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The Castlefield Debate – a result

Castlefield controlling and directing body to be set up as a result of Wednesday’s Confidential debate

Published on August 2nd 2007.

The Castlefield Debate – a result

Debates are usually just chat: useful and diverting maybe but often not leading anywhere. Manchester Confidential’s Future of Castlefield debate in Dukes 92 was different. There was energy, fierce opinion and commitment to push forward change in this vital city area. There was a result too – more of that later.

The Manchester Confidential Future of Castlefield debate will deliver an organising body for the area. Castlefield will have its partnership just as Piccadilly has, of council, residents, businesses and developers.

The panel were Cllr Pat Karney who has responsibility for the city centre, Sharon Barnes of Castlefield estates which owns Dukes 92, Eastgate and much else in the area, Gordon Reid of City Co, the city centre management company, Jon Grieves of Choice Bar and Restaurant and Phil Griffin, writer and broadcaster, who’s article on Manchester Confidential lit this particular bonfire.

All spoke with passion about this very special area. Castlefield’s historical significance is almost unparalleled: it’s the place where Manchester was born in AD79 but more importantly where the oldest passenger railway station in the world lies adjacent to the first industrial canal of the modern age. It’s one of those few places where you can say with confidence that the world changed here. It also provides Manchester with an opportunity to give itself a spectacular central amenity of gardens, festivals, museums and other attractions. The shame at present is that the area is failing to measure up to both the heritage and the potential.

Phil Griffin talked about the need to reintroduce Castlefield to the city centre, to not build anything else around the canal basin, to focus on the waterfront and to grow the unique atmosphere of the area. Cllr Karney deplored the private ownership in the area, asked Peel Holdings to donate a presently boarded up parcel of land to the community as gardens, and underlined the need for residents and council to work together.

Sharon Barnes had a clear series of proposals from signs into the area, the re-naming of G-Mex station on the Metrolink as Castlefield, better lighting, improved paving, new buildings to be the right scale and set well back from the water’s edge, a full programme of events not revolving around alcohol and the construction of a children’s play area in the Roman fort area. Jon Grieves made similar points also emphasising the need for family based activities, festivals and markets but not only in the summer months also in winter. Ground floor usage of interesting shops and restaurants should be encouraged to give life to the area as well. Gordon Reid also wanted more independent businesses in Castlefield and for the area to be fully integrated into the city centre.

All the panellists called for a body to be set up in Castlefield to coordinate policy with regard to the future, to make proposals and carry them through. There is no doubt that this will now happen, the Manchester Confidential Future of Castlefield debate will deliver an organising body for the area. Castlefield will have its partnership just as Piccadilly has, of council, residents, businesses and developers. It will instigate change for the better.

Castlefield cannot be allowed to slide anymore. As Sharon Barnes said the city has to recognise and understand the ‘gift’ they have inherited. We all do in Manchester. Castlefield should be the automatic choice for residents and tourists when they want a traffic free stroll complete with stirring civil engineering and architecture, beautiful gardens, a great play area and interesting entertainment. That it is not is, in civic terms, a tragedy and shame.

Over the next weeks interested parties will come together and formally set up the Castlefield body. This will not be a talking shop. As with the debate last night it should deliver results. It simply has to.

There will be more about the debate in Sleuth tomorrow.

What is your vision for Castlefield? Let us know below.

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

Kris AdamsAugust 2nd 2007.

The Quay bar, as already stated could have been the gateway to what should be a thriving area of both leisure and creativity. We all know that as well as appreciating the past of this city to move forward its strengths should be encouraged and I really believe this is in the arts and creative communities dotted around the city.Does anyone know where Peter Saville is on all of this? Creating a new cultural identity for Manchester? Surely he'd be very involved in this...

Eddy RheadAugust 2nd 2007.

The 'highlight' for me was Tory Boy trying to give Mrs Thatcher credit for getting Castlefield started! Seriously though - i'm all for passion and opinion but the hard facts are that things need to be done. Although not the one with the loudest voice Sharon Barnes spoke the most sense. Real, tangible solutions that can be done very easily and be done now - without endles debate and negotiations. Its telling that the best bit of Castlefield is the bit operated by Sharon and her company - a private company shaming the City Council in how to do public realm. I thought Phil was a bit unfair picking on Cllr Karney - he isnt blameless but there are others more guilty of neglect. Karney talks a good game but he should be knocking on a few more doors in the town hall. I had a question which i wasnt able to ask.Who is the person in Direct Works that we have to ask nicely if they can buy a few tins of paint and bloomin paint that bloomin bridge?

