Climate Emergency Manchester believes that real change is necessary right now (the clue is in our name). We don’t believe that change will come primarily (or maybe at all) from the top-down. We believe that to make the kind of bottom-up pressures that create and sustain democratic and ecological change, then there has to be an ever-richer ecosystem of resistance (resistance to what? to stupidity, inequality and the ideologies that excuse it, authoritarianism, neoliberalism, “etc/tbc”). One way we are trying to contribute to the creation and maintenance of that ever-richer ecosystem is by celebrating the work of other groups, whether they are user-led domestic abuse charities, cycle delivery coops, food coops, energy coops, or … campaigning groups like Trees Not Cars.
Trees Not Cars is a community group organised by a small team of people who live or work (or both) in Manchester City Centre. On Thursday 17th October 2019, Manchester City Council’s planning committee voted through controversial plans to use the former Central Retail Park in Ancoats as a temporary 440-space car park for up to two years (originally 5 years). The Central Retail Park had been closed for 18 months before this vote took place. They ignored 12,200 people who signed our petition (10,000 of these living in Greater Manchester and 5000 in Manchester City Centre). After the Planning application was approved by the Planning and Highway Committee we appealed the decision. Following the Court hearing on the 8th of January 2021 Trees Not Cars won a judicial review against Manchester City Council.
The decision found that Manchester Council had
- Failed to consider the impact of air quality on the local area around Ancoats
- Failed to consider the impact of building a polluting 440-space car park next to the only primary school in Manchester City Centre.
- Was unlawful in that the Council recommended planning approval based on the wrong information, the wrong air quality assessment, and traffic analysis
2. What are the 2021 goals for your organisation?
Those who responded to Trees Not Cars consultation describe using the area around Central Retail Park for walking (56%), exercise like running and cycling (30%), relaxing (25%), and socialising (14%).
Our next steps would be to put more public pressure on the Council to change their plans and to bring local residents in to the discussion about the future of the site.
3. If people get involved with your group, what sorts of things would they end up doing?
4. What are the specific skills and knowledge you’re lacking?
5. Complete this sentence: “For Manchester to become more sustainable/less unsustainable, in the next six months…. (and you can answer that question either with “the council needs to” or “citizens need to” or both):