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Co-op And Council Under Fire Over Road Plans

Residents see red over compensation scheme

Written by . Published on September 14th 2011.


Co-op And Council Under Fire Over Road Plans

RESIDENTS and business owners near the Co-operative's new NOMA development are upset about a compensation scheme for noise pollution and congestion which they claim is being used to flout planning regulations.

Plans to reroute several roads around the new Co-op site - Miller Street, Corporation Street, Aspin Lane, Angel Street and Rochdale Road - are due before the council’s planning committee this week and are recommended for approval.

"The Noise Regulations Compensation Scheme will be put in place and operated by Manchester City Council, ensuring its independence, and compensation costs will be covered by The Co-operative Group.”

But more than 120 local residents have submitted an objection to the plans along with a document entitled ‘Response to the Miller Street /IRR planning application’ signed by 17 local residents, complaining on several grounds, including noise and congestion.

The biggest complaint, however, is about a proposed compensation scheme for residents run by the city council and the Co-op, which objectors claim means ‘the decision has already been made.’

‘Within the application it makes reference to a compensation scheme being set up, which suggests that the decision has already been made and this is just a paper exercise which has to be seen to be followed,’ says the planning report.

‘No comprehensive mitigation proposals have been put forward showing how apartments might be sound-proofed, how much this will cost and whether the total cost will be funded.

‘Detailed proposals of the compensation scheme should be provided, including which properties will be included and how it will be funded – the Council (i.e. taxpayers) or the Co-operative before the application could be granted.

‘An independent Company should be employed to carry out this task. Currently it is suggested that it will be run by the Council and the Cooperative which is a conflict of interest.’

‘Concern is expressed that mitigation is taking the form of compensation rather than the scheme not going ahead.

‘An Environmental Impact Assessment found that 914 properties will experience noise pollution and planning guidelines, policies and strategies all state noise is to be seriously considered and applications refused if it is to have a serious impact.’

Residents have also complained that the consultation was ‘an exercise in PR’ by the Co-op and that the plans lack coherency.

‘It is clear the scheme is being driven by the Co-operative, for the Co-operatives own agenda and the Council are simply along for the ride in order to get the appropriate plans passed,’ said one resident.

Some residents also objected to the scheme using £20m of public money, despite the Co-op banking profits of more than £800m in the last two years.

A spokesperson for The Co-operative Group said: “Developing NOMA in to a truly mixed use development will bring growth and jobs to the residents of Manchester. Building The Co-operative Group’s new head office – NOMA Phase One – will result in the creation of 4,000 jobs over the period of construction; 69 per cent of those created to date are taken by workers from Greater Manchester. 

"In addition, nine per cent of jobs at the new head office are taken by apprentices, which highlights our commitment to young people and training. Local businesses are also benefitting, and so far 47 local firms have been awarded contracts. 

"As we continue to shape and build NOMA, we will use the same values and principles that we have used in building our head office, which will result in continuing prosperity for local businesses and continuing employment for residents.

“The proposed mitigation and compensation scheme has been available for public viewing for some time via our web site – www.engage.coop - where it clearly states that it would become relevant 'in the event that planning permission is granted'.  

"The proposed scheme represents best practice and is specifically designed to offer affected residents a clear method to secure any compensation to which they may be entitled. We go to these lengths because we are a responsible business that makes every effort to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and honestly. 

"The Noise Regulations Compensation Scheme will be put in place and operated by Manchester City Council, ensuring its independence, and compensation costs will be covered by The Co-operative Group.”

You can view the full report here.

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

the Whalley RangerSeptember 14th 2011.

The co-op is the biggest employer in Manchester (apart from the universities?).

A section 106 agreement or similar could easily balance what the applicant and what the council are paying of what is undoubtedly a big, exciting scheme.

Is this in place?

Robert OwenSeptember 14th 2011.

Is this good 'place making' or just a banal corporate ghetto? But who are we to question such things when so many jobs are at stake?

AnonymousSeptember 14th 2011.

Robert - 'jobs at stake'?

Have the Co-Op said that if they won't allow these buildings to be built then they business will fold?

City cntres have changed, people now shop at out of town retail parks, superstores and shopping malls. Businesses don't need to be in a city centre. Take some of the law firms now out near the Reeebok, take MBNA at Chester Business Park etc

If we are serious about cutting congestion in this city we need to discourage the old fashioned view of attracting as many people in to the city centre as is viable.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 15th 2011.

I think you need to turn your argument in it's head. Are we better having employment locations in City centres, is served by tram, train, bus, park and ride and car parks or in an out of town business park where the only access is by car?

the Whalley RangerSeptember 14th 2011.

anon
...and that's a good thing? You must be kidding me. Attract as many as you can!

Employees need to get to work, costumers need to get to their service providers. Where better than bang next door to a train station in the centre of a 2.5m conurbation?

A minimum of cars is required.

