The bid to keep leafy Manchester suburb "attractive and welcoming" and what people on high street think

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Artists' impressions have been released of how this trendy part of Manchester could soon look.

People in Chorlton are being asked to shape the future of their high street. Manchester City Council has launched a consultation with a view to making sure it remains an “attractive, welcoming and accessible space for local people and visitors to enjoy”.

As part of the Public Realm Plan, artists’ impressions of how areas including Wilbraham Road could look have been released - with the council hoping to benefit the local commercial, retail and food and drink offer with a “distinct district centre plan”. 

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One of the images released by Manchester City Council for the Chorlton Public Realm PlanOne of the images released by Manchester City Council for the Chorlton Public Realm Plan
One of the images released by Manchester City Council for the Chorlton Public Realm Plan | Manchester City Council

With all this is mind, we paid a visit to Chorlton one wet Wednesday afternoon to find out what locals made of their town centre right now. And, on the whole, people were happy with a lot of aspects of the services and events in the area but some were infuriated by the closure of the Chorlton Cross Shopping Centre as well as the three central banks which make everyday tasks increasingly difficult. 

The plan for the precinct, which had been open since 1973, is to demolish it and the adjacent Graham House office building and replace it with 200 homes and some retail units. There is however no clear timescale on the One Chorlton project after the public consultation closed in December. 

Jean Bardsley and Veronica James have both lived in Chorlton for more than 50 years but feel the everyday needs of people have been forgotten. 

“Shops. We could use more shops, not artisan bakeries,” the pair said. “Just normal shops. Quality Save, how we miss that. 

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Chorlton Precinct is much-loved by some residents. Chorlton Precinct is much-loved by some residents.
Chorlton Precinct is much-loved by some residents. | Manchester World

“We miss the banks. We used to have six banks, now they have the Post Office but you don’t want to conduct your private business in front of a long queue do you. I would never use it. I have to trail down to Levenshulme or Longsight to get to the TSB.”

They feel that the closure of the shopping centre has led to major decreases in footfall and believe that the high street offers no reason to visit.  This point was echoed by teacher Diane Swan, who has lived in Chorlton all her life and felt that whilst transport services are good the borough lacks green space.

“Obviously the closure of Chorlton Cross shopping centre has not helped,” she said. “We are all a bit fed up about that, I know I was because you had everything you needed there and now there is just going to be a lot of housing and apartments. I would like to see more green space I suppose, that would be good.”

Diane Swan spoke to us on the streets of Chorlton Diane Swan spoke to us on the streets of Chorlton
Diane Swan spoke to us on the streets of Chorlton | ManchesterWorld

Manchester City Council say they want to create projects that are endorsed by the local community with a particular focus on three key locations for development - outside Chorlton Library, at Four Banks, and at High Lane Junction. 

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These sorts of projects will appeal to people like Jack Cravitz, who has lived in the area for two years and hopes that a centralised area will encourage people to come and enjoy the suburb itself rather than having to travel elsewhere.

“It would be great to have a new precinct,” he said. “A little bit smarter and up-to-date and somewhere that is a place to hang out in the centre.

“There are a lot of places around like Whalley Range and Beech Road but nothing in the middle. If there was a balance between big chain shops and having more things to do like restaurants and cafes that would be great.”

Jack, 32, feels his football team, West Didsbury and Chorlton, are one of the great assets in the area but a lack of publicity detracts from people watching the games and visiting the area. 

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“I think we need more publicity about the stuff that does go around here,” he added. “West Didsbury and Chorlton get a massive crowd every game 600-800 people. Maybe a larger stadium for people to use who are coming to visit. It’s like some parts of town have a lot going on and some don’t.”

Chorlton Makers Market Chorlton Makers Market
Chorlton Makers Market | Manchester City Council

One aspect which all Chorlton residents agreed upon was how much they enjoyed the Makers Market, and felt that more events like this could bring real benefit to the area.  Andrew, a carer who worked in the area, believed that Chorlton’s independent spirit and traders would be essential in any regeneration. 

“It is a prime retail site and a prime retail area and I hope that continues really,” he said. "If you had a space to build on the Makers Market, and a space you could use for events once a month."

Marcus Hampson, 26, agreed: “It would be great to see some food and art festivals and things like that, obviously they do their market but things like that would be good. I would maybe pedestrianise along Beech Road and the High Street to an extent, it would be nice if there weren't so many cars.”

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Marcus Hampton in ChorltonMarcus Hampton in Chorlton
Marcus Hampton in Chorlton | ManchesterWorld

What next for the Chorlton consultation?

The public consultation is now live and will remain open until March 19. In person consultation events will be held on Thursday, March 7 at Chorlton Central Church between 3-7pm and on Saturday, March 8 between 1-4pm at Oswald Road Primary School. 

What Manchester City Council say about the consultation

Cllr Gavin White, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and development said: “We have made a clear commitment to focus on our district centres across Manchester and ensure our local high streets are vibrant, attractive and welcoming spaces for local people and visitors.  

“These centres are the beating hearts of our communities, and their strength is in providing a range of vital local services on the doorsteps of our residents. The economic prosperity of these spaces is directly linked to the prosperity of the wider local neighbourhood – and the right investment is crucial to support their continued success. 

“Chorlton will welcome a number of key developments in the coming months and years – and this is the community's opportunity to help guide how their high street and public spaces will look and feel in the years ahead.”

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