under way, with new conference and events suite, The Point, under construction and due for completion in July 2010. The new designs for Phase 2 by architects BDP aim to retain the heritage and history of the famous ground by enhancing the existing pavilion, as well as adding stunning new player and media facilities, conferencing, hotel facilities and an extension to the highly successful indoor Cricket School. Two new grandstands will ensure a capacity of 15,000 capable of rising to 25,000 with temporary seating. There will also be floodlights and a screen showing action replays.
‘The partners have undertaken a detailed consultation exercise with local residents to ensure the proposals secure the maximum regeneration benefits for the Borough. The major landowners in the area, including Stretford High School, Trafford College, Greater Manchester Police and Kelloggs have also been part of discussions in formulating the wider framework.
‘The partners have created a website to share information on the redevelopment and what it means for the region. The site provides details on the proposals, images of how the redevelopment would look as well as ways to pledge support for the scheme. www.oldtraffordashes.co.uk will go live as of 11am Friday, November 13.’
Sounds perfect: an obvious move.
Well it’s not so cut and dried. There is of course a protest group about the proposals. This is called No Mega Tesco for Stretford. They have already arranged meetings and demonstrations and will organise more.
They are particularly aggrieved that while planning permission for a 48,000 sq ft store on the same site currently under discussion was granted, in 2006 permission to increase it to 88,000 sq ft was refused. Yet now the Council are backing a store of more than 100,000 sq ft. This doesn’t to the protesters make sense, unless you factor in emotional blackmail.
In other words they feel that Tesco, LCCC and Trafford MBC are tying planning permission in with an emotional argument about the Ashes returning to Old Trafford. And this is irrelevant to the question of whether such a large Tesco is needed.
Certainly the new Tesco will ring the death knell for Stretford Mall (nee Stretford Arndale Centre). But that bell has been ringing loud and clear for a decade. The way consumers shop evolves every couple of decades, and the Mall is a mess, with a defunct market hall. It’s a dinosaur. It shows how short-sighted planners were in the sixties when they destroyed existing street patterns to build low-grade, dingy covered shopping areas.
It would take a lot of money and imagination to change it around in an area where the demographic has become more middle class in recent years.
Ultimately, the question that should be considered is this.
Will a successful destination supermarket and a revitalised cricket ground be better long-term for Stretford and Gorse Hill than the crumbling edifices of the Stretford Mall and the present LCC?
To an outsider the answer may appear obvious. For the locals - some of them at least - maybe the status quo or at least a less big Tesco, and little cricket ground renovation, might be the preferable answer.
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