Update on Hough End Project from BaseballSoftballUK

Thu 4 Nov 2021

In May of this year, Manchester City Council (MCC), with the support of BaseballSoftballUK (BSUK), launched a public consultation for the proposed development at Hough End Playing Fields in Manchester that would include the first dedicated baseball and softball fields in the region. This was the culmination of seven years of efforts by BSUK to create a bespoke baseball and softball facility in the north of England, and specifically to support the sizeable Manchester playing community.

As part of the consultation, members of the public were able to provide feedback on the entire project which, as well as a dual baseball/softball field and a standalone softball field, included 3G pitches for football and rugby, Gaelic football pitches, a redeveloped leisure centre with a viewing gallery, café and expanded gym. The construction firm ISG lodged the formal planning application on behalf of Manchester Council.

During the consultation period, MCC received an extremely high volume of feedback, both positive and negative. BSUK would like to thank all those who provided letters and statements of support regarding the project.

However, the consultation period saw a remarkably high number of objections raised by members of the local community over the impact of the site, specifically:

  • The addition of fencing around the site, limiting access and right of way.
  • An increased number of cars in the area, contributing to air quality and climate change.
  • The impact on local biodiversity and wildlife.
  • Loss of open space.

The application was accordingly withdrawn on 15 July 2021.

Following the consultation, and after several meetings with MCC, BaseballSoftballUK was informed that a revised Hough End plan would be presented to the public without the inclusion of baseball and softball fields, and with further modifications to the original the revised plan is due to be presented by MCC in November.

BaseballSoftballUK is disappointed with this decision but will continue to work with MCC and local stakeholders to find an alternative site that could support permanent baseball and softball fields. BSUK is committed to finding and developing viable, community-focused locations as baseball and softball fields for the more than 1,000 players in the Manchester community, and the wider region.

“While we are disappointed with this news, we acknowledge and appreciate Manchester City Council’s efforts to ensure baseball and softball have a place to call home in Greater Manchester and will continue to work with MCC to advance this project. As we said ten years ago when BSUK began the process of facility development in the UK, our goal remains to build and enhance baseball and softball facilities across the UK, making them capable of hosting local, regional, national and international baseball and softball competition and development activity. This, along with the newly launched Baseball Development Consultation, will lay the groundwork for future development of the sports,” said John Boyd, BaseballSoftballUK CEO.

“We will continue to development facilities across the UK, including and especially though the BSUK Facilities Fund, and anticipate progressing a new plan for baseball and softball in Greater Manchester in due course. We look forward to continuing our work to get more people playing our sports in more places across the United Kingdom,” added Boyd.

Manchester City Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods said, "As we work towards bringing forward a revised scheme for the redevelopment of the Hough End site, it has become clear that it is not possible to develop the facilities required for baseball and softball here.”

“We are fully committed to developing baseball and softball sports and finding an alternative site in south Manchester. We will continue to work closely with BSUK, local clubs, groups and residents to ensure that we find the right location to invest in facilities to ensure the sport has the potential to grow and increase participation.”

Akbar added, “Plans for developing baseball and softball are already underway as part of our emerging Playing Pitch and Outdoor Sport Strategy which will be adopted in Spring 2022 and will frame baseball and softball facility recommendations for action over the next five years."

Further information on the development of a baseball and softball facility for Manchester will be communicated in due course.

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