Star date: 15th October 2018


'You can't even stop your car to take in the breathtaking sterilization of the place...'

Last week, artists moved into a stunning Urban Splash house in the new Springfield Lane development as part of a year-long project called Tenancy in which they will explore 'what it's like to live in a city negotiating rapid change' and 'who is benefitting'.

The Springfield Lane development, being branded as in 'Manchester', has no affordable housing and avoided hundreds of thousands of pounds in planning fees. Can the artist project, actually sponsored by Tom Bloxham and Urban Splash, make a difference?

Full details here...

Tenancy Salford Tenancy Salford Tenancy Salford
Tenancy Salford Tenancy Salford Tenancy Salford
Tenancy Salford Tenancy Salford Tenancy Salford
Tenancy Salford Tenancy Salford Tenancy Salford
Tenancy Salford Tenancy Salford Tenancy Salford
Tenancy Salford John Cooper Clarke
click image to enlarge

The first thing you notice on entering the new Springfield Lane estate of 'bespoke' housing, off Trinity Way, is a hoarding by Alliance Investments flogging upcoming apartments, branded Uptown Riverside Manchester.

If that's not enough to get your back up, there's a sign at the side of the estate's roads warning 'NO PARKING OR STOPPING AT ANY TIME'...

...'Stopping'??? You can't even stop your car to take in the breathtaking sterilization of the place, with not a piece of grass out of order, nor a dog that isn't designer.

This Lego inspired development is the epitome of the John Cooper-Clark re-working tart-up of his classic Beasley Street poem, as Beasley Boulevard... an `urban splash art ghetto', where there's 'Nobody there to harsh your buzz'...and 'Anything could happen/But it hardly ever does'...*

...Well maybe not. Into this Stepford-lives type scenario comes a group of artists taking up a year-long residency in one of the houses that cost up to £335,000 (plus add-ons).

Titled Tenancy, the project is bringing in artists from all over Europe, and "explores what it's like to live in a city negotiating rapid change" states the blurb... "It asks how these bright new cities are being shaped – who is making decisions and who is benefitting. It examines what new communities are being created, and what might be being lost..."

The project aims to 'respond to the growth and change'... "But as cranes tower over the city's skyline, there's been a visible rise in the number of people sleeping rough on the streets below" it adds "Requirements for affordable housing in new developments are sometimes sidestepped, while the waiting list for social housing has swollen to 80,000 across the Greater Manchester region. What is happening to neighbourliness amid this paradox of boom and crisis?"

Some people from the Salford community might say that Springfield Lane, or Bloxham-on-Irwell, is the epicentre of a straight forward legalised theft of resources from the city, sanctioned by Salford City Council.

The Urban Splash planning application for this site was passed with no affordable housing requirements, plus £636,000 avoided in planning fees for the first application for 71 houses (or HoUSes as they were called in the poncey sales hype) and one hundred flats. Salford Council included a clawback of 'up to' £100,000 for a riverside walkway if profits subsequently go stellar.

For the next application, Urban Splash upped the number of apartments to 150, for which it was docked a mere £150,000 in Section 106 payments, plus another clawback which the chair of the planning panel stated would "not necessarily go to affordable housing". Even councillors on the planning panel were shocked, one calling the payment of a mere £1,000 per apartment "derisory".

It is into this political maelstrom that the artists are being plunged. And they're not having it too hard, living in a luxury house and being sponsored by Tom Bloxham, Urban Splash and the Bloxham Charitable Trust (as well as the Granada Foundation, Slater Heelis, Ben Caldwell and co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme). How's that going to impact the integrity of the project? Mr Bloxham doesn't take criticism too easy...

"We'll see what happens, maybe he will kick us out but we were very clear at the start of the project about what we were doing, so maybe it's a reality that those things are in the air and on the table, and maybe this might be a way of bridging them or broaching them" says Richard Gregory, co-artistic director of Quarantine which is organising and curating Tenancy.