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2007.

Hello I'm a 3rd year architecture student at Manchester University. Our latest project was based on Castlefield. We had to carry out extensive research on the site and produce a site analysis. Then design a programme for a building in the area. I have to say that I agree that Castlefield is like a forgotten gold mine and it needs to come alive to its past glory. My idea is to design a building that will have all the activities missing from the area compressed in one place, both day and night activities that concern all age groups, Therefore helping the area to become a self sufficient organism and work as a community. In this way more people will be drawn in the area and speed up the process to its revitalisation. This website has been very helpful and informative as it it great to hear about what the actual residents would like for their area. I know that you are all busy people and Im sorry to bother but I would appreciate it if you could provide me with some more information. How many residents are there in Castlefield approximately? what kind of activities do you think that are missing from the area? Thank you very much for your time and If anyone is willing to help me let me know shoot some more questions.. thank you very much..

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2007.

How is the Castlefield Partnership coming along ManCon???

Rob AdlardAugust 2nd 2007.

Eddy - if I'd been able to make my point it may have made more sense to you. It was a good debate, and I agree Sharon had some really great ideas. I know there'd be opposition to it, but I think the idea of the Castlefield tram stop name is a great idea.You can't possibly look at the facts of how the area began and not be left with soe questions. There were a number of amazing contributions from key people such as Jim of course, but the Central Manchester Development Corporation was a major player, and without them it wouldn't have happened. Many people don't know it existed, and don't know that it wasn't to do with the city council. It provided the area, as Sharon described, with many great things, then the housing boom came, and then oversupply, and now the decline which prompted this debate. The question of how and why the council didn't carry on the great work the CMDC began is valid, and our city all the weaker if we can't even ask questions such as this.

katAugust 2nd 2007.

In reguards to the boarded up triangle I would just like to add to the complete idiot who allowed it to happen, I am now scared to walk down the side of it in the morning on my way to work and in the evening after a scary incident involving a drunk hanging of the railing from jacksons learning down on me............ you aren't to blame for louts but certainly for the assault/murder/rape waiting to happen

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2007.

I think that the cobbles are great - give it an authentic feel - but they pose a problem for girls in high heels - reducing traffic in off the locks

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2007.

and the centrepoint of dpercussion was . . . bring back peter saville

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2007.

I dont understand why an award winning building - canteena or quay bar as it was known has not been offered more protection - arent they now turning it into more flats - it should have been the gateway to castlefield drawing people in off the locks, whereas now its going to be one of three towers facing into deansgate

cllr.pat karneyAugust 2nd 2007.

Sorry --spelt Jon like my brother John.Apols.

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2007.

Get involved in the redevelopment plans process for the future phases of the Potato Wharf site, see http://www.potatowharfconsultation.co.uk for further details.

JennyAugust 2nd 2007.

With reards to Mtthew Sutcliffe's comments, I very much agree point 2. especially! Manchester would benefit enormously from such an area, somewhere safe, green and pleasant-an escape the the hubub, concrete and general loutishness everywhere else. I'm fortunate to have Angel meadow on my doorstep and am aware of all the hard work various groups (FOAM, Groundwork, MCC and others) have put in (and continue to do so) to make it such a lovely place! Why cant something similar be set up in Castlefield-I and I'm sure lots of others would be prepard to muck in to make Castlefield 'work' for the city and its residents.

Pissing In The WindAugust 2nd 2007.

yep, you may as well piss in the wind. £ signs and red tape come well before sentiments. it is a shame but it is the way of the world. good luck with your campaign but i wont be holding my breath.

cllr.pat karneyAugust 2nd 2007.

Thanks to everyone who turned up to what was a great manc occasion.Ta to Jonathan,Phil,Gordo for the arrangements. So update::1) Eddy--the bridge that needs a clean and paint.It belongs to the Ship Canal Co. so we have e mailed them with the wishes of the meeting. 2) I have asked council staff/city co.staff to arrange the first meeting of the new Castlefield Co alition--probably early September. 3) Liz our great public realm honcho will do me a progress report on the issues raised and how we can move quickly on some of them 4) I was so appalled at the fenced off plot G that I have sent a strong message to the owners.5)Will talk to council colleagues about the other ideas/identity issues that came up.Will do a walkabout in early sept. after my hols.Anyone interested in meeting at Choice?? Loved the bit from John about our little gem PAT

KathAugust 2nd 2007.

