Home

Making the most of your assets…

Manchester’s city centre has undergone a renaissance over the last decade, and now compares well with many European cities. Bright yellow trams connect with the main suburbs, and out to Oldham and Rochdale (a project that was being considered in 2003/4 when URBED produced its Oldham Beyond vision). As a result there is now a much wider choice of places to live, including the exciting redevelopment at New Islington that you see on arriving into Manchester Piccadilly, close to the striking Commonwealth Stadium (since renamed the Etihad Stadium and home to Manchester City whose rise to prominence has matched that of its host city). The redevelopment of the ugly Arndale Centre that took place following the IRA bomb in 1996 is a big draw, with pedestrianized streets that make London’s Oxford Street look shabby. While the River Irwell does not quite compare with the Thames, Calatrava’s great bridge, and hotels like the Lowry add a lot to the city’s stylish image. Further on, Spinningfields provides a memorable new commercial and residential quarter, with a stunning Court complex to crown it all. A lot has happened since the early days when we were set up office in Hulme. Much of the credit must go to the City’s sustained leadership, and the way adjoining authorities have worked together in attracting investment. The latest success is the £61 million Graphene Institute being developed at Manchester University, and the City is set on becoming the main Technology Hub outside London.

But there is another side to the story. I visited URBED’s Manchester office at a time when housing developments in the city have virtually halted and parts of the city centre are blighted by abandoned hulk of half built apartment schemes. Urban Splash who were a driving force, are struggling under their debts. However attention is turning to how to retrofit the existing housing stock (and work with Manchester’s Carbon Coop to use the Green Deal’s early funds is paying off in a big way).  It struck me that, as in the 70s when I set URBED up, the challenge now is still to make the most of what we have. Except this time instead of industrial buildings, it is the huge stock of inter-war semis and Victorian terraces in the suburbs and inner city that are crying out for attention, along with finding appropriate roles for failing shopping centres.

Stylish new trams connect the suburbs

Stylish new trams connect the suburbs

Signs point where to eat out

Signs point where to eat out

Calatravas bridge links Manchester and Salford

Calatravas bridge links Manchester and Salford

Dressed for the cold

Dressed for the cold

High density new housing

High density new housing

Iconic Crown Courts

Iconic Crown Courts

Old Streets have been revitalized

Old Streets have been revitalized

Pedestrianized King Street has fine shops

Pedestrianized King Street has fine shops

Grand old buildings

Grand old buildings

New office blocks gleam

New office blocks gleam

An Arcade links through

An Arcade links through

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s