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West Dids: selfish locals or clever?

Catherine May visits the foodies' suburb about parking permits on Burton Road

Published on December 15th 2010.

West Dids: selfish locals or clever?

Plans are currently being reviewed to introduce parking permits along Burton Road and surrounding cul-de-sacs in West Didsbury. They would mean that residents get spaces outside their houses, but it leaves nowhere for customers and staff of the varying local businesses to park. Given this is one of South Manchester’s prime dining areas wouldn’t that be ridiculous?

No doubt many of the residents will argue that they were here first, before the burgeoning businesses that now line the streets of West Didsbury. That’s the price of being popular, and shows that the area‘s economy is growing.

So who’s for and who’s against?

Local residents have spoken of their annoyance at the current parking situation with Kevin Gray speaking on residents’ behalf at a meeting last month. He said that he wanted to find a solution for both residents and local businesses and believed the answer could lie with Withington Community Hospital’s car park.

The car park currently does allow public parking for a £2 charge but residents didn’t think this was not publicised enough and NHS Manchester discourages anyone from parking there unless they are visiting patients. Margaret Gardner, acting manager at the hospital said that this charge was necessary for the maintenance of the car park.

The city council has already sent out a survey on the issue to local residents. Of the 1,600 addresses the survey went to, 290 responded. Does that show apathy or does a fifth represent a meaningful proportion?

Speaking to local business owners, it became apparent that there is a shared annoyance at the proposed plans.

At Piccolino, manager Paul said the plans were “absolutely bonkers”. Not only would the permits affect his customers, but they’d equally have a negative impact on staff. He believes that local businesses contribute to the local community and should be treated as part of it.

Staff at the nearby M20 bar echoed these sentiments. Although they don’t believe their late night clientele will necessarily be as affected by the plans, they still want to know what the council would be doing about providing an alternative solution for local businesses.

The plans for the expansion of the Metrolink tram network would make the area more accessible from the city centre and Chorlton, but not all customers come from these areas and it won’t placate a huge number of those who drive to West Didsbury.

Piccolino’s customers aren’t likely to have travelled from the city centre, however, so staff there didn’t think permits would leave any alternative transport solutions for their customers.

Penny from love2eat on Burton Road said the plans were a “complete farce”. The number of cars per household, especially in flats, outweighs the spaces available already so she struggled to see how the council would be able to fairly distribute the permits.

The only voice of support for the permits came from Sarah at Silver Apples. As a local resident as well, her views were more varied than others. She said that local residents can’t currently park outside their own houses and something has to be done to change this.

“I’m ultimately for it,” she said. Another staff member offered a conflicting opinion though, simply saying it was “a nightmare”.

No doubt many of the residents will argue that they were here first, before the burgeoning businesses that now line the streets of West Didsbury. That’s the price of being popular, and shows that the area‘s economy is growing.

Those that do decide to sell up and move will no doubt be very happy with the inflated value of their homes. But every resident deserves the right to park outside their house.

So whilst residents see the need for change, local businesses seem to be almost unanimous in their stance against the plans. Parking is not only necessary for their customers, but for the staff as well. Independent businesses already have enough challenges facing them in the economic climate without this additional worry.


The acronym NIMBY leaps to mind here. The attraction of West Didsbury is that Burton Road is such a fine place for dining and relaxing. Residents should stop whinging and count their lucky stars they live in a place with such fabulous amenity. They should have street-parties every year to celebrate the fact. Or maybe they can move to Gorton where they won’t be troubled by a popular and prosperous centre. Also Burton Road, in its bones, is a drab, narrow thoroughfare, it needs the life the restaurants and eateries bring.

The place is all about the restaurants. On the strip and the side roads people should be allowed to park without need for permits. Of course a deal should be capable of being brokered with Withington Community Hospital for free evening car parking. And if they don’t allow that what about a bit of placards and protests to make the hospital trust see sense? Protest is so on trend this year. People power – very Big Society.

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

Paul ClarkeDecember 14th 2010.

