Ian Dove QC and Celina Colquhoun secure a victory for Manchester City Council in the compulsory purchase of around 32.2 hectares of land for the purposes of facilitating Manchester City Football Club’s (MCFC) proposals for Manchester City Football Academy and associated community facilities in East Manchester.

In a report of 28th May 2012, Inspector Karen Baker recommended the City of Manchester (Corbett Street, Bradford) Compulsory Purchase Order 2011 be confirmed – The Sectretary of State agreed, confirming the Order in a letter dated 27th July 2012.

The Order Lands consist primarily of past industrial land, which, much like East Manchester as a whole, was once the heart that unpinned growth in Manchester but has been the subject of steady and unrelenting decline through the 20th century. The level of socio-economic deprivation caused Manchester City Council to consider the area a top priority in terms of concerted action. In 2011 the Eastlands Regeneration Framework was approved and aimed to transform the area into a district making a unique contribution to Manchester with high profile sports, entertainment, leisure and commercial uses.

MCFC, with the backing of the Council and New East Manchester Ltd (NEM), submitted a planning application, the proposal, including the football academy, a new sixth form institute and an institute of sports science and medicine, was granted permission on 23rd December 2011. The Order Lands were designated as the location of a new 7,000 capacity Arena, which will primarily house MCFC youth and women’s football but also be available to annual schools’ programmes and summer tournaments. The development will be split into private, semi-private and public areas to accommodate the varied functions.

Ian Dove QC showed there to be no financial impediments, physical nor legal factors which might prevent bringing the scheme forward.

The majority of the land on which the development is to take place was already owned by MCFC at the date of the Inquiry and a considerable part of the Order Lands has been unused for some time.

The environmental, economic and social benefits were made clear at the Inquiry. The scheme will introduce extensive areas of public realm and environmental infrastructure around the site, which will provide a visual and functional series of green corridors. The construction alone will provide 155 full time jobs including 80 apprenticeships; the development of MCFA will result in approximately 93 full time jobs and an additional 30 from supply chain and wages expenditure – representing an estimated additional £3.9m gross to the Greater Manchester economy. Additionally, a new sixth form college, swimming pool and leisure centre facilitates will encourage greater participation in academics and sport.

Policies within the City of Manchester’s UDP endeavour to ensure that regeneration programmes maintain and create sustainable communities and the improvement of range and quality of facilities, with a particular focus on East Manchester. The Inspector gave full weight to the policies and considered them met by the proposed development.

The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector’s conclusions that Ian Dove QC made a compelling case in the public interest – the way in which the land will be used supports the economic, environmental and social well being of the area – therefore the Order was confirmed.