We're sat on the comfy couch on the first floor of the HoUSe during the official house warming. Through the door comes the strains of a singer songwriter who's sat in the bath composing a tune based around building regulations. In the second bedroom, an artist invites people into her boudoir for some intimate Pillow Talk conversation.

Downstairs, the dining room is festooned with menus offering a series of questions, culminating with Today's Special: Rent or Buy? That's a bit of a joke for people living on the streets or in squats or stuck at number 7,000 on the Salford housing waiting list...

"We're really conscious that it's an intensely political project and we're not running away from that; that's the reason for creating the project, to confront those questions; it's not about 'This is a nice house', that would be really stupid and politically naive" Richard explains "The history of our work is trying to create situations and circumstances for conversations and we want the house and the artists to function in that way.

"We wanted to do that from the inside rather than standing outside just throwing stones at it" he adds "That has a great value but we wanted to put ourselves on the inside of it and wrestle with the reality of the situation."

At the house warming no-one's really wrestling with anything apart from some delicious Asian food being concocted and loads of rather nice wine. The talk is in hushed tones, and there don't seem to be any proper Salford people here. So is there anything for the nearby indigenous communities and are they going to be included in the project. In other words, will they be allowed into Bloxham la-la land?

"They can come if they want" Richard responds "The project is really trying to look at the ways in which housing development in Salford and Manchester is impacting on people's lives. Who's benefitting from it, who's not? And how the conversation happens between people who make the decisions about housing and those who might not be part of that.

"We're trying to raise some of those questions and to see how these kinds of developments impact on neighbourliness" he adds "Across the year there are artists coming from different art form backgrounds, different situations and countries, and I don't know how they will do it because their brief is to get to know their neighbours and neighbourhood, and they will have different approaches. People can get in touch if they're interested, and we'll produce a listing of things happening in the house that they can come to..."

The first residents to be staying in the HoUSe are a family of performers and visual artists from Yorkshire, Grace Surman and Gary Winters, plus their kids Hope and Merrick and dog Eider. Also scheduled to stay are Sarah Vanhee with her collaborator Flore Herman... "Her work has been very directly and provocatively political" Richard explains "She had a brilliant piece where she would, uninvited, attend board meetings and council meetings and make this fabulous speech..."

Salford Civic Centre awaits, although she'll probably be told to 'shut up' like the other dissenting councillors. Also coming to Bloxham-on-Irwell are Palestinian visual artist, Shayma Nader, who explores 'urbanisation and social resistance', Turkish artist Ali Taptik, with Okay Karadayilar, who will be looking at the relationship between the individual and the city, England's Jo Fong and Sonia Hughes, exploring 'the power of conversation' and, from Poland, Janek Turkowski and Iwona Nowacka, who create performances using archive film. Is it a recipe for comfy artistic masturbation or is something proper going to happen?

"I'm interested in art being useful, creating some sort of shift or change, and I know that this is a complex and often controversial issue" Richard concludes "The questions about housing and how we organise housing in our city is one of the most urgent questions at this moment in time and if, through this project, we can shift or help with the debate, then that's what we hope..."

The jury is out and the challenge is on...

Tenancy is part of Meet the Neighbours, happening in five cities across Europe and North Africa – in Béthune, Lillers and Bruay-la-Bussiere in France; Lublin in Poland; Marrakech in Morocco; and Groningen in the Netherlands. The English side is being supported by £40,000 from the EU.

For loads more details on the project see the Quarantine website and sign up to the newsletter – click here

To get involved, email info@qtine.com

The Salford Star will also keep the community up to date with any events happening in the HoUSe.

* For a full background on the Springfield Lane Urban Splash Development see previous Salford Star articles...

Urban Splash Avoids Over £600,000 in Planning Fees – click here

As Urban Splash Avoids More Planning Fees, Councillors Told To 'Shut Up' – click here

Urban Splash 'Affordable Houses' To Cost Up To £335,000 – click here

For a background on the Springfield Lane site and its beach and previous supermarket application see previous Salford Star articles...

