Transport troubles, investment opportunities worth billions, and the long-discussed Greater Manchester Spatial Framework were all on the agenda at a packed Place North West event focussed on development in Greater Manchester.
More than 300 people attended the event at Manchester’s Science & Industry Museum, where opportunities across all 10 of the region’s boroughs were outlined by senior figures across politics, development, and the built environment.
See below for gallery and slides
Speakers included Cllr Linda Thomas, leader of Bolton Council; Stephen Wild, managing director of MediaCityUK; Richard Roe, director of place at Trafford Council; Jessica Bowles, director at Bruntwood; Phil Mayall, regional development director at Muse; Beckie Joyce, project director at Capita Real Estate; Ernst ter Horst, associate at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios; Max Farrell of Farrells; Tony Skipper, partner at 5plus Architects; John Searle, director of economy at Rochdale Council; and Jon Moister, executive director at Curtins. The event was chaired by Place North West editor Jessica Middleton-Pugh.
The event was sponsored by Curtins, Kingsley, Morgan Sindall, Pegasus Group, and Transport for the North.
Greater Manchester masterplans
Ernst ter Horst of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios kicked off proceedings with an overview of the 120-acre Trafford Civic Quarter masterplan, which will transform a swathe of land around Old Trafford.
- The Civic Quarter proposals are designed to link Manchester city centre with Trafford, the cricket and football grounds, and MediaCity
- ter Horst said the area was “neglected and haphazard” having been “developed in an uncoordinated way”, but there was “huge potential” with the Civic Quarter having “all the ingredients you want to see in a regeneration area”
- FCB’s proposals, while still at an early stage, would look to build on the historical legacy of the area, he said, with references to Trafford’s former botanical gardens and its jubilee exhibition, both from the Victorian era
- This could include heavy investment in public realm to create a processional route from Old Trafford tram stop, past Lancashire County Cricket Ground, through to Old Trafford football stadium, as well as a tree-lined route along Talbot Road, while reducing traffic and making the area more pedestrian-friendly
- Around 60% of the site area is currently covered with surface parking, he added, and while nearly three million people visit the area each year, there was little food and beverage provision or reasons to keep visitors there – this will be one of the main focusses of the masterplan
Max Farrell, partner at Farrells, followed with a presentation giving insight into the masterplanner’s proposals for the £1bn Northern Gateway, a strategic framework being brought forward by developer Far East Consortium and Manchester City Council
- The Northern Gateway, which stretches from Victoria Station to Queen’s Park, is “very much based around public realm and green infrastructure,” he said, with a focus on delivering a river valley park
- “The river is an undervalued asset with tremendous untapped potential,” said Farrell, who added the area of the Northern Gateway was “currently a part of the city with a loose urban grain that’s severely under-used”
- Key to the proposals is a reinvention of the Rochdale Road corridor, which Farrell said would be transformed into “an urban avenue with active frontages, punctuated by gateways with clear connections to the Irk valley”
- Responding to a question from the audience, Farrell said the developers would be looking at off-site manufacturing to “enable us to deliver [homes] quickly with a very high level of quality,” with the partners aiming to “use those new methods of construction to create value” as the area evolves
- Other potential developments include a “Brewery Quarter” focussed around new and existing business near the Red Bank viaduct, and a new tram stop at Vauxhall Gardens to act as a refreshed district centre for the area
A presentation from Tony Skipper, partner at 5plus Architects, then followed where Salford’s £800m Crescent masterplan was showcased.
- The site approaches 250 acres in size and is an £800m opportunity, said Skipper; there are 225 existing buildings within the masterplan’s boundary and the potential for more than 300 more, including 2,500 residential units, 1.4m sq ft of incubator and industry floorspace, and 2m sq ft of public realm
- The area currently undervalued its heritage assets, he argued, with the masterplan looking to make the most of existing buildings. The neighbourhoods will have a different feel, with low-density, family-friendly areas planned at Adelphi, with higher-rise and denser residential at the Crescent
- Salford University sits at the heart of the masterplan and will see £300m of capital investment in the next 10 years; elsewhere, a health village focussed on health tech, nursing and sports science research is also set to be developed
- There are five key lots in the masterplan, and three of these – Adelphi, the Crescent, and an industrial and employment-focussed site to the north are set to come to the market in November
- Salford Council will then select a development partner to come forward with further ideas and responses to the masterplan vision
Places to watch
A panel discussion then followed, featuring Phil Mayall of Muse; Bruntwood’s Jessica Bowles; Jon Moister of Curtins; and Stephen Wild of MediaCityUK.
