FC United’s Proposed Stadium on Ronald Johnson Fields.

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I refer to your representations to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to exercise his powers under Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, to direct that the above-named planning application should be referred to him for decision rather than being dealt with by Manchester City Council. 

As you may know, the Secretary of State’s general approach is not to interfere with the jurisdiction of local planning authorities unless it is necessary to do so. Parliament has entrusted local planning authorities with responsibility for day-to-day planning control in their areas. These authorities are normally best placed to make decisions relating to their areas and it is right that, in general, they should be free to carry out their duties responsibly, with the minimum of interference.

There will be occasions, however, when the Secretary of State may consider it necessary to call in a planning application for his own determination, rather than leaving it to the local planning authority. His policy is to be very selective about calling in planning applications. He will, in general, only take this step if planning issues of more than local importance are involved and if these issues need to be decided by the Secretary of State, rather than at a local level. Each case is considered on its own merits.

The Secretary of State has considered all the matters put to him about this application, including the representations made directly to him by objectors. Bearing in mind that the issue before him for decision is not whether the application should be granted planning permission, but whether or not he should call it in for his own determination, the Secretary of State considers that the main matters relevant to his decision are his policies as set out in: PPS9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation; Planning Policy Guidance Note 13: Transport; Planning Policy Guidance Note 17: Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation; and Planning Policy Note 24: Planning and Noise

Having considered these and other relevant planning issues and having regard to his policy on call-in, the Secretary of State has concluded that there is not sufficient conflict with national planning policies on the above matters, or any other sufficient reason, to warrant the calling in of the application for his own determination.  The Secretary of State is satisfied that the issues raised do not relate to matters of more than local importance.  He has, therefore, decided that Manchester City Council should decide the application as it sees fit.

I must point out that it is not the responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government to police local authorities. The Secretary of State has no duty or power to supervise the general propriety or efficiency of actions taken by individual local authorities or call them to account on matters connected with organisation, management or conduct of business. Local authorities are provided with considerable statutory discretion to arrange for the discharge of their duties in accordance with their own interpretation of local needs and circumstances. They are accountable for their actions and services they provide to their electorate, and ultimately the law courts.   

Each local authority has a Monitoring Officer who is concerned with matters of legality and propriety. It is his or her duty to report to the full council any cases where he or she thinks that the council, one of its committees, sub-committees or officers is about to or has done something unlawful, or which constitutes maladministration. The Local Authority Ombudsman may also investigate such matters. 

In considering whether to exercise his discretion to call in this application, the Secretary of State has not considered the matter of whether the application is EIA Development for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011. The local planning authority responsible for determining the application remains the relevant authority responsible for considering whether these Regulations apply to the proposed development and, if so, for ensuring that the requirements of the Regulations are complied with.

I know you will be disappointed by this decision. The decision not to call-in this application does not represent tacit approval of the proposal and nor should it be construed as an expression of opinion on the merits of the application. 
Yours sincerely

John Blakeway

Planning Casework Officer

Department for Communities and Local Government

National Planning Casework Unit

5 St Philips Place

Colmore Row

Birmingham B3 2PW

Tel 0303 444 8050

Email NPCU@communities.gsi.gov.uk


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Dear Councillors

I thought that you would like to see how many properties in Moston have submitted letters of objection to the proposal to build a football stadium on Ronald Johnson Playing Fields, the attached map will give you some idea of the strength of feeling against this proposal. Some residents were unfortunately of the opinion that once the Council had set its mind to do something then there was little that they as residents could do about it, they have not supported our campaign, other than verbally, for this reason. Unfortunately it would seem that they were correct in their assumptions.

Today is likely to be a rubber stamping exercise, legitimate objections raised by local residents have been swept under the carpet and the very people that the local residents should have been able to count upon to help them in their resistance to this proposal have failed to do so. In fact quite the opposite, they have thrown their weight behind the campaign.

Councillor Murphy. You fought against the proposal to build an electricity sub station on Carrill Fields, to protect the green spaces of Moston. As Chair of the Irk Valley Steering Committee you are tasked with looking after the green spaces running through this part of Moston, you were recently photographed in high vis and a hard hat visiting an environmental regeneration project in New Moston. How can you claim to have green credentials when you are backing this proposal?  Please do not counter this with the usual nonsense about off road bikers’, dog shit and lack of showers. Shame on you.

Councillor Tavernor. Following initial comments suggesting that you may be against this proposal you now seem to be in favour of it. You were firmly against the proposal for Oldham Athletic to build a new stadium at the bottom of Broadway but are not against the proposal to build a football stadium in the heart of your own constituency, why is this? I have been told that members of your family have various links with FC United of Manchester and Moston Juniors. Both of these organisations stand to gain from this proposal. I wait to be convinced that your family connections have not swayed your opinion on this matter.

