Woodbank Park Nursery FAQ

Jenny, Sue and Daniel have bene making sure the Town Hall consults residents on the site's future

Here is a list of frequently asked questions to the Lib Dem Focus team in Manor ward regarding the future of the nursery site in Woodbank Park.

What is being proposed for the nursery site in Woodbank Park?

A new community development on the site of the former Council run Woodbank Nursery, which will be a hub for different community groups focused on positive natural park activities to come together and will be run by a Community Interest Company.

This will include a new, small building which can host meetings or other functions of the community groups.

Included on the site will be a market garden, with food produce grown by the charity CASU.

Will residents be able to have our say on this?

Yes, the Council is directly consulting with residents about the proposals. 

The open day is 26th November and there will be a consultation where residents can say if they want the scheme to go ahead. 

Residents concerned about the scheme have been given space in the Council leaflet to explain their concerns before residents respond to the consultation.

Is the whole thing a ‘done deal’

No.  The only decision the Council has taken is in principle to set up the “Community Interest Company” (CIC) which will have the responsibility for proposing specific plans to residents and councillors. 

These plans will be put to residents as part of a consultation, and if the consultation is successful the CIC will look to get planning permission to take the plan forward.   If residents oppose the plan, the scheme will not go ahead, although the grant available will be lost and spent elsewhere.  There would be no funds for the redevelopment of the nursery site.

What is a CIC and who is in it?

A Community Interest Company (CIC) is a non-profit entity able to trade and/or raise funds as any other company.  

This has more flexibility than purely being owned by the Council and shares responsibility for management of the site with other organisations.

The CIC has been established with two partners so far: Stockport Council and The Cirtek Alcohol Service Users (CASU).  Residents will also be on the board of the CIC and the decision to allow any group to use the site will have to be unanimous – so if residents feel they are inappropriate they would have a veto. 

Who are CASU?

CASU is a charity, established in January 2006 and becoming a registered charity in 2008.  Their volunteers are former alcoholics looking to get back to a normal way of life.

The volunteers grow food produce to sell to local families.  The voluntary work helps build confidence for the volunteers, which helps many members go on to get back into paid work again, and at the same time provides a source of cheap fruit and vegetables to local communities.

Can’t the nursery site just be left as it is?

No, the empty buildings attract vandalism and theft of materials.  The fabric of the greenhouse-style building is near the end of its life and it needs to be demolished.

The existence of mains’ services and WC’s within the front part of the nursery provides the opportunity for a relatively cheap, small, community building, which is needed now the nursery is no longer open.

Where is the money coming from to build it?

The money will come from a budget used to improve mental health which, if not directed to Woodbank, would be spent elsewhere on a similar project.

Why have residents not been consulted before?

Manor’s Lib Dem team argued consistently that once a partner for the site’s future had been found then it should form a CIC with the Council and that CIC should consult Manor residents about any plans it had for the nursery site.

Now CASU have agreed to partner the Council in a CIC, together they can put specific plans to residents in a Formal Consultation as we requested.  This did not happen earlier simply because no formal plan was in place, and until CASU signed on the dotted line in helping form the CIC the future of the site was still uncertain.

Now a partner is in place, a specific plan is available, and Lib Dem councillors are making sure residents in Manor ward get a full say in those plans.

Did Lib Dem Councillors mention this in their issues of FOCUS?

Yes, two articles in recent Focus referred to the future of the site.  The only reason CASU were not mentioned specifically was because the charity had not yet signed on formally to be part of the future of the site. 

Once CASU’s involvement was confirmed, Councillor Sue Derbyshire wrote personally to residents about the site and invited them to a public meeting she arranged at Woodbank Community Centre. 

The Council are now preparing their formal consultation of residents. 

Could local people use the site to ‘grown their own’?

Yes, a large part of the site could be a community growing area.  If you think this is a good idea, make sure you say so in the consultation or let one of your Lib Dem Councillors know! 

Why here, why not somewhere else in Stockport?

Having the development at Woodbank takes advantage of an opportunity to resolve the issue of the nursery site, which if left alone could attract vandals to the park, but also to support a very worthwhile cause that has benefitted lots of people already here in Stockport. 

It also makes sure that money being spent on community facilities gets spent in our area and not elsewhere. 

Have CASU Members worked anywhere else in Stockport?

Yes, CASU members worked on a similar project on an allotment in Hazel Grove. 

The Chair and Secretary of the Torkington Allotments told the local FOCUS team that users described CASU members as “very quiet” and “friendly.” 

There have been no complaints from the residents neighbouring the allotment, or from the elderly people’s accommodation next door. 

Can’t CASU stay there?

The drawback of the existing site in Torkington is that it is only one and a half allotments in size and it is difficult to get to for CASU members who live in central Stockport and do not drive.

The site of the former horticultural nursery at Woodbank could be ideal for the market garden idea CASU want to develop, and allowing the market garden to take place would bring the benefits of its existence to our area: the new community building, and a base for our local community groups. 

What guarantees do we have that CASU volunteers are teetotal?

Volunteers considered suitable to work at the market garden site have to have been teetotal for at least a year. 

What if a volunteer relapses and starts drinking again?

If there is reason to believe someone is about to relapse or if they appear to have been drinking, they would be taken away from the Woodbank site and helped to get back on track elsewhere. 

Alcohol is forbidden from the site and a breathalyser is used to enforce this rule. 

Why are members of CASU on site already?

The Council needed a presence on the site to deter vandalism after the closure of the old nursery.  CASU offered to maintain the site while a decision was made about its future, and have been given a temporary lease to do this.

I have heard that drug users or ex-drug users might be allowed on site?

No.  This is only true if you classify alcohol as a “drug.”  None of the CASU members are users of illegal drugs.

If the project and building does not go ahead, will this affect local activities organised by the Friends’ of Woodbank and Vernon Parks?

Almost certainly.  It would be difficult, and perhaps impossible, to run the popular annual animal event because shelter, power and water supplies are needed to host this. 

The ‘Friends’ group also want to provide educational visits for local schoolchildren in the park.  This is something we really encourage, but it will need a base with a meeting room and toilet facilities. 

A small building on site will also help with organising local events such as “Stockport Remembers,” the superb event hosted in the park recently to dedicate the fantastic memorial to animals killed in warfare. 

Can’t we just have the building and community allotments without the CASU market garden?

Asking the Stockport taxpayer to fund this building on its own and in the present economic climate might mean the project would have to take a low priority for the time being. 

But working in partnership with CASU means that the project can access funding streams for mental health support projects.  This means we can work in partnership to get a good deal for Manor residents. 

What do the political parties at the Town Hall think about this?

Liberal Democrat councillors have been fighting for a suitable replacement for the old nursery site for some time. 

We believe this development brings real benefits to this area and especially to the community groups that do so much good work locally but, at present, have too few places to consider a suitable base. 

Labour Councillors blocked the decision to start the CIC process in September, but we encourage Labour to act positively on behalf of the park and the nursery site and to have their say in the consultation.

We are not aware that the Conservatives have expressed any view on the proposals.

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