PLANS for a new luxury waterside neighbourhood in Salford Quays – with floating gardens and ‘open-air harbour baths’ – could be signed off next week.

But concerns have been raised that the upmarket new district is ‘gentrifying’ Salford.

Council officers are recommending that the new neighbourhood – which would see 1,500 swanky apartments built across a series of buildings, the tallest one reaching 48 storeys – is approved.

The plans for the new district – dubbed ‘Cotton Quay’ – also include space for shops and two hotels, one of which would sit at the end of the pier and which developers Royalton and Frogmore hope would become a ‘landmark waterfront hotel’.

They say their vision will transform the area, just west of the Salford Quays metrolink stop into a ‘vibrant new neighbourhood’. Currently, the space is taken up by two small commercial buildings and a car park, and developers say the space is underutilised.

But some residents say the plans represent the gentrification of Salford.

Comments included in the planning papers say: “The development is seen as gentrification that is amplifying existing social imbalances across the city and doesn’t address housing need, this will lead to wider social divisions within the city. 

“The only demographic being targeted are young professionals, there are no family homes and this results in a transient population which does not lead to long term sustainable communities. The proposed apartments are tiny.”

Others mention the lack of affordable housing included within the scheme.

In response, officers who recommend that the plans are approved, say that public realm and infrastructure improvements provided within the project are ‘significantly greater benefits provided to the local and wider community’ that ‘offset any lack of affordable housing provision’. 

The developer has said it will provide a financial contribution towards off-site affordable housing; however, it’s unclear how much this will be – although it is not the maximum amount requested by the council as the developer said it would be ‘unviable’.

As well as the homes, shops and hotels, the proposals also include plans for floating gardens, a climbing wall and bouldering area, harbour lido and a multi-storey car park with a rooftop play park.

But some residents fear that these perks could attract anti-social behaviour – while one dismissed the play park as a ‘gimmick’.

“The lido would be an unsightly ‘white elephant’ that will not be used and will blight the Quays. It will generate noise and be a honeypot for anti-social behaviour. The area is currently very peaceful but the noise will be unbearable for houses nearby from children swimming, including children from surrounding areas. The Play Park is a gimmick and will give rise to noise and anti-social behaviour,” planning papers note objectors as saying.

Other locals also lodged concerns about the impact the extra housing would have on the transport infrastructure in the area – saying that trams and buses to the Quays are packed at peak times and point out that Trafford Road is expected to undergo improvement works.

Members of the Salford Quays Community Forum also provided a submission, during which they called for more protection for Merchants Quay from the risks of noise and nuisance, that the lido be removed from the plans and that spending from section 106 money is done following consultation from the residents and businesses in the area.

Officers are backing the plans. They say that to remove the community facilities on the grounds that they attract more visitors would be ‘contrary’ to a primary function of this part of the city.

They also point to a letter from Salford Community Leisure which said the ‘plans are invaluable within the Salford Quays area’.

On transport, they say the capacity of the existing network has been assessed at six junctions and modelled by Transport for Greater Manchester.

If the plans are agreed in Thursday’s planning meeting, developers would also be required to pay £800,000 towards upgrading Salford Quays Metrolink stop and access to the platform, £350,000 to deliver improvements to the junction of Waterfront Quay and The Quays and £7,000 towards the introduction of a Traffic Regulation Order that provides a Residents only Parking scheme for Merchants Quay.