Gary Neville’s plans to transform Manchester have again been met with opposition after hundreds of residents objected to proposals by Manchester United’s “class of 92” to build a new sports university near Old Trafford stadium.
Neville unveiled the blueprint for University Academy 92, or UA92, in September with the aim of teaching students life skills as well as traditional courses.
The opening of the institution, which is backed by Lancaster University and Trafford council, was pplanned for September 2019, but the proposals appear to have run into difficulty. Hundreds of residents said they objected to the takeover of green belt land and the disruption to local wildlife.
It is not the first time that Neville, a former England footballer turned TV pundit, hotelier and property developer, has received criticism over his plans to transform Manchester.
He had to resubmit plans last summer to build a £200m complex of luxury apartments, hotels, offices and restaurants in the city centre after the scheme was described as a “planning disaster of a magnitude not seen in decades”.
Neville’s latest idea includes designs for three new turf football pitches, a cafe and a changing room on public land in Turn Moss he says is disused because it is prone to flooding.
Hundreds of people have joined a Facebook page opposed to the plans, managed by the local residents’ group Friends of Turn Moss. Nixon Tod, a spokesman for the group, said there was disquiet in the community over the proposals.
“One of our worries is there has been no attempt to really properly engage with local residents,” he told the Manchester Evening News. “It isn’t a nimby thing, it includes local footballers and professional dog walkers, as well as the general public, and worries about wildlife.
“Maybe what’s most worrying is that it’s green belt land that’s part of a flood plain. They should seriously pause this, stop and listen to everyone that uses the area. You could argue that the land will be brought back to use, but it used to be used and only fell out of use because the council didn’t maintain it.”
Neville said: “I’m passionate about collaborating with Trafford council to deliver excellent resources at Turn Moss that will be of great benefit for the local community. Salford City FC’s community team will engage with local people to get them enjoying playing football, along with other sports that can help improve their health and wellbeing.”