Boo hoo, my heart bleeds for these oppressed middle class diners...I suppose getting a bus is far too down market for the poor lambs.

jasonDecember 14th 2010.

The problem isn't confined to just West Didsbury, but didsbury as a whole. I live in one of the small streets near Didsbury Park / village & in the evenings it can be a case of all the available spaces near our house being full by 7pm. On Saturday mornings, taking my son to his weekly football match can result in not being able to park near home on our return due to the shoppers/park visitors. We are a 1-car family, but the area, with its streets of terreaced houses was not designed for 2+ car families & then the large conversions to 6+ flats (each with its own car), as well as the traffic brought about by visitors.

AnonymousDecember 14th 2010.

Ignoring the ignorant comment above. I think a big issue is the number of buses which DO fly down Burton Road without a care for people or other traffic, I regularly avoid the road now as there is nowhere to park when visiting friends or the local businesses. The hospital car park is an obvious choice for customer parking but at £2 to nip to Belly Button or the like...I'm afraid I wouldn't be, get the placards ready...!

LindyDecember 14th 2010.

The problem is the inconsiderate patrons of the businesses. They park where ever they want. Oh dear did I block your driveway- that's a shame but I was only nipping in to get my nails done, have a spot of lunch and then a little shopping. Did inconvenience you?? Also employees of these businesses who park illegally but at least with them you can talk to them and they don't do it again. I'd like to see how you'd handle it if it happened to you on a weekly basis. I lived in W. Dids for 15 yrs and moved out last summer in part because of the issues we had with parking. Good riddance W. Didsbury I don't miss you at all.

Paul ClarkeDecember 14th 2010.

I'm with Ex-Res as this scheme is aimed at making sure local council tax payers can get a parking spot somewhere near their home which is clearly their right.

My point was that if you are going out for a meal then you can always get a bus or take a cab. Especially if like me you enjoy a drink with your meal.

If the buses are going too fast that needs to be dealt with but it is worth considering there are plenty of buses which do allow middle class diners on for a small fee.

Caroline FaulknerDecember 14th 2010.

I think it's a good idea. Give one permit to every household and if you have more than one car you too have to pay £2 to park in the hospital.

Wes BerryDecember 14th 2010.

The hospital car park is simply HUGE, and almost always 2/3 empty, because visiting patients will not pay £2.00 and prefer to park on the surrounding roads instead (NB it is a walk in hopsital only with no overnight beds so no need to 'visit' patients as the NHS suggest).

However, no-one is likely to park at the hospital if they were visiting any of the establishments on Lapwing Lane as it must be at least a quarter of a mile walk.

restaurant ownerDecember 14th 2010.

Sedgy - Can I just say that the businesses are local tax payers too. I have a small restuarnt and my rates are nearly £500 a month which does not include waste. I employ 13 staff and many of these cannot get home from work on the bus as they finish after 12pm at night.
I understand that resident and businesses both need to park and a solution which assists all sides is needed.
So many new houses were built on the Withington hospital site, and I cannot believe the council did not see fit to put a public car park in.

AnonymousDecember 14th 2010.

EDITORIAL COMMENT: I've removed a greasy little jealous rant from a fool. Let's debate whether there should be parking permits or not. Mock either side by all means but with wit folks please. JS

Eddy RheadDecember 14th 2010.

'Parking problems' are always, apparently, caused by someone else. People rarely acknowledge that they themselves are part of the problem. Unless you have lived there for over 40 years i dont really think you have much to complain about. You knew what you were letting yourself in for when you bought the house. If you own a car (or two) and you cant park outside your house - tough. Get rid of your car or move.

Eddy And Another ThingDecember 14th 2010.

......and another thing. People do not have the 'right' to park outside their own house. Owning a car is a choice not a right. You have as much right to park outside my house as i do. Which is none. If you see what i mean?

GMSDecember 14th 2010.

It sounds as though the Withington Hospital car park could provide the perfect solution.

How about extend Burton Road by putting more ground floor retail units along the Burton Road edge of the car park?

