Platting, Pigeons & PFI: A Community Map of Miles Platting
This map was created for the Manchester Histories’ Peterloo commemoration in Manchester in the summer of 2019 and was displayed in Manchester Central Library. The aim of this map was to highlight work that the community had been doing and the everyday life challenges that they experienced. The research process encouraged people to remember the Miles Platting neighbourhood as it was and think about how it works now and what aspects might not be seen or valued. The placing of sites of interest on the map was based on the memories held by group members. The map was produced through a collaborative process, shaped by all those that took part.
This interactive version of the map can be used to explore the findings as part of the counter mapping process, highlighting community challenges, community power mysteries and promises. Click on the map icons for more stories and information.
In making this map, the mapping researchers developed 3 themes for understanding everyday life in Miles Platting and collectively decided on the following icons:
What do we have?
What holds our community together?
A lot is happening in Miles Platting that might not be visible to people outside of the neighbourhood. There are many social activities, volunteering and community initiatives that are developed and facilitated by Miles Platting residents.
What has been taken away?
What does our community need?
The closure of public services, such as the swimming pool, clinics, schools and shops has made everyday life more difficult. The loss of places to meet informally has impacted how people interact in Miles Platting, while the closure of walkways and infrequent public transportation make it hard to get around. These issues present challenges to the community that residents are trying to change.
Mysteries and Promises
What changes are unexpected or unexplainable?
What have we been promised?
There are many unsolved mysteries that residents of Miles Platting want answers to, from ghosts and blue pigeons, to parks that were promised but no one can find. New, privately financed housing developments have names that refer to different neighbourhoods ‘Platting Village’ and ‘Weaver Park’, trying to attract new residents, while often leaving out those who already live there.
The Miles Platting Community Grocer Project is a community food-sharing membership project. It gives local residents affordable food, toiletries, and household essentials, as well as cooking courses and training and volunteer opportunities. It also creates a space for people to meet each other and build community while sharing a brew and toast.
BLUE PIGEONS AND INDUSTRIAL HISTORY
The dye works formerly located along the Rochdale Canal used to spew out dye that turned pigeons bright blue, a reminder of the neighbourhood’s industrial heritage and the impact on the environment. After the dye works closed, a BMX track on the site was a favourite place to play.
The swimming pool in Miles Platting was in the heart of the community, in a complex that included the library, clinic, housing office, probation office and shops. In 2013, they were closed by the council and the land is now part of a new housing development. Residents were left without community spaces, leisure activities, and a place to exercise. The alternative swimming pool is a pricey bus ride, or a one and a half mile walk away, which is not accessible for children or families. The new library is only open fifteen hours a week. These have been a devastating change to the neighbourhood, directly impacting health and the sense of community.
STREET SAFETY, PATHWAYS AND REDEVELOPMENT
The original redevelopment of Miles Platting (1970s) meant that houses were mostly “inward facing” providing many safe paths for walking or cycling to local facilities, including the former shops, library, and swimming pool. In contrast, most new housing faces busy roads, leading to problems of safety, noise and pollution. This is less “people-friendly” and has lowered environmental standards.
PLATTING PARK MYSTERY
As Miles Platting has been redeveloped, residents have been promised new services but promises are not always kept. After the loss of many trees and green spaces, residents were promised one thousand trees and a new park - ‘Platting Park’. We can’t find it, can you?
IMPACT OF AUSTERITY
In 2011, Manchester City Council announced that it needed to make £110 million pounds worth of cutbacks, putting the swimming pools, libraries, children's centres, youth clubs, public toilets, parks, clinics and many other public services under threat. The impact of these cuts has been devastating in areas like Miles Platting, which already had fewer resources. Many public services have been closed, despite being located in areas that really need them. During the last 10 years of austerity policies, inequality has increased, with cuts to services impacting low income neighbourhoods most. Who benefits from these cuts?
PRIVATISATION OF SPACE
Miles Platting has undergone much redevelopment in recent years, with more houses on the way. These developments often end up enclosing common lands and closing off walkways and greenspaces. Residents are particularly concerned about losing greenspaces and not knowing the future of their current parks. Privately financed housing is built where public services (like swimming pools, clinics, and libraries) used to be. Often this new housing is quite expensive. Who benefits from these developments?
NEIGHBOURHOOD PFI DEAL
Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) have existed since 1992, and have been used to jointly finance infrastructure between the state and private companies. In 2007 Manchester City Council signed an agreement to create the Miles Platting PF Ineighbourhood to build 1000 new, and repair 1500 existing homes alongside the creation of parks and other community spaces. The agreement is a 30-year contract between Manchester City Council and Renaissance Consortium, which is made up of a private building company (Lovell - a subsidiary of Morgan Sidall), a not-for-profit 'housing management company' (Adactus HA) and a building society or bank (a partnership between IIC Miles Platting and Lovell Miles Platting). The initial agreement cost Manchester City Council £160 million, but it is set to rise significantly, with borrowing fees, delays and additional charges. By 2014 all of the investment holdings in Renaissance Consortium had been sold to two larger investment funds based in Guernsey, an offshore tax haven. Who benefits from the PFI deal?
The People's Map of Manchester
As part of the Miles Platting map display, we invited visitors to contirbute to a "People's Map of Manchester"
Click here to see the interactive version of the Peoples map of Manchester