Red Bank Brewery Square Northern Gateway Fec Manchester City Council March 2020
Collyhurst is one of the areas being redeveloped under the Northern Gateway masterplan

‘Manctopia’ Ep 2: Anne brings nuance to development debate

Dan Whelan

The story of Anne Worthington finally provided some nuance in the second episode of the BBC Two series, as she battled to reconcile her admiration for Manchester’s regeneration with dismay at the propect of losing her home to redevelopment.

The first episode of Manctopia: Billion Pound Property Boom was criticised for oversimplifying the issues involved in property development for the sake of good television.

While the layman may watch the show and draw the conclusion that all developers are greedy, unscrupulous individuals and Manchester City Council gives them free rein, those within the industry are unlikely to be fooled by the BBC’s black and white approach to the city’s property boom, and Episode 2 thankfully starts to delve a little deeper. 

Worthington is an outspoken and likeable Collyhurst resident who stands to lose her home as part of the council and developer Far East Consortium’s Northern Gateway project. 

The Northern Gateway development zone is anticipated to deliver 15,000 homes over the next 30 years across 383 acres north of the city centre. 

One of the first phases – the construction of 330 new-build homes at Collyhurst village – is likely to see Worthington’s home demolished as part of the redevelopment, with a planning application for the project expected imminently. 

During last night’s episode, filmed in 2019, she said she felt trapped “in limbo”, uncertain of what the future held in store. 

While understandably distraught at the prospect of losing her home, Worthington sang the praises of those responsible for many aspects of Manchester’s regeneration. 

Indeed, Worthington was not nearly as anti-development as her friend Jackie, who described the gentrification of Miles Platting as “sickening”, or Jonathan Silver, a university researcher and campaigner seen leading a guided tour around Manchester under the auspices of pouring scorn on the results of foreign investment in the city. 

Towards the end of the episode, Worthington questioned Silver’s anti-development stance as the tour stopped in the vibrant Cutting Room Square in Ancoats, an area packed with flats, bars and restaurants. 

“People remember Ancoats with rose-tinted glasses. It was derelict and would have fallen down if hadn’t been redeveloped,” Worthington said. 

The interviewer challenged Worthington on why she was so supportive of the regeneration of Ancoats but not that of her own area – even though it was her own home at risk – to which she responded:  “But there was nothing there [in Ancoats] before – it was all car parks and rough ground.

“Here, they’re just replacing perfectly good housing. We’re not talking about 1970s slum clearance – these are good houses, there’s nothing wrong with them. To pull something down just to build a new version of it is ludicrous.”

Worthington provides the series with the nuance that had been lacking in the previous episode, positioning herself in the grey area between pro- and anti-development and showing that it is acceptable and understandable to hold both views. 

To be fair to the BBC, attempting to convey the nuances of a broad and convoluted issue like Manchester’s property market in one hour must be almost impossible – but the introduction of the series’ most colourful character so far certainly helped its cause. 

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For many of us, the true test of how inclusive the Manchester renaissance will be is how it handles the ‘ring of fire’ outside the core city. If we can’t find a place there for people regardless of income then that’s a moral failure.

By Rich X

A university lecturer you say? Pretty much says it all. Reads the Guardian? Check .Supported Corbyn? Check. Prefers the derelict homeless and neglected look that he thinks tells him its authentic working class ? Check . Was listened to by no one who matters? Check and mate!

By John

What stood out to me more was the couple from Glasgow. Oblivious to the better options around them, and likely to end up stuck in a tiny apartment.

I want to write to them and tell them about Liverpool`s Georgian Quarter. I could show them around Liverpool myself, taking them for a riverside walk, showing them riverside apartments with their many vistas. Not far from world class museums and art galleries.

As it stands they will now end up long term feeling trapped in a tiny 2 bed apartment with no scope for starting a family.

By Liverpool romance

Three comments in and there is already someone spouting nonsense about Liverpool. Classic.

I’m quite enjoying the programme and it’s mix of mancunian communist propaganda blended with old fashioned Thatcherism. Seriously though, we need to be weary of the amount of foreign investment or we’ll just end up like Australia i.e. basically an overseas Chinese state. Watch Youtuber SerpentZA to find out what I mean.

By Superhans

This series seems to have touched a nerve at PNW

By ST

The Glaswegians came across as an ambitious couple and very happy with their choice of Manchester. A city which can cater to their ambitious long term needs. Once they wish to start a family I’m sure they may well look to move to one of Manchester’s many affluent suburbs, with hills, parks, reservoirs and high performing schools & just a short tram ride to their well paid jobs.

By Anon

Haha what about Tim Heatley – he’s a pretty colourful character too….the new Tom Bloxham

By Mike Riddell

I was surprised that the Glaswegians thought that Manchester was rough, I’ve always been under the impression that Glasgow was the roughest city in the country!

