UK’s regions are entering a new cycle of urban regeneration, as they reinvent their cities to make them relevant in a world of global connectivity and rapid urban growth, writes Georgina Power of MIPIM.
The new role of cities in the UK is to set the vision and the strategy for the longer term. This is leading the way for a more people-centric approach to urban regeneration.
It’s all about quality of life for all; but quality of life needs long-term, sustainable economic growth, as reported in the Opportunity Knocks? report by think tank Centre for Cities.
Global platform for private partners
With stringent cuts to local government spending, cities and regions are having to think differently, and to think smart. As well as setting the vision and the strategy, the role of Mayoral offices has become one of providing core infrastructure funding to help open the door for investment and development partnerships.
Foreign direct investment in the UK is increasingly looking towards the regions, not just at London. This was reflected at MIPIM 2019, where exhibiting cities, regions and countries included Manchester, the West Midlands Combined Authority, Scotland (with its first ever pavilion), Nottingham and the West of England.
The UK Government chose MIPIM this year to announce £2.2bn of new investment opportunities, including a £1.19bn portfolio across locations in Wales. Also benefiting were Durham, Harrogate, Swindon, Bournemouth, North Essex, Oxford and Bicester – a nod to the fact that for growth to benefit all, investment needs to spread to the country’s smaller cities and towns as well to the big cities.
Collaboration between cities
In today’s interconnected, digitised world, the future is one of collaboration – including collaboration between cities.
An already successful model is the West Midlands Combined Authority, an alliance of the local authorities of Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull and Walsall.
The value of space between buildings
Whether individual cities or city alliances, new projects are being looked at with a new lens.
CBRE’s Our Cities campaign released last year showed that culture was one of three overarching components for a city to be resilient and effective. The other two were good governance and innovation, both technological innovation and innovative ideas.
Building on the sense of place – ID Manchester
Manchester’s innovation district, launched at MIPIM 2019, sits on a 10.5-hectare (26-acre) site in the city centre adjacent to the main railway station and the new HS2 station.
The University of Manchester is looking for a private partner to finance and deliver its strategy for the £1.5bn project that builds on the city’s reputation for innovation in science and technology.
The vision behind ID Manchester, on which CBRE is advising, is to create a neighbourhood ecosystem linked to the community by tracking people’s ‘journey’.
ID Manchester supports the live-work-play concept and provides a destination in its own right. On the housing side, ‘transitional’ living spaces are there to support the ‘traveller’, starting with co-living or micro-living.
The West Midlands unveiled £10bn of opportunities at MIPIM
In the West Midlands, Mayor Andrew Street unveiled £10bn of real estate and infrastructure development opportunities at MIPIM 2019. Of the nine projects, two focus on the two new HS2 stations in the region:
- Birmingham Curzon: a £1bn-plus mixed-use project on a 150Ha site at the new HS2 Curzon Street Station in the Eastside district. The station, designed by Grimshaw, is due to open in 2026
- UK Central Hub: a £2bn-plus mixed-use scheme on a 140Ha site at the HS2 Interchange at Solihull
CaMKOx – creating a new economic super corridor
The Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor is heralded by the National Infrastructure Commission as one of the UK’s biggest ever economic and property development schemes. The corridor focuses on a string of knowledge and life science hubs stretching from Cambridge to Oxford.
To fulfil its economic potential, CaMKOx needs around one million new homes up to 2050, says NIC, who launched a consultation into the preferred route for the central section of the new East-West Rail service connecting Cambridge with Oxford earlier this year.
For the moment though, some buttons are on pause as the country waits to see the outcome of Brexit.
- Georgina Power is MIPIM editor
The views in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Reed MIDEM.