Opposite Pomona, where campaigners wanted an urban park but instead got two ugly blocks of flats backed by a cheap loan of £10.3million from Greater Manchester Combined Authority (see here and see here), six blocks of apartments are taking shape.
Salford Council refers to this area as 'Ordsall Waterfront' but developers Villafont have taken it a step further and re-branded its complex of 'hotel style' apartments as 'Downtown Manchester'.
The flats are being marketed to investors at home and abroad as profit farms, promising a 'rental yield' of 7%. The cheapest one bedroom apartment costs £163,000, rising to £273,000 for the cheapest three bedroom place. No local people struggling for housing need apply...
"Downtown is Manchester's premier residence" states the blurb from Villafont, which adds that the blocks of 368 apartments will "create a new contemporary and iconic landmark property in Manchester, to service the needs of an ever increasing aspirational residential community."
Villafont is not only re-branding the complex as in 'Manchester' but is also giving nothing back to Salford, in a double insult to the city.
When planning permission was granted for the blocks two years ago, Villafont avoided paying £1,221,278 in planning obligations to mitigate the impacts of its development.
Councillors agreed to waive the fees, as Villafont was tarting up a bit of the riverside footpath, and because the scheme wouldn't be 'viable' if it had to cough up the money: ie its profits wouldn't be high enough (see previous Salford Star article – click here).
Villafont should also have been providing 20% affordable housing, or 75 properties, but this policy was waived too. A 'clawback' clause was inserted, whereby if the profits were huge enough, some money would be paid back to the Council – but the Salford Star only knows of one development in the whole of central Salford where this has actually happened.
Last night, Salford artists commented on the Villafont scheme which, they argued, was selling a 'utopian' lifestyle of the place - in Manchester - that just doesn't fit.
Nowhere on any of the sales blurb or hoardings does it mention the word 'Salford'. Even the illustrations of the 'contemporary' apartments feature a picture of a London scene by Lowry on the wall. The artists covered this with a photo of a bulldozer smashing down affordable housing in central Salford. They also added an old photo of Ordsall women too, to give it a sense of place.
The giant hoardings show happy 'aspirational' people walking down sterilised streets in front of the future shiny blocks. Here, the artists added some tents to represent the amount of homeless people in the area.
...A few hundred yards up from the Downtown Manchester site, homeless people are sleeping under a bridge by the massive Wilburn Street development of four blocks of 491 unaffordable flats. Here, WB Developments avoided almost £2million in planning fees (see here).
Behind all the new apartment blocks, Ordsall itself remains within the 3%-7% most deprived areas in England.
A few years ago, Salford City Council drew up a development strategy which included a map for a new 'Regional Centre'. The boundary line for the Centre included MediaCityUK and Ordsall Waterfront but not Ordsall itself (see here).
Developers are taking their cue from Salford Council and re-branding apartment complexes as in Manchester – or Downtown Manchester - to make them more sexy. Salford artists are putting some truth into the equation.
See also previous Salford Star article on the Ordsall Boom – click here