If we had a public not private transport policy in this country, it would work even better in favour of the fare paying passangers.

People will soon wake up when they realize how well trains work/ affordable they are in other countries (not just in the first world). These nations are more competitive simple because the infrastructure is in place.

It's the city, duffusSeptember 14th 2011.

Anon's probably one of those NIMBYs who wants a quiet city centre just because he's got a two bed flat there made out of cardboard walls...

tuppenceSeptember 14th 2011.

As for cardboard walls, well yes, some of the walls may be thin but this is part of the point - planning regulations would have not permitted flats of those specification to be built next to a ring road. Also, flat blocks near busy roads are also not permitted to have living accommodation in their ground floor. However, MCC and the Co-op refuse to recognise this conflict as a factor when it happens the other way round.

Also, as stated above, the EIA has not been undertaken along best practice guidelines. The most baffling example of this is that the base readings that have been taken to set the level of traffic noise now (so that the difference in noise caused once the re-route is finished can be measured) have not been taken on Angel Street - the road that will be affected - but on Miller Street itself!

Everyone I have explained this to cannot seem to make sense of this - how can you measure the affect of diverting Miller Street traffic down Angel Street, when you are not measuring ON Angel Street but on the road that is being moved! Of course this is therefore going to show no difference and therefore they can get away without paying any compensation.

Also, there is no effects to jobs here - I wholeheartedly support any project that brings jobs into Manchester. Co-op are not going to turn round and leave Manchester when they have almost finished their new headquarters. No, the reason for this move is clear - it makes the land recently gifted to Co-op qualify as "city centre" and therefore they are able to charge higher rates for rent there. Simple.

tuppenceSeptember 14th 2011.

The first part of my post didn't send for some reason, it was meant so start:
I'm not sure what you're trying to say "It's the city". Are you seriously saying that because we live near the city centre we have no rights if someone proposes something that drastically affects our local area? In the Co-op's own assessment this is going to affect 915 properties, the actual total number affected is far higher. This is the size of a large village.

AnonymousSeptember 14th 2011.

For a start, only half of the ring road (the south bound side) is being diverted towards Angel Street.

As I understand it, the whole rationale for this is to provide a vastly improved public space and better linkages to the new site that in turn makes surrounding development plots more attractive to investors and occupiers. In other words without these changes you would not realistically be able to develop anything like the quality or quantity of commercial space on the site (unless you want something that looks like the Green Quarter!) and the social and economic benefits would be lost. These are value judgements, yes, but to me they make sense. I believe the proposal was for the Co-op and any other firms locating to the site would effectively be paying back the costs of the new road layout via a form of land tax where the future increase in business rates that the development generates repay the initial public outlay.

Of course there is going to be an impact on neighbours, but change is inevitable in the centre of a major city and particularly one where we wish to see a strong and vibrant economy. Forcing business to relocate to isolated business parks actually undermines economic growth in the long term and is costly and unsustainable. We need to do what we can to promote jobs and investment in sustainable locations and should be grateful that the Co-op are promoting such a high quality development with such a generous and high quality public open space at its centre - not something that is in abundance in the centre of Manchester.

The negative impact of the road are effectively shared - north bound stays where it is, south bound is moved towards Angel Street. But any negative impact should be more than offset by the benefits of living next door to a major new open space and (hopefully) high quality new development. Without doubt house prices will rise on the back of these changes, notwithstanding the limited impact of the road.

Bearing all this in mind, some of these objectors do look rather self serving and NIMBY. On a more flippant note, the apartment blocks that line Angel Street are also atrociously ugly and do more to despoil the qualities of Angel Meadows and the urban quality of the area than the new road layout. More's the pity the Co-op didn't extend their plan to clearing them too!

AnonymousSeptember 15th 2011.

When this great big development pushes up the price of these flats will the owners be giving some compensation back to the Coop and council who funded this development which will help to enrich local apartment owners?

Hero
ktfairySeptember 15th 2011.

There is just no need to move the ring road - half of it will still be in the same place and therefore people will still need to cross a road to get to the site. As it stands at the moment you cross the road with one pedestrain crossing and you will still need to cross the road with one pedestrian crossing when half of it is moved - so there is no benefit in moving half of the road. It will just anger those who live in the area and those who use Angel Meadows park - one of the very few quiet open green spaces in the city centre.
The only purpose of moving the road is so the Co-op can say the land is within the inner ring road and therefore within the city centre, thus boosting the rents that can be charged for new offices built there. With their very large profits I don't believe the Co-op need the money.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 16th 2011.

Nonsense. It's far easier for pedestrians to cross one lane of traffic going in one direction than to cross 4-5 lanes going in both directions. Compare Miller Street as it is now, to Princess Street for example. It's off-putting and the reasons for splitting up the ring road are totally valid.

Calum McGSeptember 16th 2011.

NOMA must be built. Get on with it!

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