Developing the MMU site
The ARAG proposal for the development of an Alsager University Technical College (UTC) on the MMU site, is one way to achieve the wide-ranging, mixed use, lifelong health and well-being, community facilities Alsager has outlined in its Town Plan and Cheshire East has adopted in its Local Plan. It would also create for our young people the opportunities that will be necessary as a result of the raising of the school leaving age. This proposal would also strictly restrict new housing to 300 on the Brownfield footprint of the site.
The Town Council however has decided that it is not appropriate for it to support this proposal and Cheshire East appears to be focussed on providing a UTC in Crewe and not maximising the potential of the MMU site for Alsager. ARAG has received a good number of letters and emails from residents continuing to support our proposal and we do not accept that the Town Council’s feeble bureaucratic response should determine our approach to the significant development of the MMU site. What happens to this site is important for the whole community and the reputation of the Town as a good place to live, work and as providing great opportunities for both young people and the elderly
We believe that the outcome on the MMU site is closely related to Alsager’s identity and sense of community. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring a substantial set of high quality community facilities to Alsager.
We ask the question ‘who from our elected representatives is providing the vision, leadership and drive to make sure that Alsager gets what it wants and not the ‘maximised return on its Alsager assets’ the MMU wants?’. This quote is taken from a letter received from the MMU responding to our request for a meeting to consider alternatives. It said ‘MMU has spent a lot of money on its move to Crewe and it now wants to maximise the return on the sale of its Alsager assets’.
We note that MMU makes no reference to the ethical issues regarding the very substantial public money that it has received to create, maintain and transfer specialist facilities to Crewe.
ARAG believes that:
- all of the Sports Fields should be retained
- those buildings which provide the greatest opportunity for community use, erected at great public expense, should be retained
- no more than 300 houses should be built
- any housing should be strictly within the Brownfield footprint of the site.
We believe that the MMU site should provide:
- a Sports Hub,
- comprehensive recreational facilities,
- a residential village for the elderly
- and lifelong educational and health provision.
To be clear, we are looking at something that will last for many years so the detail of facilities and the demand for them will evolve and change. Demolishing a building or destroying a playing field for housing means that facility is lost for all purposes for ever. We would not be satisfied with a plan which just retains some of the pitches based on current demand or one which loses fields and smartens up the Leisure Centre. An expanding population will require greater leisure and recreation provision and we would like to see a much wider vision for the site.
One point which is worth stressing is that the MMU site was gifted to Manchester in the 1990s. The site had been constructed with taxpayers’ money and the subsequent high quality sports fields and facilities were also constructed and maintained with public money. MMU now wants to maximise its return on this publicly funded site. We believe that there is a strong moral case to retain facilities and that the Alsager community should benefit in the ways described.
This is our view, which has been supported by a number of ARAG members but we need to know that it is a view shared by a majority in Alsager. To that end, we intend to initiate a campaign to make the situation clear to all residents, request feedback and ask them to join the campaign and be active. We believe that if we don’t act now, we will lose this opportunity for ever.
This will involve some expense and we would therefore ask you to respond to the following questions through the website:
- Do you agree with ARAG’s vision for the future of the MMU site?
Please let us know if you have any additional thoughts or ideas.
- Do you agree that a campaign to involve all Alsager residents is a good idea?
Please feedback any additional thoughts or ideas you might have.
- Would you be willing to make a small contribution to campaign costs?
If so, please indicate that you would support ARAG.