COMMENT | Objecting to Eastlands arena is like me objecting to Media City
I welcome anyone or any business that intends to better the city and invest in Manchester. Investment and healthy competition are fuel for growth.
A successful city is one that keeps moving and now and again makes a bold and dramatic move. Spinningfields was a bold and dramatic move. It moved the centre of gravity and in doing so opened huge opportunities for new areas, such as First Street, Greengate, Circle Square and our own St Johns. All of these places benefitted from a new role Manchester was able to take on, and ripped the shackles off an otherwise tired and restricted central business district.
[Allied London’s] Enterprise City and The Factory in St Johns will be another bold and dramatic lift for the city. The Factory will elevate Manchester into a cultural space beyond most of its European peers and Enterprise City will provide the most diverse media and technology cluster in the UK. In delivering these developments, we have brought more than £2.5bn of investment to this city and moved it up the charts. We are making the cake bigger, and have never looked left, right or behind.
The key now is to maintain and increase investment in Manchester. We will keep it going. [Developers] Renaker and Select will keep the amazing landmark homes projects coming and others will do their bit. But we will need brave economic driver projects to enable the city to continually lift the bar.
The development of Eastlands is a true economic driver. It will make a real social and economic impact to that area and right across the city. A new modern arena, attracting £350m of private investment, from a world-class operator, Oak View Group, can only be a positive for Manchester and the region.
Manchester is attracting this investment now because it is seen as a growing international city, and one that has a hot entertainment sector. Without the development and growth of Manchester International Airport, this project would be a non-starter. Without a buoyant, expanding, diverse and resilient city centre economy, this project would be a non-starter. Without the current swath of new homes, this project would be a non-starter.
The new arena will be opening just at the right time, as will The Factory, as Manchester bounces back [from the pandemic], and what a force these two places will be. I have seen how this city recovers not only from severe economic troughs but terrible atrocities since my involvement from 1995. Its recovery from Covid will be robust – of that I have no doubt – but not without bold moves and committed investors that believe in the city.
Those that don’t continue to invest and improve what they have will always get left behind in Manchester. The city has moved at a pace unprecedented in the UK but not always so compared to alpha and some other beta cities. Manchester needs to stay ahead, keep moving and provide its people with world-class facilities in every sector.
Manchester can have world-class commercial, retail, hospitality, entertainment, residential, social, education, health, medical, science, media, tech, places and environments, and the market must be allowed to operate to provide that.
Objecting to this development is like me objecting to Media City in Salford or the Innovation District. Not a chance. We need growth, and competition is fuel for growth.
Successful cities need choice, diversity, progress, but most of all employment. This project is a catalyst to employment and a catalyst to further investment. Let’s grow the cake. Competition never hurt anyone, but it sure drives performance, Manchester’s standing on the national and international stage, and in turn further investment.
Invest, invest, invest. I look forward to Manchester having a truly world-class arena and the supporting facilities.
Michael Ingall is chief executive of Allied London.