From the mid-1800s to mid-1900s Old Trafford was a densely-developed working class area full of factories and tightly-packed residential areas of Victorian housing, shops and associated local services. The adjacent Trafford Park Industrial Estate – the world’s first and largest purpose-built industrial estate – plus Manchester Docks and the Port of Salford provided thousands of jobs. Local manufacturers included famous companies such as Vimto and Duerr’s.
Slum clearances after the Second World War saw extensive redevelopment of the area in the 1960s, with high-rises and block & slab maisonettes, followed in the 1980s by Radburn-style social housing estates. As a result the proportion of social housing in the Trafford municipality is far higher than average (60%, compared to 28% average), and in fact was concentrated in key areas which were almost 100% social housing. Once socio-economically a mono-form area (white working class), it is now very cosmopolitan, with almost 50% BME communities across 8 distinct neighbourhoods within Old Trafford. The area is relatively impoverished, but has a largely stable community that has avoided many of the problems that historically affected the neighbouring areas of Hulme and Moss Side. That said, the piecemeal redevelopment of the area from 1960 to the 1990s has left a legacy of a poor physical structure, poor legibility & permeability and little cohesion, and very poor provision of essential community facilities.
The masterplan was drawn up through a series of hands-on community workshops and design charrettes. A key element of the Masterplan was to consider the future of 9 tower blocks – one of the area’s few visual landmarks. It concluded that the 4 towers should be demolished but the remaining 5 towers be retained and refurbished. The 386 social housing units demolished were to be replaced on a like-for-like basis, but spread across the area in smaller discrete developments to avoid re-creating a concentration in one area. 1,358 new housing units were created, with improvements in land use and density of development leading to an overall gain of 972 housing units. 60% of the new housing were single-family homes, and 67% was social housing.
To date over 500 of the new homes proposed in the Masterplan have been built, helping to repair the urban fabric of the area. The 4 ‘Bird Block’ towerblocks have been demolished, and the 5 retained completely transformed by refurbishment & renovation. A new mixed-use development (‘Limelight’) containing assisted-living housing, a community centre, a health centre, a nursery and general provision housing opened in 2017. A new Church and Refectory has also opened. Hard & soft landscaping, lighting and wayfinding has been transformed in several parts of the area.