Friday, 4 November 2011

Hardy Farm Playing Fields

The above pictures shows the developer's plans for the Hardy Farm site.

A number of local residents have recently contacted me after the grass on the Hardy Farm site turned brown. I asked the City Council’s Environmental Protection Group to look into the issue urgently.

I have since learnt that this is part of plans to convert the meadow into playing fields and carry out other works to the site. The grass has been recently sprayed to deter grass growth and will be ploughed shortly. The land will be left to aerate over the winter. Next spring the plans are for laser levelling and pitch cultivation to take place. We also understand that a new see-through steel fence will replace the existing concrete ‘post and panel’ fence along the WDCAFC football club boundary in the next few months. The Sites of Biological Importance (SBI) will also be managed by a plan set out by the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit. I understand that the developers are planning to inform local residents of these plans in the near future.

This is the email I recieved from the Council's Environmental Protection Group:

Hello Councillor Chamberlain,

I have also recently received a similar request for information from Councillor Lewis and sent the following response:

With regard to your request for information about the Brown Meadows / Hardy Farm Landfill, I can respond as follows:

The Contaminated Land Section (CLS) of MCC are aware of the developments taking place on the area of land known as Hardy Farm. There is a planning application for the buildings (former sports centre) and contaminated land conditions are attached to the application. We are also in regular communication with the owners of the land and the developers and they are complying with the attached conditions.

The lands to the rear of the buildings are covered by a permitted development and therefore do not require planning permission. This allows the owners of the land to develop them for playing fields. The owners of the land recently sent an e-mail (see attachments) supplying plans and photographs.

The owners have also consulted various stakeholders including the Friends of Chorlton Meadow (Mr Bishop) and they are in the process of producing a leaflet to be distributed to local residents explaining the development.

Officers from the CLS undertake regular visits to sites of potential concern across Manchester and Hardy Farm has been on our visiting schedule for some time and has received numerous site visits.

In response to your specific questions, ‘Is the owner of this land breaking the law, if chemicals have been used the effect on the wildlife / bio diversity could be Catastrophic’? The owner has taken advice from the Greater Manchester Ecological Unit (Mr Derek Richardson) and is working to a plan agreed with them.

Why has Hardy Farm meadow gone brown? The owner is removing the shrubs and grasses with the application of plant retardants; this has been undertaken by Complete Weed Control (Manchester).

What are the implications on the landfill site soil cap? The CLS have discussed with the owner about the proposals and the integrity of the cap. Plans and details of the cap are to be supplied to us for review. It has also been stated that the overall depth / thickness of the cap will be increased, not decreased.

Continual destruction of the vegetation will eventually lead to erosion of the top soil end expose the underlying and potentially harmful landfill contents. Please review the attached photographs showing the proposals for the end use and the grassed areas.

The following questions can be answered with a single answer below.

I am concerned that the proprietor may have treated it with some kind of chemical?
If so what are the implications of this on the natural habitat for insects, bats, and pets?
What are the likely effects on general public health depending on what chemicals, if any, have been used?
What is the potential for any chemicals leaching into the river and surrounding environment?

The owner of the land has hired a specialist contractor to undertake the works on site. The contractors use ‘best practice’, sustainable techniques, approved herbicides (see attachment), are fully qualified and apply all relevant health and safety protocols. With the works being part of a permitted development the Planning Department and the Contaminated Land Section can only act if the law is being broken and we receive proof of this.

The CLS and Planning Department have been in correspondence and had meetings with the owners of the land and have been assured that the development will undertaken in a professional manner and all reasonable requests will be undertaken. The CLS will closely monitor the situation within our permitted remit.

With regard to planning information and applications the case officer for the site is Paula McGovern.

I hope this answers your questions. If you need any further information regarding Contaminated Land issues for this site please feel free to get in touch.

Kind regards,

Simon Rogers
Environmental Protection Specialist - Contaminated Land

Manchester City Council
Environmental Protection Group

Please let me know what you think about the plans. I will bring your views to the attention of the relevant agencies and the developer.

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