NW 2015: Time right to go steady

Much has been said about how 2014 has been a defining year for Manchester, and that this is likely to continue into 2015. However, perhaps more interesting and dramatic is the re-establishment of relations between the two great North West cities of Liverpool and Manchester. If 2014 was the 'getting to know each other' phase, what does 2015 hold for the relationship? Peter Swift asks.

A sharing of podiums out at MIPIM in Cannes earlier in the year signalled a bringing under the wing of Mayor Anderson by Sir Howard Bernstein and Cllr Sir Richard Leese, progressing to a joint stand at MIPIM UK in September. Perhaps going forward Marketing Manchester might pick up the phone to Chris Brown and their Liverpool counterparts to formulate a joint sponsorship package for those of us with a foot in both cities?

The International Festival for Business in June and July established Liverpool as a major Northern city to do business in and with. Yet deals struck with Chinese and Indian investors are all well and good, but the ripple effect appeared to fizzle out half way down the M62 and hardly raised an eyebrow in Manchester. With the current Government endorsing a reprise in 2016, perhaps Liverpool agrees to share the organisation and the spoils with its Mancunian neighbours?

Then of course we come to the Mayoral issue. Joe Anderson appears to have bedded into his role and whether you share his politics or not, you cannot argue that he is slowly becoming the civic voice of Liverpool it has lacked for too long. With 'Devo Manc' looming, Manchester have now agreed to follow their lead and so maybe we will see a reciprocal arrangement where Joe Anderson coaches his Manchester counterpart in all things 'Mayoral'?

IFB aside, Mayor Anderson's defining moment of 2014 had to be the return of the much loved Royal de Luxe giants for the Memoires of 1914 extravaganza. As in 2012 Jean-Luc Courcoult and his massive marionettes drew millions to the city and grabbed the headlines across the globe. When Manchester International Festival are commissioning their new 'Factory' within Allied London's St John's estate, perhaps they should plan a giant-sized service bay that will mark the culmination of a 33-mile procession along the M62?

2014 saw the announcement of a host of measures to facilitate the Northern Powerhouse and finally someone in Westminster realised that the best case for building HS2 was to make sure HS3 was finished first. Notwithstanding the logic of making the journey from Manchester to Leeds quicker and easier, let's start closer to home. Liverpool 2 and Peel's continued investment in their dock estate and city waterfront coupled with a second Mersey crossing and a Manchester 'Aeropolis' is a compelling prospect… the Atlantic Gateway and with it an infrastructure of collaboration is on the horizon.

Stranger things have happened. Take the much-feted Copenhagen and Malmo – two great Scandinavian cities, in two different countries, joined also by a bridge and a tunnel. They share an international container port and cruise liner terminal between them and have a joint working agreement between their respective City Architects (remember them?). They also have amazing cycling infrastructure. Given the widely criticised efforts of Transport for Greater Manchester on the Oxford Road Corridor and Liverpool's lacklustre roll-out of its bike hire programme, perhaps this is where the courtship should go next?

So will 2015 see Liverpool and Manchester 'going steady'? Let's hope so – 'better together' as they say North of the border!

Peter Swift is joint managing partner of landscape architect Planit-ie

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