The Golden Sands of Salford Award – click here

Get Away From It All At The Salford Beach – click here

See also the Costa Del Salford community film spoof of the Urban Splash beach, shot on early mobile phones almost ten years ago – click here

For an interview with John Cooper Clarke on Beasley Boulevard see Salford Star article from print issue 2 – click here

Brian F KIRKHAM wrote
at 18:07:11 on 10 November 2018
Hi folks. Inky here....local poets occupying millionaire blocks of flats....you cannot make this up.., of course if mr bloxham could have been bothered to do his research, he’d find an old pal of the star (Yours truly) has had some of his work published, both on line and in print...and whatsmore so long as you don’t nick his best stuff you could have used it without lining anyone else’s pockets....currently residing at inkdrops.blog ...feel free to take a look....if you want to use anything ...I’ll accept a cheque to BASIC on eccles new road...your donation.
Dave wrote
at 11:47:25 on 19 October 2018
organising and curating rich gregory Couple of thing. Just because this house costs a lot of money, and whilst I agree it looks to be built to a better standard than all of the rest of the private and housing provider houses, I would not describe it as luxurious,like the Stars editor does. To me, it just looks like the way they build ordinary houses in places like Germany Austria and Holland etc. All houses should be built to a decent standard like this. Point 2. This Richard Gregory who is organising and curating all this nonsense, can he tell us how much all this crap is costing and who is paying? I suspect European money from Brussels, but then a Brexiteer like me would say that would they not.
Rayofsunshine wrote
at 11:46:28 on 19 October 2018
Philip Giuseppe Rossi,in the past I've defended you against the Right! Now,you go crawling to Bob the regular. Have you no self respect - sipping with the Class Enemy?
Rayofsunshine wrote
at 11:46:19 on 19 October 2018
Bob,the regular,if the houses in Chimney Pot Park were ticketyboo,why weren't they able to be sold on?
Bob the regular wrote
at 15:33:22 on 18 October 2018
hello, is there anybody in there? just nod if you can hear me.Or are you all comfortably numb? The other day I asked if there was anyone who was affected by the Langworthy road clearances, who used to live there as it were to write in to give an impartial view of what the council did there,just so as to put ray right on a few of his biased misconceptions. There must be at least 2 or 3 such people who read the Star. Did you see that strong Labour rag the Mirror today, all about the cladding in Salford, they didn't ask Becky or Dennett for an interview though did they.
Bob the regular wrote
at 06:34:58 on 18 October 2018
Good to see him back,don't know what we would do without him.Like I said before, the best way of dealing with the upside down houses would have been to knock them down. I say that from a purely ecconomic point. The money spent on them, the grant money,could only be available for the refurb, which they were classed as. It made it more advantagous to keep them than knock them down and build new. about £60 grand per house grant money. A lot were unfit ,but only made unfit by the tennants certain housing associations put in them, who wrecked them.Housing associations had taken them on long leases from developers ,and as the area went down so did the standard of tennants. A lot of these houses were owned by good Salford people who owned them, and these houses were in good order. I know ,I worked on lots of them. as the area went down, the council did not care, as it meant they would buy the houses even cheaper. There was enough cash in the pot to compensate these people with new houses I mentioned the ones between Langworthy school and Sutton flats. Land registry records prove how much the iron chipmunk got for her house, perhaps her house was the only one that was not unfit. It was a lot more than others got, a lot. Let us please have some comment from people who lived there. Let them tell Ray the truth, not what his council and labour pals tell him.
Philip Giuseppe Rossi, The Broadwalk ... wrote
at 06:34:22 on 18 October 2018
Bob the Regular, as time goes on I agree with you more and more. And as I agree with you more and more you remind me of a Humphrey Bogart chatacter from a 1940s film. You're a good man, Bob and you talk a lot of sense. This Little Yezhov/Ray Sunshine clearly knows jack all and is just a Labour Mandarin. One of those toadying pseudo Socialists who always agrees with his Masters and does as he is told. Shame on him and more power to you. Long may you reign, Bob.
