The Name’s the Same
Got a bit behind with my updates from the local government frontline so this will be the first of a series of catch-ups, this one dealing with an unexpected, at least by me, bit of controversy around the draft Portland Street Strategic regeneration framework (SRF).
The principal planning document in Manchester is the Core Strategy. This has been through lengthy consultation and a public inquiry and provides the legal framework for planning decisions in the city. However, even though it is a fairly lengthy and detailed document, it was finalised in 2012, and there are parts of the city, particularly in the city centre, which benefit from something even more detailed and more up-to-date. This is where SRFs come in. They don’t have the same legal status as the Core Strategy and only give guidance but do allow for further public consultation in a particular area before specific planning applications are even submitted.
The Portland Street SRF only covers four blocks running back two by two from Portland Street to Bloom Street.However, an administrative error by the Council that originally released an incorrect version of the draft SRF ( calling it Portland Street Village ), coupled with some deliberate misinterpretation, falsely suggesting the Council intended to rename the Gay Village, led to a bit of a storm. My colleague Councillor Carl Austin-Behan organised a public meeting last week which allowed me to talk to loads of interested people and put the record straight starting with stating categorically that the Council has never even thought about renaming the Gay Village.
The meeting though did raise a large number of anxieties about the Gay Village and for its future as an area characterised by it being a home for LGBT communities. I gave three clear commitments to the meeting.
The first concerned the Portland Street SRF itself where I promised to widen the consultation and extend the consultation period ( which will now be up to when the pre-election “ purdah “ period begins towards the end of March ).
The second concerned Pride where I promised that the Council would work to ensure a long-term future for Pride including the identification of a suitable event space.
The third, repeating something I had said publicly at the Council’s Executive Committee, was that the Council would work with businesses, residents, and users of the Gay Village to develop the vision and strategy to ensure it had an undiminished and sustainable future.