- Wild said MediaCityUK had now “matured” as a commercial location with around 275 companies based at the site, creating “a critical mass” to allow developer Peel to move to the next stage
- He said office tenants were now looking to more mixed-use buildings with amenity space to make buildings and places more vibrant – combining different uses in office buildings will become increasingly important for developers at key sites in Greater Manchester
- Bowles spoke about Bruntwood’s developments around the University of Manchester, including CityLabs. She argued developers and councils should be capturing R&D expertise from higher education locally, rather than this being commercialised elsewhere
- “Universities need to focus on their connection with industry, and we [developers] need to be proving space for the follow-on businesses and start-ups which will come out of that,” she said
- Mayall argued it would be difficult to deliver major mixed-use town-centre developments across Greater Manchester without the support of the public sector to de-risk sites
- “Local authorities have been taking the lead and telling us what they really want from their town centres – we’ve come in to situations that are already starting to evolve”, he said
- Responding to a question from the audience on green infrastructure in Greater Manchester, Moister said it had often been “a poor relation” in comparison to cities including London, but developers needed to realise it can “create value for different places and developments”
- Asked to pick one ‘place to watch’ in Greater Manchester over the next 12 months, Mayall chose Bolton; Moister chose Trafford; Wild picked Salford, Trafford, and the Western Gateway; while Bowles named the former North Campus/UMIST site in central Manchester
£27bn for transport
Following a networking break, there was a presentation from Jonathan Spruce, interim strategy director at Transport for the North, who outlined the transport body’s proposals for the region and the responses from its consultation events held throughout the year.
- He said there had been largely positive feedback from the public on TfN’s long-term strategic plan, which will ask Government for an additional £21bn to £27bn of funding to deliver transport schemes across the region
- Around 88% of consultees supported TfN’s vision for the North, with the final 30-year programme to be launched by the transport body in early 2019
- By the end of this year, a business case will be submitted to Government for Northern Powerhouse Rail, and TfN is eyeing a 2024/25 start date for construction subject to funding and approval
- Nearly four-fifths of respondents to TfN’s consultation agreed with the emerging vision for Northern Powerhouse Rail, designed to link Liverpool to Hull and beyond via all of the North’s main transport hubs
- He argued the rail chaos over the summer “proved planning things in isolation didn’t work”; this, he said, emphasised the need for NPR to be planned as a long-term strategy
Spruce then joined a panel alongside John Searle of Rochdale Council; Beckie Joyce of Capita; Richard Roe of Trafford Council; and Linda Thomas from Bolton Council.
- Thomas said Bolton’s £1bn masterplan was focussed on “moving away from the image of ‘dirty old mills’”, with the council looking to redevelop the town centre into a mixed-use area featuring around 30% retail – the rest will be residential, commercial, leisure, and a hotel
- She also explained the council’s decision to purchase the Crompton Place Shopping Centre: “We were very conscious it wasn’t up to scratch, but we didn’t want a developer to come along and say: ‘this is what we want to do’, we wanted to be part of the discussion”
- Searle said Rochdale Council was “looking at green belt release very closely” as the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework continues to be drawn up: “We still have a very high growth ambition with more aspirational homes in our borough, and with that, we need to consider green belt sites alongside brownfield”
- Joyce said there had been an increasing shift towards councils “taking control and getting a grip on their own town centres” with “deals not being done in London headquarters but in council offices”, which would help local authorities form a “clear vision” for what they want to see on their home turf
- Roe said that while there had been changes at the top of Trafford Council – including a change of administration from Conservative to Labour – what the council wanted to achieve hadn’t changed
- This includes the Stretford Masterplan, where the “inward looking and dated” Stretford Mall was being comprehensively overhauled, while Altrincham “remains a priority” for Trafford with the redevelopment of the Grafton Centre
- Responding to a question on the delays to HS2’s hybrid bill, Spruce said much of this was down to “getting Piccadilly right”: “We don’t want to compromise on our vision for the area, and it would be madness to go with HS2’s current suggestion, which is for a station that doesn’t work in the context of wider regeneration”
Finally, there was consensus from the panel that each of Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs did not need to compete – the variety of the different areas would help to attract different types of investment.
Place North West‘s next event in our development series will be focussed on Merseyside and will take place on 15 November at the Hilton in Liverpool city centre. Tickets can be booked here.
The presentations from the day can be found here:
Click on any image to launch gallery