Can anybody tell me if there is some sort of central community area anywhere in Castlefield where such meetings (and others) are publicised? I have recently moved here but wasn't aware of the debate taking place in August. I'm interested in finding out about any community groups in Castlefield, particularly in relation to sustainable living eg. energy consumption, recycling, greener transport options, Fairtrade. I am currently working as a volunteer local project manager for Action for Sustainable Living, a non-profit organisation which supports local people to help make their community a greener place to live, and I'd like to get together with other interested Castlefield residents.

ceefaxAugust 2nd 2007.

i was there, for those who werent dont let this chittle chattle fool you. Developers will continue do what they want, the council will fall short and we'll end up with a few new white elephants which will be good for 5 minutes until they allow it to deteriorate again.

PeteAugust 2nd 2007.

Let's hope all the talk leads to some action. I moved out of Castlefield last year due to overbuilding, the complete lack of local amenities and the fact that there isn't really a green space around for miles. Hopefully the incessant building work will now stop, and Castlefield can become more of a community in it's own right, rather than a collection of people who eat, work and play in the city centre and only return to Castlefield to go to bed at night! Might even move back there then!

Rob AdlardAugust 2nd 2007.

Its even more impressive when you consider that Cllr Karney is actually the elected member for Harper Hay, and he lives in the Ancoats electoral boundary. The 3 councillors elected for the city centre are all Lib Dem councillors, its a shame none of them attended the meeting.However, I'm not sure we can say there was no bull**** spoken. I actually agree with cllr Karney with one point, in other great cities it is often individuals who have donated land to the city for public spaces, such as Mr Wrigley in Chicago (who donated a large chunk of prime real estate by South Michigan Ave to the city with the condition it could never be built upon). However, when he says we shouldn't criticise Manchester, vocally or writing things that can be read online as this may put people off coming here or investing here I think he's quite wrong, Its essential that we crisitise things that we think aren't good enough for our city, only this way will we maintiain standards - its also called freedom of speach and relates to something called democracy....he doesn't help his own cause when he stands up in public shouting 'get those buggers to give us their land' thats going to have potential investers flocking to Manchester in their thousands!

Kev PeelAugust 2nd 2007.

I didn't attend the debate last night unfortunately, but I hear there was a lively discussion and some positive outcomes so well done!I lived in Castlefield when I first moved to Manchester and found it a beautiful but under appreciated area. There is so much potential for such a nice area so close to the city centre. As suggested by others above, things like open air theatre and cinema at the ampitheatre like they do on Southbank in London is a great idea and seasonal markets would bring loads of people from the city centre and all around. Pressure needs to be increased on developers to sell land that's not being used and the council need to do something productive with it such putting in community gardens.Also, more should be done to get more festivals into the area and it's a real shame that this year will see the last Dpercussion...

Anthony McCaulAugust 2nd 2007.

I was at the event last night too and thought it was great. Much more positive than I’d imagined it would be. Full marks to the Confidential team and to all the speakers. The energy and the passion of people in the room who want to work to improve and sustain Castlefield was really inspiring. Last night was about the future – not harking back to the past. So - ideas - what is the future of Castlefield? Increasing the number of families visiting the area was mentioned - how about inviting schools from around the city to display artwork along the canal - parents and families could come to the area to view it - increasing family friendly facilities could help this too. What about the idea of an urban beach in Castlefield through the summer - if Urbis can consider it in cathedral gardens why not castlefield - it seems a much more obvious choice. The area could also be used for events like open air cinema, theatre, concerts etc. Book markets or craft fairs could be introduced to give Castlefield a different edge. I think a lot depends on what people want Castlefield to be. I'm sure there are lots of ideas out there and it's great that there will be a Partnership – with residents, council, business and landowners - put in place to take this forward.

Matthew SutcliffeAugust 2nd 2007.

I was at the meeting last night and four clear messages came through loud and clear.1. People care about Castlefield and want something done to stop the rot and make the most of its huge potential and fabulous waterside appeal.2. There's a strong consensus emerging that Castlefield can be the tranquil compliment to the buzz of the city centre. Somewhere for families, couples and indiviuals to enjoy daytime events. This is hugely important in a city centre that lacks green space the way that Manchester does.3. A return to Castlfield's hard drinking past as the city centre's weekend hotspot is simply not on the cards.4. Manchester prides itself on getting things done, and people now expect action from the council and from businesses at Castlefield. From what I heard last night, I believe that action will be forthcoming.Congratulations to Manchester Confidential, Phil Griffin and Jonathan Schofield for stirring up the hornets' nest.

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2007.


Jon Grieves - Choice Bar & RestaurantAugust 2nd 2007.