Revenue generated from service charges that the businesses might pay could then be pooled to maintain the rest of the car park with any excess funds being pooled and split between further improvements to the pedestrianised areas along Burton Road and as a form of additional long-term income for the hospital?

This could also increase the aesthetic feel of Burton Road at this junction with Nell Lane as a bonus.

mDecember 14th 2010.

Parking permits should never be brought in. If they were, everyone would flock to the Co-Op car park. When that gets clamped down on the local businesses will be in trouble.

Withington hospital should section off a small number of parking spaces (20?) closest to Nell Lane/Burton Road. Create a seaparate entrance with no barrier (Council taxes could pay for this minor bit of landscaping. There's a lot of new tax paying houses round here).

Offer free parking for a few hours on evenings and weekends (short enough to prevent hospital staff parking in it). Pay and display on weekdays where the hospital has most visitors and residential parking is not an issue. Problem Solved. It would even entice more investment in the southern end of Burton Road.

AnonymousDecember 14th 2010.

Parking permits from the council show just how little the council really cares about green issues depite all its propaganda. These permits greatly increase the convenience of car use for residents, so making it much less likley that they would give up on car ownership and use public transport.

If residents are to be given guaranteed parking on public roads near their homes it should be done at comercial parking rates. I suggest £1 per hour, or about £9,000 per year.

And why should people without offroad parking be given space on the public roads? If they want guaranteed parking they should move and buy a house with a drive.

MDecember 14th 2010.

"Or maybe they can move to Gorton where they won´t be troubled by a popular and prosperous centre."? Maybe not, but there was no need to 'pick' on another part of Manchester by name. How about the following Manchester eyesores; Longsight, Rusholme and Bradford...oops...sorry...Eastlands. Or is that Wastelands?

Dids' is overated, and the houses are overpriced. If you want to dine out, especially if you want a drink with your meal, then commute or get a taxi. Hey!...perhaps if more people used public transport, there'd be less cars on the roads and the residents in question wouldn't be trying to get permits to park in front of their homes.

Just a thought.

Kevin HandDecember 15th 2010.

Residents make themselves look foolish over such schemes. Locked in their purblind bubble they can't see the big picture. It's typical. Just don't allow the scheme really.

M30December 15th 2010.

Everytime that it seems Manchester comes across as the Barcelona of England, a story like this surfaces which shows the myopic view of some of the city's residents.
The reason that Manchester doesn't have a transport network like either London or Glasgow is because there's a mindset which exists in this city "I have the right to have my car outside my front door and park right outside my office, even if it's on the middle of King Street, and I have the right to park outside a restaurant etc"
Whilst I have no evidence, I imagine that public transport usage in Manchester is the lowest in all of the UK's core cities, no wonder the government won't give us any funding or autonomy when public transport is considered a degredation as opposed to a part of everyday life.
I'd sooner have yellow lines painted on every main road in Manchester than pander to the NIMBY mentality. Send them all to Wilmslow.

MDecember 15th 2010.

To be fair, at the initial residents meeting regarding this the vast majority were against parking permits. I can't see it happening.

Getting public transport to West Didsbury is currently not that easy. It sits at the end of a bus route which offers good links to the city centre but as any bus user knows, orbital routes are crap. Especially at night (1 bus per hour).

The metrolink extension should help relieve this problem. It's as much about connecting Chorlton, West Didsbury and Didsbury village as it it providing links to the city centre.

Until the metrolink extension is complete and it's impact assessed, it's not worth investing in any such drastic measures.

CDecember 15th 2010.

Parking difficulties are just a price of living in West Didsbury - I used to live there, and had to put up not parking outside my house (especially on a Sunday lunchtime - grr...). But, I got to live in West Didsbury. If you don't want the whole deal, don't live there.

Frankly, it's just about the best place in the whole of Manchester - but that's because of the businesses that are there.

AnonymousDecember 15th 2010.

