An Open Letter To Manchester Metropolitan University - Save Ryebank Fields!
Dear Vice Chancellor Malcolm Press, Head of Estates Mike Sheppard, The Board of Governors and all members of Manchester Metropolitan University Management,
Ryebank Fields is a well loved green space in Chorlton (at M21 9WW). Manchester Metropolitan were gifted this land by the Council over 40 years ago in order to be used as playing fields. After The University stopped using the fields, they have flourished as a rare wild space, developing important biodiversity including more than 1,400 trees and over 60 species of bird.
Manchester Metropolitan University intends to sell the land to private housing developers for a proposal of 120 properties. This would destroy the wildlife and remove this green space from the community. Not only that, but the trees and grasses actively trap carbon dioxide, and absorb rain water improving local air quality,reducing flood risk and protecting against climate change globally. Manchester severely lacks green space especially wild green space which is critically important to biodiversity.
Ryebank Fields is home to the Nico Ditch, an ancient Anglo-Saxon borderline. Manchester Metropolitan University is lucky to be the custodian of one of the few remaining sections. Selling this land to private developers would put the future of this historically important feature at risk.
Ryebank Fields has the potential to be an asset hugely valuable to our education with little or no cost to yourselves. The sale and destruction of the fields is equivalent to the sale and destruction of the resources of the art school.
The local community have been campaigning to save Ryebank Fields for years. The land has a rich history and holds the memories of a community. Children who grew up playing on the fields now have children of their own. These children should have the opportunity to grow and learn in nature and it should not be taken away from them. Forest schools have used the fields for hands on learning and the local school has used the fields for art workshops.
This is part of a larger problem of land privatisation. Over half of our public land has been privatised since 1980. As an institute of learning, MMU should lead the way against land privatisation and protect this land for the people of Chorlton and the student community.
Manchester Metropolitan has received awards for being the UKs greenest university, something the university publicises widely. However, if you are truly committed to the environment, you would not be actively destroying wild green space.
Chasing the income from the sale is part of a national problem of marketisation of education. Manchester Metropolitan is conducting itself like a private business rather than a public ‘charitable’ institution. You should use this decision as an opportunity to show that this university puts education, community and wellbeing first.
The fields should be kept under the stewardship of Manchester Met for the benefit of student's education and wellbeing. Having this space to direct students to through the wellbeing services would be hugely beneficial. The wildlife society, biology course, and biology and conservation course could do practical field studies and observations. The history department could study the Nico Ditch. Business School students and graduates could run pop-up businesses there. The art school could hold excursions for drawing and painting classes and land-based works.
The value of the fields to our education and our planet far outweighs the monetary gain from selling the fields. We urge you to listen to the voice of the student body and not sell Ryebank Fields to private developers but keep it as a wild green space.
People & Planet Society MMU
Marxist Society MMU
Jessica Peach, MMU Student, People & Planet society & society of landscape architecture
Nick Hallsworth, MMU Marxist Society
Josie Tothill, MMU Marxist Society
Hanna Mirza, YSJ Environmental Society
Julie Ryan, Local Resident to Ryebank Fields, Friends of Ryebank Fields
Dr Anna Fryer, Local Resident to Ryebank Fields
Sally Williams, Local Resident to Ryebank Fields
Ruth Conlock, Local Resident to Ryebank Fields
Neil Conlock, Local Resident to Ryebank Fields, Lancashire Wildlife Trust
Melanie Kettle, Local Resident to Ryebank Fields, Friends of Turn Moss
Steffeny Wright, I am a former MMU student and until recently lived nearby
Lily Kroese, Student of MMU
Rebecca McLean, Local Resident to Ryebank Fields
Karen Pertoldi, Local Resident to Ryebank Fields
George Long I grew up opposite fields, mother still lives in same house on Longford Road
Please add your name, if you study or work at MMU, if you are a local resident and any relevant, societies, courses or organisations:
Please add your email if you would like us to keep in touch with details of the campaign to save Ryebank Fields. (this will not be made public)
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