Linda has lived in her social rent house in Ordsall for 44 years, first with her parents and, for the last thirty years as a tenant in her own right. It's her family home. But now she's got to move, with the crippling Bedroom Tax adding £90 a fortnight to her rent...
"It's heartbreaking" she says "I've got all my neighbours around me and everyone knows everyone else. I've got to downsize but there's no properties available at the moment..."
No properties? No properties!!! Ordsall is teaming with properties. Everywhere you look there's newly built properties or workmen building new properties, and big hoardings announcing the latest housing plans. From Trafford Road to Ordsall Lane, from Radclyffe Park to Robert Hall Street, development is booming. But long standing residents of Ordsall are convinced that none of it is for them.
"I've lived here all my life" says Linda "but I feel like we're being pushed out of the way. They should be building more affordable houses."
On Robert Hall Street and at Hulton Square, to rent one of the new town houses costs £975 per month, while a two bedroom apartment at Steele House on the re-branded `Ordsall Waterfront' was up for sale at £145,000; advertised as being `ideal for investors' with potential rents valued at £800 per month.
At the Welcome Inn on Robert Hall Street, Jeri has every sympathy for Linda... "She's being forced out" she agrees "There will be no council houses here soon, I think; it will be all private houses. And no-one from here will be able to afford to live here. Who can afford £800 a month? You can knock on every new house and no-one will be from here. Nine out of ten haven't grown up on the Ordsall estate."
Indeed, because of its sheer proximity to Manchester on one side and MediaCityUK on the other, Ordsall is being squeezed by developers who see it as the latest addition to their `Manchester' Monopoly board...
The marketing of Bridgewater Gate, a block of 53 `fashionable apartments' being built on Ordsall Lane, is a case in point. Here, prices start at £114,995 for a tiny studio apartment and rise to £167,495, minimum, for a three bedroom flat...
"This superb residential development caters for all investor budgets, needs and requirements" states the hype by investment company Knight Knox "With expected NET returns of circa 6%, Bridgewater Gate presents itself as an optimal investment opportunity for savvy investors who realise the true potential of Salford as a booming buy-to-let market..."
The problem is that the community don't want their neighbourhood being turned into a `buy-to-let' market. They want real homes for themselves, their kids and their grandkids. Mike, who has lived in Ordsall for 55 years, is having a pint at the Bricklayers Arms, literally across the road from the site of Bridgewater Gate and its sister development, Bridgewater Point where the first phase of 134 `bespoke investment properties' has already sold out.
"No locals will be able to afford these apartments" he says "It seems to be at the expense of local people. The community is being pushed out and you will not find anyone who will totally agree with it..."
No-one, that is, except Salford City Council, run by the Labour Party, which seems to be giving developers a green light to do as they please, without providing any affordable housing or putting anything back into the community. Last summer, the Council brought out a new Supplementary Planning Document, or SPD, which classified land at Ordsall Riverside as a `mid value' area.
Previously, developers building flats in this area would have to provide between 10% and 20% affordable properties within their schemes and pay planning fees towards local amenities and infrastructure, based on an amount per bed space built. For Bridgewater Point this would have been £966,060, and for Bridgewater Gate it would have been £241,515, giving a total back to the community of well over £1million. The two schemes would also have to contribute around 25 affordable properties.
However, under the new policy, Salford Council completely wiped out any need for developers to provide any affordable homes or pay anything for building flats, arguing that it would affect the `viability' of the schemes, ie the developer's profit...
"The potential for apartment schemes in Ordsall Riverside to support planning obligations was assessed by the City Council as part of the preparation of the updated planning obligations SPD (2015)" stated the Council planning report for Bridgewater Gate "This involved a strategic assessment of viability and concluded that apartment developments within Ordsall Riverside would not be able to support planning obligations."
The developer's profit, based on Council figures, would be over £7million for Bridgewater Point and Bridgewater Gate. On top of this add the buy-to-let investors' returns of around 6% per year, and the place is awash with big, big money. It's everywhere. Except within the community itself. Freshly released Government statistics class inner Ordsall, where the long standing community live, as within the 3%-7% most deprived areas in England.
