You have probably heard about the threat to Ryebank Fields, the local green space which adjoins Longford Park.
Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) has put the fields up for sale on the open market. They are allegedly refusing to engage with local groups such as Friends of Ryebank Fields and are only dealing with developers.
MMU, which was given the formerly public land for free, plans to build over 100 homes on the site. However, Stretford Liberal Democrats firmly support the campaign by the Friends of Ryebank Fields (FORF) who instead propose to make the Fields into a nature reserve.
The Fields existed as a clay pit and then landfill site until the 1970s, when the site was reclaimed and gifted to MMU (then Manchester Polytechnic) for use as a sports ground.
This summer, MMU undertook site surveys at Ryebank Fields. These surveys went ahead despite restrictions due to the nearby ancient Anglo-Saxon earthwork known as the Nico Ditch. After the surveys, asbestos waste was found on the Fields by local residents.
MMU subsequently closed off the Fields with metal barriers. The University then cleaned up the asbestos at ground level – but are controversially claiming that it was caused by local residents using the Fields, rather than their surveys.
MMU has also put out a leaflet to hundreds of homes on the Chorlton side of Ryebank Fields defending their decision to fence off the area. They now plan to leave the Fields closed to the public until the building work is complete.
We agree with FORF that the best future use for the site is as a managed nature reserve, in which the Fields, the Nico Ditch and the many mature trees and rare native plants and wildlife can be enjoyed by the public – and studied by MMU students – in perpetuity.
Wild natural spaces help to combat climate change and loss of biodiversity. They are one of the few good uses for former landfill sites, as building on them is difficult and likely to release toxic substances and gases – such as the asbestos recently seen at Ryebank Fields.
Please join us in backing the Friends of Ryebank Fields’ campaign to Save Ryebank Fields.
Dr Anna Fryer
Stretford and Urmston Liberal Democrat Spokesperson