Manchester – the quarter city

With the news that Allied London has been given the go-ahead to start the first phase of its St John’s Quarter development, Manchester looks set to gain yet another ‘quarter’ in its remarkable growth story.

The development will be situated at the home of the former ITV studios, in Manchester’s city centre and is billed to be: “Manchester’s new neighbourhood for culture, enterprise and living.”

Allied London’s Chief Executive, Michael Ingall, has hailed the plans, citing Manchester’s reputation for excellence in enterprise, arts and culture, and saying the proposals will provide the platform for further “enterprise and activity.” The first phase of the proposal will bring the development of an event hotel, restaurants, bars, a rooftop pool, and other entertainment complexes such as a cinema and broadcast studios.

This news came straight after the announcement that property giant, The Peterson Group, is seeking to redevelop the Great Northern Warehouse into another quarter, filled with apartments, restaurants, offices and other retail and leisure facilities. The development is estimated to cost around £300m and is being pitched to be a similar style to the trendy ‘Soho Quarter’ in New York City.

There is a clear willingness to develop these so-called ‘quarters’ in Manchester. Like the hipster communities of New York and the assorted arrondissements of Paris, areas such as Spinningfields,  the Northern Quarter, the Green Quarter, and St Michaels Quarter are becoming distinct, sustainable areas that can provide a mix of work, living and social arrangements for its inhabitants.

This is an innovative approach to inner-city development and could address many issues that relate to both spatial planning and more social-related issues such as community wellness. By providing employment provision amongst retail, leisure and residential properties, issues surrounding work-life balance become less problematic, making these areas (or ‘quarters’) far more attractive to potential residents and employers alike.

Whether this theme continues across Manchester remains to be seen. However, what is more interesting is whether this approach to inner-city development is adopted up by other Core Cities, resulting in it becoming an unintended signature of Northern Powerhouse development.

Your Comments

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There needs to be designated non-nightlife areas for people who want to live in the centre.

By P

You know culture in Manchester… well until The Factory is built, is there really any more stuff than there was 5 years ago? Media (incl. this website) seem to think there’s a cultural boom going on in Manchester… not really sure what its supposed to consist of (new bars opening every week?). Please help

By James

The Green Quarter is a posh council estate,surrounded by boards. Spinningfields is fine if you are a Stepford wife,or live in Cheshire,which amounts to the same thing.The Northern Quarter is the best one,but is forgetting that less is more.The Gay village is now hideous and should be renamed ‘Hen party hell’. None of these ‘Quarters’ are anything to write home about. The plans for the Northern warehouse are long overdue. That building could be amazing and currently looks like a shopping centre in Harlow New Town. Chapel street is perfect for an imaginative quirky quarter and could become a proper community with a bit of intelligent planning.It has great architecture,character and space to build proper homes for families.

By Elephant

Depends what you mean by culture, there are more theatre groups than ever before and live music is strong right now. Certainly as the city’s economy continues to improve there are fewer spaces in the centre to use for galleries and so on which is why there is activity in Central Salford and spaces like Wellington House and the Hope Mill Theatre in Ancoats. Obviously you are aware of HOME and the Whitworth etc but personally I don’t see the point in publicly funded projects that cost so much and are used by so few, as we get around the North.

By York Street

Spinningfields is very successful and people like it, Northern Quarter too and the Gay Village is still important to many gay people who travel a long way to use it.

By York Street

Agree that Chapel Street is the most promising for this idea to develop new neighborhoods – it has kept its character – but calling them all quarters!. Spinningfields is quite artificial. The Northern Quarter is coming on nicely but the name is ridiculous – just because it’s to the north of the centre. Surely ‘quarter’ should come from a real identity. Why would Manchester copy Paris? They have very little in common.

By Salford Lad

In response to Salford lad,I partly agree with your comments.The Northern Quarter is in desperate in need of something other than Boozers and restaurants. A market would give it a better feel. I wish there were also a few practical shops,which sell food,the new Butchers is a start,but a nice Bakery,selling bread and a few less pretentious gimmicky shops,selling beakers with Hilda Ogden on them.. To create a community,you need everything and Manchester is not good a creating self sufficient central communities.

By Elephant