"What are the prospects for local people in Ordsall?" asks Cheryl Gibbons, who, is the landlady at the Bricklayers Arms and also manages the Shaw Trust shop, one of two charity shops out of six new units at Radclyffe Park. She answers her own question...
"Zero...None...Zilch" she insists "They're not doing anything for local residents who have lived here a long time. They're doing it for everyone else they're going to drag in. I've said it at meetings... `We can't afford these houses that you are throwing up'; I spoke to one of the architects and asked if he lived in one of the houses and he said `Yes', and I said `Yes, but on your salary, we don't have those salaries here in Ordsall'.
"They're not looking at the people who have been in Ordsall for all these generations" Cheryl adds, while serving second hand toys and clothes in the packed charity shop "They're just being greedy, I think, because they're appealing to the people at Media City. They don't want Ordsall as an estate; they want to change it into something completely different."
Away from the Ordsall Waterfront and its swish, unaffordable apartments, Salford Council has handed over the whole inner estate to LPC Living for redeveloping, based on a `Development Framework' cobbled together over ten years ago. This stated that much of the new housing "will be affordable for Ordsall residents".
Since then LPC claims "607 affordable properties built" - which is almost every single house and flat the company has constructed. However, a quick glance at the sales prices shows that, when built in 2011, three bedroom terraced houses in Hulton Square went for between £149,500 and £154,900. Even a two bedroom flat on the scheme cost £132,901. Hardly `affordable' in `real' Ordsall, where the average household income is around £21,000.
LPC does have various `Help To Buy' and `First Time Buyer' schemes but the official Housing Monitor for Greater Manchester, which includes Salford, shows that the typical household income of first time buyers is over £38,000. It then deconstructed the help deals and concluded that its evidence "highlights how difficult it is and will be in the foreseeable future to gain access to owner occupation".
This would explain the sight of a Porsche parked outside one of the new townhouses and a statement from Simon Ashdown, director at LPC Living, who said "The properties at Hulton Square appeal to a variety of people including families and professionals due to its proximity to MediaCity and good transport links to Manchester."
For Salford City Council it's all about what it calls "housing market health", through "the provision of housing for the economically active and providing a mix of tenure". In other words, it's not interested in providing more social housing for those who need it most.
"They're building houses all of the same ilk" Cheryl explains "I've told them, all our families, children grandchildren are being fielded out because there's no housing available. They're leaving the area because they can't afford the housing; it's for people on higher incomes."
The Salford Star invited LPC to answer various questions on the number of affordable properties it's built, how it defines `affordable' and how many of its properties have been bought by landlords renting them out at £975 per month. LPC wouldn't comment. The Star further asked LPC to respond to the perception that the new properties are not affordable for the community and not aimed at them. Again, the company declined to comment.
As has been shown by the Salford Star (see past issues and the website), in all of Salford's regeneration areas redevelopment has been about diluting the city's social and economic problems rather than solving them, and Ordsall is no different.
The influx of what the LPC director called `professionals', has pushed the median household income of the Ordsall ward as a whole (which includes Media City and the Ordsall Waterfront) up to £30,479, the fourth highest in Salford, ranking alongside the likes of Worsley, Boothstown and Claremont. The ward has also seen the city's biggest improvement in deprivation rankings, moving up six places according to latest Government indices.
Yet, at the same time, the estate itself, or inner Ordsall, is classed by the Government as within the worst ten per cent of areas in England for employment, child poverty and `income deprivation'.
Morrisons, on the new Radclyffe Park development, was supposed to be a `catalyst for regeneration' and two hundred jobs but closed recently. And don't talk to anyone about MediaCityUK and the BBC sparking employment. Even Labour Party Mayor candidate, Paul Dennett, has denounced the BBC, stating in his campaign literature that "in the first round of new jobs, only 26 Salfordians were employed there".
Meanwhile, the influx of new population of all nationalities has put a strain on local health and education services, with people complaining they can't get appointments at the new health centre and the dentists; while local kids in the reception and nursery classes have to re-apply for places in Year 1 at the recently built Primrose Hill Primary School.
For civic campaigner, Adam Prince, who with others, has been trying to oppose Peel Holdings' plans for thousands of flats on Pomona across the Manchester Ship Canal in Trafford, the strain on public services in Ordsall is going to get worse.