By Aaron

Tim heatley programme. This guy likes being in front of the camera. As for the homeless, nobody wants them in the city centre next to all the expansive swanky apartment blocks.. At the end of the day, there should be no homeless around town. All the 1bed council properties around Hulme, Moss side, Oldham rd etc etc some are empty, put them in these properties, give them help, a social worker, help with getting back into society. Some have got problems with drugs drink etc. These people need help. It’s up to the councils to sort them out.

By Darren born bred.

Investment in the city is very good – IF the investment is in areas that are undeveloped or derelict. I felt as though this woman was being forced out by the council as she is not seen as a desirable money-bringing millennial. Homes like hers should be protected, whilst empty space like around NOMA should be redeveloped.

By AdoptedManc

Up to 107 comments on the 1st article. Must be a record .Touched a nerve indeed with some! It’s not all a Mickey take on Liverpool though there are some funny comments on there.

By Anonymous

That Rich x seems to be the question that the council is at last asking itself. The redrafted 10 yr Framework seems to be looking to address this a little better than it did. As the city centre expands out on all sides there needs to be that willingness to address more affordable housing further out .Part of that is the huge Northern gateway project but even that can only be part of the solution.

By Nve

I’m reserving judgement on the documentary until the end but I think it’s explaining more to the lay person as it progresses. Documentaries are made to show the public what they don’t know ie Salford is being gentrified in places, someone having her house taken off her is in favour of regeneration, property developers help homeless people, a food bank founder agrees that her essential service won’t work near existing homes etc etc. It’s quite clever in a way and it’s generally favourable for our industry and our city.

By Jane Shore

The Tim heatley show. He’s going to have his own programme shortly all about himself, oh wait that’s on Tuesday evening at 9pm on bbc.

By Darren born bred.

The central premise of he programme seems to be that development in the city centre is putting pressure on the housing market in areas around it. This cannot be true. Imagine how much more pressure those areas would be under if there wasn’t such a huge volume of additional housing supply being created in the City Centre…

By YIMBY

Anne Worthington has been the star of the show so far.

She is Manchester born and bread, a salt of the earth woman. Strong and confident, says it plain and simple – no pussyfooting around.

A sad indictment that very few true Mancunians actually live within walking distance of the city centre anymore. Like Anne, displaced in pursuit of a quick quid. But hey, “great for the city.”

By Cyril

@Aaron, It’s an interesting point you made about people from Glasgow thinking Manchester is rough. I think though that there is logic in it. Glasgow had a rough reputation, but the city centre was quite grand in comparison to Manchester’s. If you go to Glasgow today, while its city centre lacks the new developments, it holds a historic grandness that we still don’t have today. Wonderful old buildings, fascinating grid street, amazing parks in the central ring, spectacular museums and the West End is just breathtaking. Manchester until the developments began had quite a run down city centre and a huge amount of derelict land in and around town. These days it is quite a different place, full of optimism and modern architecture – a new sort of grandness that is quite new.

By Anonymous

I absolutely loved Anne Worthington in that episode. She was full of warmth and logic, intelligence, wisdom and strength. I also agree with her sentiments. While I like the idea of Collyhurst and Miles Platting being developed, I don’t see why it needs to happen at owners’ expense and compulsory purchase orders. Where the hell does this come from? Why is our council forcing this yet again onto our citizens, especially after their complete mess between the 60s and 70s? Surely it should be her choice. The redevelopment can occur around her and other owners homes perfectly well (there is also so much empty land there). People who want to sell, can sell and new homes being built where and when it needs to. If she wants to stay, she can stay and if she does and the houses around her are developed, her property’s value will just increase, benefitting her if she ever decides to sell. But there should be no reason at all to force her. Neighbourhoods can develop without the need to force owners to sell. The UK is the only developed country I have ever seen this happen in. Even in China if people don’t want to sell, they don’t have to.

The only reason I can accept compulsory purchase orders is in required infrastructure, i.e. when roads need widening, tramlines need expanding and even then it needs to be done right. I hope it worked out for her in the end.

By EOD

Are any of these penthouses affordable? I can’t afford one. I wish the world was like it was back in the 1970,s when we was all happy and there were no slums anywhere for as far as the eye could see. I should have become a millionaire then but y’know , I got a paper round instead. I,d put the homeless up meself but the back rooms full and every time I try to move the dog he growls at me.

By Darren bored of bread

I was up in 20 stories in Spinningfields at the weekend (taking photographs,,,I can’t afford the drinks!) there’s a better view of the skyline than in the Beetham and looking over to Deansgate square as the sun was going down and reflected in the buildings was quite spectacular. Will be even better when they finish the Elizabeth and Victoria towers ,another 52 or so stories and this makes quite a cluster.

By Nve