To both of you I say that you have failed to take into account the strong representations made to you by numerous local residents who have come to you asking for your help in fighting this proposal. One local Councillor has thrown his weight against this proposal and has seemingly been ostracised for taking this stand.  I noted that you were not present earlier today when the Planning Committee visited the site. Again I say you should both be ashamed of yourselves.

As I said earlier many people have viewed this proposal as a ‘done deal’ from day one. Residents have been consulted because the Council has a statutory duty to do so, their objections have been pushed aside as if they don’t count. Letters of support have flooded in from far and wide and it really didn’t matter how far away this was because the ‘Yes’ campaign were happy to provide addresses of convenience for these people. The Planning Department have been informed of this and are unwilling to discount these letters stating that it is the sentiment that counts, not where they came from.

This whole sorry affair has been conducted from day one very much ‘behind closed doors’. The Council decided what the outcome would be and seem to have aided and abetted FC United of Manchester in their search for a home within the confines of North Manchester. Brownfield sites have been ignored, their possible suitability not investigated. Covenants can apparently be “navigated through” and objections must be on valid planning grounds whilst letters of support can be based on sentiment. I wonder how much of the tax payers money has been spent on this proposal and whether a not a charge of malfeasance in public office could be leveled at any of the individuals signing off this expenditure? The whole thing stinks and unfortunately you are now tarnished with this stench.

Although the extent of the land that is to be built upon may fall outside the land donated by Sir Edward Tootal Broadhurst, and as such may not be as well protected by covenants as the rest of the land that makes up Broadhurst Park and Fields, my research into why the Corporation bought this land in 1934 was most revealing. The Superintendent at the time proposed to the Corporation that if the land were to be built upon it would spoil the amenity of Broadhurst Park. The Corporation purchased the land to stop this happening. What makes the Council of 2011 think that it would now be appropriate to build on this land? Yes we are living in a different time but there is less green space in Moston now than back in 1934. Why would we destroy this green space? Were the Councillors of 1934 far more altruistic than their present day counterparts?

I would again like to draw your attention to the attached map of Moston. Each one of those red dots represents at least one voter who has, by your direct actions, been let down by you. Some of these red dots represent clusters of voters. There are two votes in my household that you will no longer receive and when my eldest son turns 18 next year you will not receive his support. I can go further than this when I state that a good number of these local residents will actively campaign against you at the next election. I hope you are pleased with yourselves.

You may or may not wish to reply to the above comments but quite frankly I no longer care what either of you have to say on this subject. The local residents will speak in due course.

Yours sincerely

Mr D Myrtle

Ronald Johnson Fields currently surrounded by fencing.



The BTCV has awarded Moston & District Archaeology & Social History Society
Awarded £9,999
for conservation work on Broadhurst Clough

The project site is a public park known as Lower Broadhurst Clough. Some parts of the park are heavily overgrown and some areas are waterlogged and inaccessible. The area has received a large amount of vandalism and environmental damage from motorbike activities. The aim of this project is to provide safe and secure access to the lower section of the park and enhance the areas biodiversity through the planting of wetland and woodland wildflowers. The project will transform an uninviting area into a site for recreational use that can be enjoyed by all. Volunteers are keen to be involved in all aspects of the project.

Dear Postbag,


Anyone familiar with current thinking on the future of planning will be

aware of the growing opposition to the government’s proposed changes to

planning law.


The National Trust, Campaign to Protect Rural England, World Wildlife

Fund and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds – hardly a group

of ‘leftie’ militants –  to mention a few, have joined the chorus of

disapproval for the National Planning Policy Framework which threatens

our greenfield sites with large-scale developments.


Now, Prince William has joined the campaign, to safeguard our playing

fields, parks and woodland, beseeching  us to defend them or risk

losing them forever. “Green spaces” he says ” are the beating heart of

any community. Whether you live in a dense city or the middle of the

countryside, fields provide a safe place for true sport, for talent to

be nurtured, confidence to be built and for children and teenagers to

let off steam.”


Why then does the Labour-run Manchester city council persist in its

enthusiastic support for building a football stadium on a greenfield

site in Moston ?


If they have £750,000 to spare – their financial commitment to the

development – could they not spend it on restoring the Ronald Johnson

Playing Field to its former glory with football, cricket, bowling and

tennis facilities rather than creating a stadium for a semi-

professional football club the majority of whose players and fans do

not even live in Moston ?


Manchester city council are not so much out of step with current

thinking, they are galloping wantonly in the opposite direction. And

guess what their party colleague, the shadow environment secretary, Mary

Creagh, recently had to say on the subject :”Government policy should

be amended so that it reinstates, as a requirement, that brownfield

sites are developed ahead of greenfield sites.”


That’s Labour policy – stick to it!


Bob Hill


Manchester Evening News, October 21st, 2011

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