As a member of the panel last night I was pleased to see the single mindedness of the entire room to improve Castlefield and the discussion really gave a positive direction.It is clear that there are several phases to improve the current state of the area with immediate maintenance, give Castlefield a new identity through fresh events, added amenities, public information & services and then ensure future development stay within a clear vision that protects and enhances out little gem.I intend to keep the ball rolling whilst a Castlefield body is developed and ask questions of those responsible for each individual area that does not come up to expectations.Utmost I am expecting swift action from those persons who can improve the present problems and an undertaking to continue to maintain their responsibilities.Thank you all who attended the debate and those with positive comments on the site. Here is to creating an area of the city that will become indiviual and inspiring.

RichardAugust 2nd 2007.

The boarded up triangle near the Castlefield bridge is a disgrace - how do they get away with it. Every bit of spare land down there has been developed into flats and the city planners should be asking questions about why this was allowed to happen. In my view, Castlefield has already been ruined by rampant flat development and those piss poor buildings will be with us for a hundred years!

AndyAugust 2nd 2007.

Well done to all involved in bringing the debate to the public eye & thanks to all the speakers for their input, here’s hoping to a productive, positive outcome & await the set-up of the ‘Castlefield Partnership’ a much needed coalition.There are several areas I see as to the way forwards which were all mentioned last night:1. Not building any further high density developments down in the canal basin right up to the canal, enabling some pleasant, unobstructed, vistas in the area. Also putting continued pressure on the trouble-spot building/land owners to make them aware of what impact they are having on the area.2. Improving/maintaining/adding to the current signage (especially for that hidden/secret passage to the canal basin under Deansgate Quay apartments) & creation of new heritage trails to encourage more visitors down, increased tie ins with the museum of science & industry could work3. Try and find spaces for appropriate ‘one off’ independent traders, markets might be a solution if viable4. Most important/easiest to achieve generally maintaining what is currently there, getting maintenance issues resolved promptly such as safe footpaths & general satisfactory painted areas, including that bridge, also improving perceived security with increased lighting etc.Meanwhile anyone up for a bit of ‘direct action’ regarding the fenced off disaster that is Plot ‘G’ next to Jacksons Wharf……..

AnonymousAugust 2nd 2007.

I have a small business in Castlefield and I am delighted to find this column. We moved into Castlefield around five years ago, before that my only experience of the area was when I brought my son down here some years earlier to take photos of the derelict canalside for his GCSE Art project. When I came back again rather reluctantly, I was excited by the development plans and enthusiastic atmosphere of the place. There was a real local community (so unusual within a city centre) Great things seemed to be afoot in this historically fascinating part of town. Since then, however, everything seems to have been 'put on the back boiler'. The area used to have it's own band of council staff known as The Castlefield Rangers whose knowledge of the area, including the complex waterways system, was unparalleled. They were responsible for the maintenance, cleaning etc of the area. Following some sort of council reorganisation these highly skilled operatives can often be found litter picking all over the city! Surely this valuable heritage site deserves it's own dedicated team. The standards of the area have definitely declined since we lost them. I agree with many of the comments made here by others and I look forward to further improvements.

DaveAugust 2nd 2007.

A very passionate debate last night. I was most pleased to hear that solutions are to be put in place to rectify the decline in Castlefield we have seen over the last few years. I agree with the consensus that the area has had enough development - certainly enough residential zones. Also I agree Castlefield should steer-away from being simply a 'drinking destination' and be an area of more diverse activity (fairs, markets etc.). It should, however, have stronger links with the city centre.The 'Tory Boy' was a highlight though, and as a former politics student, I can say that he was totally correct that a Conservative government started the redevelopment of Castlefield though the Development Corporations. Like it or not, without the Conservatives much of the redevelopment in Manchester and Salford would not have started in the first place.

Chris PaulAugust 2nd 2007.

Sorry I missed this event. Didn't get email until after it had started. I look forward to seeing the Councillors for the area, the Tory wannabe or indeed more than one or two residents next time there is a clean up down there. I have been to four in the last two or three years and I have NEVER seen a Lib Dem (and they're the councillors) or a Tory on one. I'm told they don't go because there's no chance of grandstanding as residents don't go either. So good to hear talk of action not just debate. Let's walk the talk. I go to these if I can though I've not been a candidate recently ... because the area is special and does need the odd spring clean beyond what the small staff can do. This is where the plastic skiffs and chip wrappers from Canal Street end up so it is not just immediate local residents or the council that need to start caring more.

markAugust 2nd 2007.

well done to cllr Pat K. I was pleasantly surprised to hear a local cllr who didn't seem to talk bull**** and wants to get something done.

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