"With Pomona there's no need for any infrastructure in any of the masterplans" he explains "They are just building rich ghetto neighbourhoods and if those people use the health and public services they will saturate them and stretch resources. Peel doesn't have any social obligation to provide these things; it's just facilitated to make their own private profits and it's going to leave a damaging legacy."
On the estate itself, as boulevards spring up and an allotment has been added, remnants of the old community's heart have been airbrushed out with a bulldozer. The British Legion community venue has been demolished, along with the old health centre and what was left of the precinct. The sites are all earmarked for houses, apartments and `public realm', with the centre of the estate swept out to the Trafford Road edge, facing the Quays. Even the old dole office on Trafford Road is being converted into fancy apartments.
"I've seen a few changes" says 72 year old William Norton, sitting in the Welcome Inn "Ordsall was like one family but it's gone. The flats and houses are not for local people with the prices they are asking, Media City hasn't helped and even the Legion has gone. It's not the same."
The one mainstay is Salford Lads Club, where politicians and business exec tourists flock to get their Smiths street cred, while blinkered to what is going on elsewhere on the estate.
"When I first came here there were three job centres, now there's none; we had two nights of the youth service, in dedicated youth centre space, and that's gone" says Gail Skelly, who has worked at Ordsall Community Arts, or OCA, for twelve years.
"The only youth activity is two workers who do the girls club on Tuesday at the Lads Club and some stuff at Oasis" she adds "The youth service in terms of Salford Community Leisure has been reduced, and while there have been other self contained projects as well, in terms of regular activities for young people, there's less."
OCA itself, which will be forty years old in 2019, is "financially endangered", Gail explains, with proposals by Salford City Council to cut its grant. This despite OCA having a really strong group of volunteers, including those who have moved into the area wanting to integrate into the existing community.
"The young people who came here as kids are now volunteering too, and that's key for our existence" Gail adds "But you need to pay people to facilitate that or you can't do anything large scale or of any scope.
"There's two very different pictures in Ordsall" she insists "There's the housing development and what difference that has made to the local population; and there's the withdrawal of central government funding which has made a massive impact on services provided by the local authority."
It's a damning indictment of the premise that throwing loads of expensive houses up is somehow going to help a community. Even MediaCityUK, almost across the road from where OCA operates, has had absolutely no impact on the art organisation's sustainability...
"The Quays Culture partnership was set up to programme large shows that would attract visitors; it's to make the Peel investment culturally interesting and to entice visitors to come and buy hotel rooms and restaurant spaces" Gail explains "Economic regeneration isn't community regeneration, it's a completely different thing."
Salford Council has recently extended its deal with LPC for a further five years, to build another 425 houses and apartments...."This agreement is further good news for Ordsall" said outgoing Salford Mayor Ian Stewart "Five years down the line, we will be in an even better position and Ordsall residents will reap the benefits of our commitment to making life better for them."
But, five years down the line, will residents like Linda, crippled by Bedroom Tax and without an affordable alternative, still be living in Ordsall?
FIVE SCHEMES THAT LOST ORDSALL ALMOST £4MILLION
Development Lost Planning Fee Lost Affordable Housing
Villafont Ltd and
Simandhar Swami LLP
Woden St £1,221,278 75apts
Beaumont Morgan Developments
260 apartments/13 townhouses
Off Ordsall Lane £1,207,575 25 apts/1townhouse
Knight Knox International
Trafford Road £600,000 11apts
Gresham Mill £630,902 14 apts
Elm Homes Ltd
Back of Ordsall Fit City £300,000 12 apts
Total Lost Planning Fees: £3,959,755
Total Lost Affordable Housing: 138 units
*Figures are taken from actual Salford Council planning reports unless not stated in reports. In these cases payments were estimated using the Council's own tables.
**Salford Council has changed its policy towards developers providing affordable housing in `mid value' areas for apartment development. These are estimates and actuals based on former policy of between 10% and 20% of the total.
***Only MMGG Properties paid anything at all towards planning fees - £55,000
This article appears in the latest print issue 11 of the Salford Star - to read the whole magazine click here
Main photo shows Ordsall's legal graffiti wall