Railing on and on
There’s been some top-notch drum-banging about rail investment by the North’s senior civic figures over the last few weeks, including a summit event and a sly suggestion from some bloke called Osborne that Theresa May should make it a big policy commitment at the party conference. Andy Burnham has been particularly prolific, with Liverpool metro mayor Steve Rotheram and Manchester leader Sir Richard Leese in support. Conspicuous by his absence has been Liverpool city mayor Joe Anderson. Must be getting shy.
Macc for good
With the Local Plan finally falling into place, it’s action stations across Cheshire East, with an outline application from council vehicle “Engine of the North” for 1,000 or so houses in the South Macclesfield Development Area. Accessible from key routes either side, it’s a logical extension and will account for a nice chunk of the housing CE needs to build. In nearby Congleton, plans to sell land to Scarborough were displayed, possibly with the hope everyone’s now bored and just wants some new shops and a tarted up market. The scheme’s been around forever.
More market moves in Urmston, where the McGoff Group, never slow on the uptake, have completed the deal that will allow it to develop three chunky houses and a food hall at Urmston Market. A few people seem to be of the eye-rolling “not everyone can do an Altrincham” school, but Urmston’s surely got enough about it to support a dozen decent food and drink operators, whatever some of the sniffier observers suggest. Nice things aren’t just for the Hale set.
Consultation has been the name of the game in Manchester this summer. Commercial Estates Group won widespread praise for early engagement on its deeply unpopular High Street holding, while Trilogy and Peterson listened to the punters and have removed a café from initial plans at Great Northern Square. St Michael’s has now held its second “Hodder era” public session, with cynics duly noting that the tower looks a good bit beefier than in the images floated in July. Not seen the term “lozenge -shaped” used so much in a long time though.
In one of the regional market’s worst kept secrets, the Government finally confirmed Liverpool’s India Buildings as the home of a superhub, housing HMRC and mandarins from various other departments in the Water Street pile. If one were to listen carefully, the sighs of relief from local agents at getting both the monster letting and the building’s subsequent sale to L&G by Shelborn over the line could be heard across the Irish Sea. Now it will be interesting to see what Shelborn can do at Exchange Flags.
I’ll tell you once, I’ll tell you firmly
BDP has again been drafted in as town centre masterplanner by Burnley Council, along with its partners UCLan and, err, Burnley FC – because frankly what team manager Sean Dyche doesn’t know about urban placemaking isn’t worth knowing. BDP also delivered a masterplan in 2005, which seemed to go OK, with some important areas boxed off – education, rail link, a bit of funky stuff in heritage areas. Getting the Curzon Street retail and leisure right, from which Henry Boot and Urban & Civic have previously walked, is the key.