What does the Stretford Public Realm scheme tells us about Trafford Council’s intentions for UA92?

News of the UA92 scheme and refreshed masterplan came out of the blue, when they were announced in September. And they’ve received a fair amount of media attention, no doubt helped by the involvement of Gary Neville and Class of 92.

The key parts of the scheme are:

  • A new university campus on the old Kellogg’s site on Talbot Road
  • A new leisure centre to replace Stretford Leisure Centre and be shared with UA92
  • A student village on the Lacy Street site, currently used as a car park and Royal Mail sorting office
  • Training pitches for Salford City FC on Turn Moss

The refreshed masterplan talks of much more in terms of a revamped Stretford town centre, but this is very much aspirational and there is very little detail and no commitment that any of it will be delivered.

Trafford Council are asking the people of Stretford to trust them, but can we trust them? Well, let’s take a look at the recent public realm scheme as an example.

Stretford Public Realm Scheme

The vision

M5255-Stretford-Consultation-Leaflet-July-2016
Stretford Public Realm – The vision

The public realm scheme presented this vision for Stretford that Trafford had no intention of delivering. The consultation itself had heavily weighted questions to give a positive result, just like the UA92 questionnaire.

The reality

20171123_081913
Stretford Public Realm – The reality

The scheme was presented as delivering improvements to the town centre by removing the subways and replacing them with surface crossings. Was this really for the benefit of Stretford or was it more about providing additional motor traffic lanes and freeing up land for development?

Walking

Certainly, some people didn’t feel comfortable using the subways, but Trafford could have added surface crossings without taking the subways. Why didn’t they do this?

Now, everyone is forced to use the surface crossings that take much longer to get across. It now takes 4 or 5 minutes to cross diagonally, when it used to take about a minute using the subways.

Using the surface crossings, you also have the danger of mixing with motor traffic, while breathing in the fumes.

Cycling

Although there was no real cycling infrastructure before, the changes supposed to improve things have actually made things worse for people on bikes. It’s now common to see people getting off their bikes and walking rather than risk using the junction, particularly when doing right turns when you need to get across multiple lanes.

After being forced off the road at the junction, the new section of cycleway next to Lacy Street then dumps you back on the road, just next to a side road turning and in the path of buses pulling into the bus stop.
Right turn lane onto Edge Lane

Additional right turn lane

The additional right turn lane, added by making use of freed up space from the subways, doesn’t actually appear to be getting used much. The same old problems of vehicles trying to cut in from the third lane are still there.

A real vision for Stretford

While many people support the creation of the new university, they are suspicious of Trafford Council. Is this scheme really about improving Stretford or could it be about selling off publicly owned land to cover budget shortfalls and back-door privatisation of leisure services?

Nothing in the refreshed masterplan seeks to tackle the problems caused by the A56. The congestion, noise and pollution caused by 6 lanes of traffic and the severance on the town. Could this be because none of the council executive live in Stretford? Maybe they’re more interested in keep traffic flowing through the town to keep their constituents in the south of the borough happy?

Like many people in Stretford, I support the creation of the university in principle, but I cannot support these proposals. Stretford needs a bold vision for the future that commits to address the problems in the town centre.

This isn’t it.

More about UA92

More about Stretford Public Realm

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