Manchester City Council is to conduct a “major review” into the Gay Village and its future, in response to controversy over publication of the Portland Street regeneration framework in 2017.
The review is described as a “listening exercise” and will involve consultation with local people, businesses and organisations.
The consultation will aim to find out what should be protected, how the local environment could be improved, and what opportunities there might be to enhance the area. The council has appointed socioeconomic consultancy Hatch Regeneris to conduct the consultation.
In an attempt to allay fears over future plans for the Gay Village, Manchester City Council stressed: “The review is not a development or regeneration plan for the area, and will not lead to a rebranding exercise or a formal strategy for the future of the Gay Village.”
The Portland Street Strategic Regeneration Framework, which was published in December 2017, caused uproar among the LGBTQ+ community and local stakeholders amid fears it would threaten the community. A petition against the framework was launched in response and garnered 2,000 signatures in the first 24 hours.
Despite anger towards the proposals, the framework was not pulled, although amendments were made. The masterplan centred around some specific development projects, including the development of the 329-bedroom Hotel Brooklyn which is in the process of being fitted out.
Hatch, which has its offices on Faulkner Street close to the Gay Village, has begun preliminary research, with the consultation set to go live in February and running into March.
Ricardo Gomez, director of Hatch, said: “We recognise how important the area is to the LGBTQ+ community, and to the part the neighbourhood has played in shaping Manchester’s modern identity. This is a listening exercise to make sure Manchester City Council has the furthest possible range of voices talking about the Gay Village.
“The wide range of voices who contribute to the study will provide really valuable insights to assist the Council and stakeholders as they think about the future of the Village.”
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The historical importance of the Gay Village for the city’s LGBTQ+ community cannot be underestimated. There is no question that the heritage of the neighbourhood – and its future – must be protected.
“We promised that we would undertake this review and it’s important that we do given the significance of the Gay Village to a huge amount of people. To be able to act as guardians, we need to speak to the people at the heart of the community and listen to their views.”