GARY ON AT YOUR CONVENIENCE
In subtext 179, we reported on the somewhat embarrassing lack of solid information on simple things like UA92’s disability provision, placements, and whether or not they’ll be taking international students. Thankfully, a public consultation with Stretford community stakeholders was held last Monday (18th June), and there were high hopes that the community liaison representative dispatched by the council to answer to concerned residents would be able to bring some much needed clarity.
UA92 is a done deal that was signed off by Trafford’s Conservative administration before the Tories were replaced by Labour and the Liberal Democrats. While the conversion of the Turn Moss green space into a training facility for UA92 students was immediately torpedoed, it remains to be seen how readily the new administration will nod through Gary’s plans. The only accepted planning application thus far is to convert the old Kellogg’s building into educational and office space, and two more ‘masterplans’ – one for Stretford town centre and one for the Trafford ‘civic quarter’ – are to be put forward for consultation in the coming months. Furthermore, plans to hand Stretford’s leisure centre over to Gary have been mooted.
So, we know what isn’t happening, and what is definitely probably going to hopefully happen. At present, there is no information on what sites, apart from the old Kellogg’s building, are in place. Stretford residents were sympathetic to the human shield that the council had dispatched to the meeting, who was clearly poorly briefed, working on little information, and was not joined and supported by any figures with direct involvement in the planning and implementation of UA92. To surmise – UA92 has teaching and office space confirmed, partnerships with Microsoft and Lancashire Cricket Club and… that’s it. We wonder if things are going to be any clearer come the UA92 open day in July. subtext understands that two Lancaster student staff are being deployed as ambassadors to answer questions. Have they been warned, in the two non-compulsory training sessions, that many of the attendees are likely to be concerned Stretford residents masquerading as students and parents with a wad of questions that thus far haven’t been adequately answered either by council liaison officers or full time staff at the university?
The fact that, as reported in subtext 171, no-one has been willing to release the market research that lead everyone to decide that UA92 was a cracking idea is important to remember. If no-one wants to come to the party, there is the chance that UA92 might end up as a white elephant. And yet, they have so little to offer right now, be it provision, accommodation, or any of the superb facilities that are promised in the hype videos, that it’s hard to see why anyone WOULD come to UA92.
Only four months until applications open!
The promotional video of what UA92’s ‘campus’ is going to look like (or to use the exact quote, ‘might’ look like) consists of shots of Manchester Piccadilly Station, the Manchester skyline and Old Trafford football ground, overlaid by an intense dubstep beat and meaningless slogans to make up for a lack of content. Oh, the camera also soars through a CGI rendition of an extremely red, cavernous building that looks like a cross between a 60s themed American diner and a missile launch facility. For those still wondering what UA92 is even going to offer, it’s better than nothing, and the start of the video reminds us to ‘speak to a member of the UA92 team for the latest information.’ Ahem. https://youtu.be/vhULu8sD1Is
We are also told that ‘designs continue to be developed and further details will be available in 2019.’
Only four months until applications open!
PLACES FOR PEOPLE
At a recent meeting of the Stretford & Urmston Constituency Labour Party, it was noted that the Labour administration has asked that the office space being sold off as accommodation for potential UA92 students be made viable as 1 or 2 bedroom flats for general use in case the Students Don’t Come. This could prove problematic: at the moment, building student accommodation is hugely attractive to developers because student houses don’t have to meet the same regulations as normal housing. Less red tape and fewer regulations, coupled with a potentially huge market, means more money in the pockets of the developers. This presents some interesting questions – will developers take the risk and refurbish the old office blocks to a minimum standard, confident that the Students Will Come? And if they don’t, will they even be able to convert the empty student housing into normal housing that satisfies the additional regulations, or will logistics, money, and disinclination leave more disused space in Manchester?
Only four months until [we get it – eds.]
SETTING THE BAR
As we’ve established, Gary is having difficulty finding buildings to house the millions of students and partners falling over themselves to work with him.
By a sheer stroke of luck, his ‘Polynesian cocktail bar,’ ‘Mahiki’, is to close after less than a year of trade. The Manchester branch of the London venue (a famous celebrity haunt which has even attracted royals), which charges a tenner for entry, £12 a cocktail, hosts parties for celebrities and whose opening night was attended by David Beckham, was promised by Gary to be ‘the opposite of pretentious.’ It was also the opposite of ‘good’, and attracted scathing reviews variously describing the venue as ‘tragic’, the staff as ‘rude’, and the experience the ‘worst night out in Manchester ever.’ Since Gary has already signed a 20-year lease on the building, there is no reason not to see if he can’t squeeze a couple of 3G pitches in there.