Plans to transform the Hough End site including improvements to the Leisure Centre and Playing Fields facilities have been approved by the Planning and Highways Committee today.
The current development plans for the Leisure Centre and the 35-hectare site were revised and amended following the withdrawal of the original proposal last year. They have been subject to extensive consultation with residents and other interested stakeholders to ensure the best way to develop investment opportunities at the site at the same time as balancing environmental concerns with the benefits offered by improved facilities.
The approved plans include a two-storey extension to the existing Hough End Centre which will accommodate changing facilities, include a community room, education space, cafe facilities and a health and fitness space to service sport and leisure users on site.
Externally the creation of two 3G artificial football turf pitches with improvements to grass playing fields, and new car parking that will include new cycle parking and electric parking provision to enhance sustainable travel to the site. Alongside this, plans are in place for highways improvements to neighbouring roads.
The plans approved today, took into consideration the concerns from residents which related to environmental impact, loss of public open green space and highways issues, to include further junction improvements, more sustainable car parking, increased measures to improve local biodiversity, reduction in 3G pitch development, inclusion of organic 3G infill pitch solution, and active travel improvements.
The project will be funded via a mixed capital investment strategy in partnership with The Football Foundation to deliver Manchester’s first Community Football Hub facility. The site will be the first Cork Infill 3G Facility brought forward in partnership with The Football Foundation nationally and will become a test bed for future investment into 3G facilities. As a natural product, granulated cork is a renewable raw material derived from the bark of cork oak from sustainably managed sources
The plans include enhanced sustainability measures positioning low carbon and nature-based solutions at the forefront of the design approach. Implementation of sustainable carbon technologies will also enable the council to set the planned leisure centre extension building on a clear path to decarbonisation to fit in with the council's wider drive to cut carbon emissions.
Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for Neighbourhoods said:
"Through this process we have listened to what people have to say to ensure that we protected open green space at the same time as allowing development of the fields to enhance community use in the long term. There has been a strong interest in our plans, which we welcomed, and we took on board all those views as we brought forward the right plan to future proof Hough End in the long-term. We believe we have the right balance taking into consideration residents' views while investing in the much- needed and improved facilities.
“Our improvements will benefit the communities that currently use Hough End and allow more people to access leisure facilities, participate in sport as well as creating sustainable, high-quality playing fields and open spaces offering sport and leisure activities to promote people’s health and wellbeing.
“Sustainability is at the heart of the project, and we have designed all the improvements to fit in with the council's drive to cut carbon emissions. We are placing nature-based solutions at the forefront of the design approach. The 3G pitches will be the first natural infill solution that will be brought forward by the Football Association via the Football Foundations Framework nationally. And we have reduced the footprint of the overall development to limit the impact on the wider green space."
The improvements at Hough End will increase participation in all leisure activities particularly football increasing affiliated football teams, as well benefiting schools, universities and clubs using the site.