I already somewhat avoid W Didsbury because I think 'oh god, no where to park'. Now I'll just avoid it all together. I'm sure they won't miss me and to be honest, reading all these posts just shows me how small minded people can be. Oh boo hoo you can park right nexted to your overpriced house in one of the most coveted neighborhoods in Manchester. SO LEAVE.

AnonymousDecember 15th 2010.

I am so sick of people in Didsbury and even Chorlton moaning about parking in their douche-bag neighborhoods. STFU.

AnonymousDecember 15th 2010.

As one of those residents who (lives in a squalid flat in a very unmodernised old victorian building - we're talking ice on the inside of our windows at the moment - so not the lap of luxury) who didn't respond, I can confirm that the low resident response rate is due to the fact that most of us live on short term leases in rented flats and simply won't be around long enough to join in the debate.

Chris PaulDecember 15th 2010.

has your sign up process just lost my rant? if so you're clowns ..

Chris PaulDecember 15th 2010.

1. use public transport

2. create revenue stream for hospital by using their car parks which are in comfortable walking distance of all the action

3. yes, residents should have parking adjacent to their homes

4. yes, businesses should cultivate and maintain good relations with neighbours

5. thanks to Lucy Powell and Didsbury and Manchester Labour for getting on to this, and congratulations to Lucy on her new role at the heart of the people's party working for Ed Miliband

Jane BaxterDecember 15th 2010.

The hospital should be forced to open the car park in the evenings for free parking to anybody who wishes to visit the area. After all it is a "Community Hospital". The argument that they have to charge £2 to cover costs is ridiculous when they certainly don't get many £2 in the evenings at the moment as the car park is mostly empty.
I am in total agreement that residents on the surrounding roads should have parking permits - people should be able to park outside their homes.

AnonymousDecember 15th 2010.

Blimey Wes Berry a quarter of a mile, that's one hell of a walk.

West Dids ResDecember 15th 2010.

'Political profiteering' just about sums it up. The residents didn't back this, the businesses don't want this, so who wins??
Oh yes the Council with its Parking Permit Officers handing out hefty fines!

Stuart BamberDecember 15th 2010.

I've a spare (private) parking space on Central Rd which I don't use.

Any bidders?

mcfcianbDecember 15th 2010.

There is a large car park at the back of that big expensive pub. yes thats all it is a pub. they should put a pay and display on there. Not too expensive but enought o keep the amount of traffic flowing in and out of the car park.

Paul ClarkeDecember 16th 2010.

Is the hospital car park 24 hour charging or could it be free after say 6pm like many public car parks?

That would mean diners and workers alike could park and make that epic quarter mile hike to get their posh nosh.

Eddy, people paying huge council tax bills do have a right to park their cars outside their own front door. They shouldn't have to put up with people parking in their spaces just because they can't be bothered to get the bus.

A resident parking scheme is not some Stalinist diktat but a sensible way for people to park their cars.

Paul ClarkeDecember 16th 2010.

And I quite agree with MCFC that the 'pub' he mentions is utterly average and only appeals to students.

AnonymousDecember 16th 2010.

I live in West Didsbury and like everyone else appreciate its businesses and night life - it is a great place to live and we would not want to compromise that. However, some of the issues with parking need to be taken seriously - at the meeting there were examples of emergency services being unable to reach houses, rubbish collection failing to occur, care workers being unable to park to visit their patients etc. The plans proposed also did not really solve the problem - there was concern that it would just shift the parking problem further away from Burton Road to areas which are already suffering from limited parking (e.g further along Cavendish Road). These problems look set to escalate here if the GMPTE folk do not think more seriously about how to deal with parking for the tram users (currently no provision) which most likely will be a huge problem for residents based on reports from elsewhere in GM. It is a shame the hospital will not allow their car park to be used for free after hours, and disappointing that so much land is undeveloped at Didsbury Point that could also alleviate some of the burden (instead an expensive fine system has just been introduced if people park outside of their spot - leading to even more cars parked outside the development and problems for other residents). Residents will need a solution in the long term but the idea proposed at the meeting did not solve the problem, and planners have to think more carefully before approving building in the area in future. I have not received a survey since I live 'too far' from the key area (about 250m away!). I would be keen in principle for some scheme but not the one currently proposed.

