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Jill Burdett on the residents who would prefer a restaurant to a nursery

Published on April 3rd 2012.


UNHAPPY rumblings from some of the fun loving residents at CHIPS with news that the front half of the ground floor could become a kiddies nursery.

Much like the rest of the area it’s an expensive jigsaw that needs finishing.

Original plans had it earmarked for a bar/restaurant but now an application has gone in for an early years’ child care centre catering for a dozen babies and 60 toddlers and pre-schoolers.

You can imagine how the clubber’s hearts sank. Especially when they learned that it would also open at weekends from 8am to 5pm.

The building has its own Facebook group, started after recent troubles with the energy efficient combined heat and power plant that left them without hot water for a spell, and there is already talk of a petition.

Only from some though and there is no doubt that provision for child care would be welcomed by many in the wider area and it fits in with the ultimate aim of New Islington being a family community with the new Free School and everything.

The application is from Rob and Kelly Little who would like to open the Little Learning Ladder this summer.


In a letter to residents Kelly says: “In line with Urban Splash’s regeneration of New Islington making it a neighbourhood and community for a mixed group of residents from young professionals to families we are endeavouring to enhance the community amenities by opening a Child Day Care Nursery within Unit 1 of Chips complex – the large unit under the cantilever.

“We intend to submit a planning application in the next week to gain approval for the change of use from a late night bar and estimate that we will be fully open for business by summer 2012.”

There is a promise of 17 jobs – 15 full time and 2 part-time and a planning document in support points out that there is plenty of nearby parking on the rough and ready pay and display right outside the building for parents to use as a drop-off.

It doesn’t say how it is going to fence off the wide terrace which will become a playground, to stop the little people falling into the new canal arm.

It seems a shame that no bar/ restaurant operators have come forward prepared to invest and fit-out this unit that could and should have been a welcome watering hole for New Islington residents, canal users, walkers and anyone generally out for a mooch about.

Maybe the state of the area has been a factor. The much vaunted and really quite wonderful park is still not open to the public, the marina is shielded behind wire mesh, Ancoats Dispensary – Grade II listed – continues to disintegrate slowly behind scaffolding and the approach to Chips is along pock-marked Mill Street and a pot-holed car park. And more wire mesh screens the canal.

At the moment the whole area is a disjointed mess and while it’s amusing to watch a canal barge manoeuvre itself under the new walkway bridge it still doesn’t actually link anything together.

Much like the rest of the area it’s an expensive jigsaw that needs finishing.

You can see detail of the nursery plans here.

Residents of Chips can request to join the Facebook group herehttp://www.facebook.com/groups/ChipsResidents

And you can make your views known by e-mailing - littlelearningladder@sky.com

You can follow Jill Burdett on Twitter here. 





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

AnonymousApril 3rd 2012.

No bar would invest in such a run down half developed area to develop 6,000+ sq ft. (even if it was rent free the rates and fit-out costs would be prohibited) surely it would have been better to allow a temporary short to medium term letting (unless that is what urban splash are doing) until the market picks up and the area is regenerated enough to take the investment of a large bar restaurant. saying that, if the unit was facing being empty for many years to come, a nursery at least gives the unit some activity!

AnonymousApril 3rd 2012.

I live in Chips and have done for a Year, it is becoming a nightmare, more students moving in partying at all hours everyday, leaving us who work listening to thumping music all the time- charging for parking but the car park is a disgrace. The place is falling in to disrepair with shoddy paint jobs and now a kids nursery underneath?! are they joking! I intend to move out soon and just feel sorry for the people who bought the flats! It should be lovely but they have never even finished the landscaping- fences still cut off the paths.

AnonymousApril 3rd 2012.

Isnt one of the problems with city living that it only caters for one demographic? a nursery is a great idea and just as good as any bar or restaurant.


3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 3rd 2012.

would you want x60 kids in your block of flats? and the added pain of the parents parking?

tomegranateApril 4th 2012.

I would. Children bring energy and liveliness into a place.

AnonymousApril 4th 2012.

Because 60 drunks or the kitchen staff smoking out the back next to the smelly end of the extractor fans are so much better to live next to?

AnonymousApril 3rd 2012.

This article is VERY well written! I also live at Chips and anyone who passes can see the state of the area with regards to issues- half demolished building (old pharmacy) open canal...fences covering pathways...surely a recipe for disaster for a nursery???

1 Response: Reply To This...
the Whalley RangerApril 4th 2012.

Just lock 'em up like we do in secondary schools. Sign in in the mornings, big fence round it, bingo.

Calum McGApril 3rd 2012.

I am pretty sure they could keep the kids under control... I think this is a good idea. As someone who lives above restaurants (with all the drunkeness and late-night shouting and noise that you have come to expect in the city centre), I welcome a bit of diversity. These tiny tots may have to cross Beiruit to get to the nursery, but eventually, when the area's complete, they'll have a pretty cool outlook on life. My nursery school was crap. This one could be pretty special! Good luck :D

AnonymousApril 3rd 2012.

Not to be negative but the area has not been completed since the building was in approx 2009- good luck if the nursery can sort that out, I would welcome it! Think the negativitiy comes from building/area issues not the fact a nursery has applied.

AnonymousApril 3rd 2012.

@Anon above - perhaps you would like to get involved in the campaign to try and stop Urban Splash demolishing the "old pharmacy" of the Listed Building of Ancoats Dispensary, given that you live there? Just type "save ancoats" into Facebook or Petition Online.... Just a thought.....

