Burnham’s burning bike ambition
Why is Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham going so big on cycling infrastructure, with a further £137m pledged this month? Well, every politician desires a positive legacy, and it’s pretty clear that even if all goes smoothly with the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework – already given a boot in the groin by central Government withdrawing a £68m brownfield funding offer this month – housing will take too long to deliver. Compared to European counterparts, all UK regional cities have pathetic public transport and cycling infrastructure, so becoming the guy who puts Manchester on the right track seems to make sense. Whether it will be enough, as punters continue to rage about expensive buses and trains and endless roadworks, is a moot point.
The numbers game
Another GMSF headache is coming from Trafford, the most politically up-for-grabs of the ten boroughs. Although Tory pressure to pull the council’s support of GMSF has been quelled, a Green motion to scale back Trafford’s housing allocation won through. March also saw Warrington, now consulting on its Local Plan, cut back its targets from 1,113 completions per year to 945, while the good burghers of Middlewich voted against their neighbourhood plan, by just 22 votes out of more than 2,000 – a pain, to put it mildly, for Cheshire East. Are these numbers being chipped away at cases of pre-May electioneering, local pols trying to take advantage of a lack of attention from Brexit-swamped Whitehall, or just what tends to happen in well-off areas all the time?
Station to station
Of all the grand ambitions aired at MIPIM, one of the most interesting was Liverpool’s setting up of a commission to build a new railway station for HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail. There is huge scepticism around this, because it’s a £6bn job and who gets that kind of Government largesse, apart from Crossrail? However, some interesting points have come up location-wise, most intriguingly the possibility of a decent southern link to Liverpool’s airport, throwing up the potential of linking Liverpool and Manchester’s airports – which in international accessibility terms would massively tilt the balance of Northern power firmly towards the North West.
Just not cricket
Can’t keep a borough out of the news sometimes. Accrue Capital’s plans for 433 apartments on the old B&Q site next to the cricketing Old Trafford were refused in line with recommendation, after residents along with Bruntwood and Lancashire CCC objected, the latter seemingly miffed that those with apartments 13 floors up would get free views of their shambolic batting. The risk of over-shadowing is fair enough really, while Bruntwood have a position to defend with UA92. It was mentioned at committee that the council has looked to buy the site, so who knows what talks are going on behind the scenes. A sidenote perhaps, but as with the rather lightweight images of Chester Raceourse’s plans – also knocked back this month – people might have been more swayed had the visuals sold the project better.
Bolton means business
Where does one start? BCEGI, who seem to have been lined up on Crompton Place since Paul Weller was in The Jam, are now officially on board for the Bolton retail pitch’s redevelopment. Midia is working with BCEGI, as well as progesssing a 20-storey tower, a car park and offices by itself. Muse is on with 350 homes and 130,000 sq ft of offices at Church Wharf, and Placefirst is building a mixed-use scheme on the Central Way car park. Why all this now? Is there a feeling there’s a chance for one of the GM towns to step up as the next alternative to overheated central Manchester/Salford? Stockport is also aggressive right now, and has the advantage of the South Manchester hinterland, but Cheshire types remain sniffy about the town. If it can become the undoubted main centre for the GM northern boroughs, Bolton’s big spending may pay off.
Right, said Fred
Logik, the Andrew Flintoff-backed developer, has returned with a reworked proposal for Arundel Street in Manchester, having had a 35-storey tower refused in October 2018. The new scheme is lower, but altogether chunkier, with the size only being reduced by 31 apartments from the original 386, and the tallest part standing at 23 storeys. Vocal opposition had come from Britannia Basin Community Forum, who have now been brought into the tent by architect SimpsonHaugh, so at least we should find out if committee were going off community feeling, whether they hated the height, or just think there’s too much being forced into the site.