Julian AssangeDecember 16th 2010.

Stop censoring peoples comments! Let us read it and make our own judgement on it. We might not (definately don't) all share your views on what's funny and what's an appropriate comment on an essentially pointless article about parking.

Here's my own pointless 2p on parking. Residents don't maintain the roads, they've as much right to park outside their house as I have. If you have to walk a little further to your house my heart bleeds for you.
And if you're willing to pay over the odds for shopping and eating in Didsbury, as you likely will be, then an extra £2 for your parking is going to mean little.
I don't care about residents parking or Didsburys business clients parking, I don't even know why I'm commenting on this.
p.s. I don't like the photo either

Stuart BamberDecember 16th 2010.

Sedgey, The Met isn't a student pub, due to it being so ridiculously overpriced.

The carpark belongs to The Met and is staffed (at weekends anyway) so only patrons can use it.

It's a big car park, and it needs to be so mummy and daddy can park their gargantuan shiny beast so little Jack and Hermione can come too.

It's like a creche in there at weekends it really is.

Paul ClarkeDecember 16th 2010.

Stewie, my apologies..you are, of course, correct on the prices.

And equally on the Chelsea tractor issue.

Thet are the same halfwits who wander round Unicorn getting 10 kilos of organic mung beans and then dump said shopping in their Land Rovers. Talk about missing the point.

AnonymousDecember 16th 2010.

I live on Burton Road and love it, I know just how lucky I am to live in such a vibrant area with so many great bars and places to eat. Yes parking can be a bit of a pain but I won't be backing any permit scheme until the real issue is addressed - the bloody buses! Congestion, on the whole, is caused by double deckers, sometime two or three in convoy, each with only a handful of people on board. They block the road, the drivers are aggressive and they stink.

SnoutDecember 17th 2010.

All these people saying they have a right to park outside their own homes are wrong. I pay road tax, therefore I could come and park my car outside your home and there is nothing you could do about it.

The buses don't cause the problems on Burton Road, it's the clowns parking haphazardly that make the buses have to slalom down the road. Put double yellow lines the length of Burton Road and open up the parking on Withington Hospital.

On Ya BikeDecember 17th 2010.

Why can nobody survive without a car these days? If you're going to be eating a big meal out then a brisk walk home/to a taxi rank/bus stop will do wonders for your digestion and believe it or not your health, although it sounds like some people might need some help walking to the car park a 1/4 of a mile down the road!

Furthermore, we're assuming that people who are pro-driving and parking in West Didsbury aren't going to be drinking booze because then they really shouldn't be in the car in the first place.

I agree that the buses could be a lot better, they are dirty/smelly and some of the drivers can be rude, but at least there are buses running along Palatine Road till late, which is more than can be said for the last bus at 11.30pm that I would have to get to get home on a budget...

...and no, we can't all afford cars. Those of us who can't have learnt to survive by walking, cycling, taking the bus...

Jonny Do DaDecember 20th 2010.

Re: Editorial comment, "They should have street-parties every year to celebrate the fact."

We do. See WestFest. This year held over Christmas as well as September.


More research needed pls thnx.

EditorialDecember 20th 2010.

SQLK ah yes WestFest, but we really hope you don't subtitle it, 'How lucky we are to live in West Diddles.'

AnonymousDecember 20th 2010.

Wow amazing how bitter some people are that some choose and have worked hard enough or are fortunate to live in a nice area / big house / have good cars/cars at all. Shame all of this has to come up when the actual debate is about parking and how to keep residents and businesses/customers happy, half of you have probably never even been there!

Simon ManningDecember 20th 2010.

Just for the record, a poll at the last public meeting showed that the overwhelming majority of residents and businesses were against these plans in their current form.

Parking is an issue, but not one that people seem to want addressing by the current proposal. Lets wait and see what the council dream up when they come back with revised plans.

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