Bruno Gianelli wrote
at 16:37:56 on 17 October 2018
'The talk is in hushed tones, and there don't seem to be any proper Salford people here' Ah yes, because 'proper' Salford people are incapable of talking at a reasonable volume. God forbid anyone from Salford, y'knows does well for themselves and wants to buy a nice house in their home city. Classism in action.
Rayofsunshine wrote
at 13:10:34 on 17 October 2018
More deranged rantings from Bob the regular! What evidence have you got for your slanderous accusations? The fact about Chimney Pot Park was that the houses were no longer fit for families - therefore redeveĺopment took place!
Rayofsunshine wrote
at 10:25:32 on 17 October 2018
Dave,I'd advise you not to make allegations that you can't substantiate!
Bob the regular wrote
at 10:24:42 on 17 October 2018
Yes Dave ,more ammunition to fire at the council, the joke builders Merry and Dennett,labour in general and of course little yezhov,who we are told is Becky's little run around lapdog. I wonder what's happened to him the last few days, has his mistress confined him to his little kennel for writing to the star? He knows he is not allowed to do that. Well the story on Langworthy goes like this, (if memory serves me right). One morning, Hazel took her old friend from the Labour party, Mr Bloxham over to see what could be done with the streets behind the Langworthy. Mr Bloxham said he didn't think much could be done, but she begged him to have a good think which he did. A couple of days later he came back with his ideas, which we now see in the upside down houses. These houses were all bought in at knockdown prices and cpo. They were given, free, by the council, to Mr b's firm that did them up, in fact it was only the front walls that were left from the old houses. I think that was done so that huge grants could be given, in order to say they were modernising the houses. As we know, many working class families were moved out,including one guy I know who owned his own house,a strong labour man, who was told that he would be not allowed to move back, as the houses were for yuppies. Although I would have knocked them down and built small semis like the ones near Langworthy school,these upside down houses are not to the distaste of all, as it seems one of the iron chipmunks old political lapdogs,Cllr Hesling seems to have aquired one, if the members interests list can be trusted.I bet his old mistress is ever so pleased with her former hound sharing the same good taste in housing as her. Just Thinking, did she not get over £35 000 for her house round there when others got a tenth of that. I am sure there were old stories in the star about this that might do with a reprint.
Kevin wrote
at 12:53:06 on 16 October 2018
What a pretentious pile of nonsense. And no doubt this sponsorship is not only paying for this, but also to keep their own homes empty which could surely be used by homeless people whilst they(the 'artists') are not living there?
Andrew Haigh wrote
at 07:04:06 on 16 October 2018
I’m no fan but I know for a fact Mr Bloxham doesn’t live in Worsley and does live in one of his own developments - there’s plenty to have a go at without making stuff up. And ‘mundane splodge’? Dearie me.
Dave wrote
at 07:03:36 on 16 October 2018
This Mr Bloxham they are talking about. Is he the same one that was persuaded by Hazel Blears to save all the upside down houses near Chimney pot park by being given for nothing the houses, along with large grants? Is he also a big Labour party man? If he is that is sure to provoke a bit of a row with our two resident verbal pugalists Bob and Ray.
Joe O'Neill wrote
at 18:50:23 on 15 October 2018
Have I missed something? is it April 1st and I have got the wrong calendar out. The story borders sadly on farce what next.
ian c wrote
at 16:06:53 on 15 October 2018
I remember reading an interview several years ago with Tom Bloxham of Urban Splash, or as it's called in our house Mundane Splodge. He was asked why he lived in leafy Worsley and not one of his own developments. His answer "I live where my wife tells me to live"
Bob the regular wrote
at 16:06:34 on 15 October 2018
What next?Words fail me.
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