Ryebank Fields is green field land bordering Chorlton and Firswood in South Manchester. It has over 1,400 trees, provides a rich habitat for wildlife and is home to the historically important, ‘Nico Ditch’, an ancient boundary marker dating back to the Anglo-Saxon period and mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.
These fields have been well used and enjoyed by nature lovers, joggers and families alike for years.
It is currently under threat.
A brief history
The land was formerly Jackson’s Brickworks, where clay was extracted. From 1946 onwards, the claypits were used as a landfill for hazardous waste. The pits were around 40 feet deep and are within 6 feet of gardens in neighbouring properties.
The land was reclaimed by Manchester City Council (MCC) Parks Department around 1972 under ‘operation eyesore’, when they were covered and grassed over. The fields were given to Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) by MCC, under covenant, to be used for sports and recreation purposes only. In 1996 MMU moved their sports facilities to Carrington and abandoned Ryebank Fields. Over the subsequent 24 years, the fields have been reclaimed by nature and have become home to a diverse array of wildlife and a hugely important community resource.
What is the threat?
MMU wish to sell Ryebank Fields to a housing developer. In 2017 they produced a Development Framework with proposals to build 70 executive homes on Ryebank Fields. This was subsequently increased to 120. Their Development Framework was formally adopted by Manchester City Council in June 2019 and in 2020 the number of proposed homes increased to 140.
As well as the community need for this space for physical and mental wellbeing, any development has the potential to increase traffic, flooding and pollution. MMU’s own site investigation reports show how heavily contaminated the land is and the level of remediation for housing that would be needed would pose a huge risk to the local community due to the nature of the contaminants.
The only option for these fields is to allow nature to continue to regenerate the land, there is no risk if the site is left undisturbed. We have presented our vision for the future in conjunction with The University of Manchester, in a document ‘A working Research Report on Ryebank Fields’ You can see the document here:
MMU board of governors rejected this proposal along with a proposal from their Students when they were submitted in March 2020. They purely want to make money from something that belonged to the community and was given to them in trust. It is immoral. The Friends of Ryebank Fields say, no dig- no development- no pollution. We are working hard to prevent this development from going ahead so that this wonderful green open space remains an asset for everyone, forever.
Why We Need Funds?
Friends of Ryebank Fields are opposing this development and need funds to seriously challenge the might of MMU and MCC. Money is needed for legal help, archaeological surveys and publicity.
If you believe that your green space needs to be protected, please donate and share this campaign with your friends and family: https://www.gofundme.com/SaveRyebankFields
Thanks in advance for your support!
For more information on the campaign please see our website where you can get links to our social media pages https://www.saveryebankfields.org/
- Samantha Walters
- Karen Howarth
- Karen Whittick
- Mark Ruston
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