NW 2015: Second city success

Manchester's vibrant city centre is attracting a new generation of investors and developers in the residential market, with city fringe sites placed at a premium. The scale and ambition of the projects that we are working on in London is being replicated in Manchester, writes Rupert Goddard.

Increasingly developers are focusing on the creation of diverse, liveable pieces of the city rather than individual developments, and it is essential that schemes complement and enhance the city to ensure that projects are sustainable for the long term.


There will be an increasing investment in the confident, high-performing North West universities with Manchester driving the science agenda with major investment projects, such as the Sir Henry Royce Institute linking up institutions from Liverpool to Sheffield. The development of universities will be increasingly dynamic, with commercial organisations bringing in investment and driving redevelopment.


Students will continue to drive change in the region's universities by looking for that exceptional life experience. The region's major cities have a strong hand to play, but students will also be looking for facilities that compete with the best in the world. This demand will drive investment in the spaces that students live, work and play in. For universities outside of the leading Russell Group the situation is more challenging; how can they become distinctive? What courses should they teach? Where are the commercial opportunities in an increasingly tough market?

Out of town retail

Nick Johnson's redevelopment of Altrincham Market shows what can be done to challenge the dominance of out-of-town retail. It offers a vision of a local, genuine experience that is already spreading to other parts of the town. Local markets in many other North West towns provide a counterpoint to the overly-predictable high street. It is this distinctive experience that shoppers and retailers are increasingly attracted to.

Cultural investment

Cultural investment goes hand-in-hand with commercial and R&D investment to provide Manchester with what it needs to become a true world city. The recently announced investment into the Factory Theatre at Granada adds to the range of cultural assets that the city is developing. This is a major boost for the city complementing cultural projects like the Cornerhouse and the Whitworth Gallery.

Second city

Recently, I was in Birmingham, where we are doing two major higher education projects. My cab driver was telling me how Manchester's claim to be the second city has really got their backs up, so we must be doing something right.

Rupert Goddard is a partner at architecture practice Sheppard Robson

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do you not think it may have got Birmingham’s back up merely claiming to be the second city – when Manchester clearly is not?

By Bob Dawson

No, you’re right, Manchester is not the second city. Manchester is the first city, followed by London, with Birmingham some way behind. Actually, having lived in Birmingham for about 5 years, I can’t think of any other city I’d want to live in less.

By Mancunian

Delusion holds no bounds.

By John