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 3rd 2012.

I will do, it is such a shame as they literally have half demolished it then left it, workmen were there a few months ago then left it in a much worse state. I think some students from Salford are featuring it in their work as they are often in the car park filming and asking for views.

AnonymousApril 3rd 2012.

Its not "half-demolished" as such - bits of it have been taken down for safety reasons and put into storage until somebody deems to want it

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 3rd 2012.

anonymous 2 here.... have you seen it lately! i am not sure many people would just think 'ooh look bits have been taken down for safety reasons' i mean come on!

AnonymousApril 3rd 2012.

erm ok I think you are being kind there...if that's not half demolished I don't know what is! have you actually seen it? and do you pay a lot of rent to live in Chips? Ask the guys who have the front flats and see what they think of the state of it?!!

LindaApril 4th 2012.

From the promise of a revitalised area with the historical and the new combining, Ancoats is beginning to look slightly dilapidated and I can sympathise with the young people who have bought or rented flats in the area expecting the area to be 'the place to be'. As a resident in Ancoats and with a special interest in the historic Ancoats Dispensary I am encouraged by the suggestions for this historic building i.e. walled garden using the existing brickwork etc. A space for local people and workers once home to sit in the summer as well as having some green space. With regard to the nursery, it is a fact of life that this is the new generation and will probably be of enormous benefit to young parents who work in the city. A nursery would certainly bring colour and vibrancy to what is in danger of becoming an demolition site. I do agree that along with all this residential stuff people need places to eat, drink and enjoy a Sunday morning coffee without having to walk into the Northern Quarter.

Michael ThompsonApril 5th 2012.

I think the New Islington/Ancoats scheme is a much better shape than the above article suggests. I have lived in a number of flats in Manchester city centre for the past 12 years and absolutely adore city centre living. In this time I have (hopefully!) matured from a hedonistic single lifestyle to getting married and being blessed with 2 young girls. Having no intention of living outside the city centre, I moved to the New Islington area 6 months ago. Yes it's a wee bit disjointed and unfinished but let's look at positives. The infrastructure is slowly getting there (metrolink, new marina, bridges, canal pathways etc), a health centre is here, newsagents, hairdressers, cafe bar at Islington Wharf, even a tanning salon. We now have the promise of a new primary school and nursery. The Halle Orchestra are moving to ancoats.It's all pretty incredible and we are so lucky that my wife and I can still walk to work.

I'm a biased when it comes to a bar/restaurant versus nursery at Chips, a nursery is more of an immediate need. And I do love a few pints and my food but we have a great range of bars/restaurants towards the city. Also there is a pretty decent cafe/bar open in Vivid on the Ashton canal.

My view is it is becoming an exceptional area for the partied out city centre dwellers who are looking to begin family life but don't quite fancy suburbia yet. Rant over.

1 Response: Reply To This...
April 15th 2012.

Completely agree with you, I have a young daughter, and I moved here before she was born as like yourself, I wasn't ready for the suburban lifestyle and commute to work and this area suited my immediate needs. The area is coming along nicely, slowly maybe, but we're not in the middle of nowhere, so there is plenty of places to escape. I don't need to move my daughter into another nursery at present, but I have seen plenty of other young parents around this area in the new apartments and a nursery would be a great addition and benefit for many people. Anyone else who wants to party, can pop to Sankeys over the road.

EmilyApril 5th 2012.

I agree with Michael. I am a single parent in my early 30's with a young daughter living near the area of New Islington. At the moment I am having to go out of the City Centre towards the Hospital to drp my daughter at Nursery and then come back in for work. A nursery here will be more convenient for me too. Dont get me wrong I still love thinking im a party animal at times, and the 5 minute walk into town to enjoy my partying isnt a big ask! Suburbia is still not for me!!!

Kelly LittleApril 5th 2012.

My name is Kelly from LittleLearningLadder. After reading the article through numerous times, I have concluded that it isn't as negative towards our plans as first thought.

LittleLearningLadder will be an Early Years Educational setting with the emphasis on education for children up to 5 years; rather than a soft play facility offering sessional play.

With reference to the comments around the noise the nursery would create. Before submitting the planning application we employed a Planning Consultant along with an Acoustic Engineer who carried out a noise assessment on the building and surrounding area. The results of this assessment concluded that the noise levels from a nursery would be significantly lower than that of a bar/restaurant.

In relation to outside play, we will be providing a secure recreational area where a maximum of 12 children at any one time will be able to utilise supervised by the key workers.

We have indeed applied for weekend opening. BUT with local residents in mind we have reduced the hours of opening to 8am - 5pm, and the number of children to a maximum of 25. We are offering this service to parents where weekend working is mandatory. For example Nurses & Emergency Services etc. This particular service will only be available to parents of children already attending the nursery during the week.

With regards to the parking/dropping off of children. As well as using cars, parents will also have the option of using the New Islington tram stop in close proximity. And would we rather have cheaper parking and an uneven surface, rather than the area being leased to a multi national who will increase the charges for the sake of a Tarmac surface and white lines? I know what I'd prefer!!

We wrote to all the residents at Chips and to the local business's informing them of our intentions for unit 1, and giving the opportunity for feedback/comments. To date we have not received any feedback or comments either positive or negative. We do however welcome any feedback or questions you may have. Please get in touch at littlelearningladder@sky.com

Kind regards

Kelly Little
On behalf of Littlelearningladder

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