The continued success of public-private partnerships is central to ensuring the growth of the city centre creates quality spaces, writes Stefan Trebicki.
Whether subject to individual initiatives or brought forward as a collection of plots, opportune locations for development are now frequently identified as part of Strategic or Neighbourhood Development Frameworks. These frameworks have increasingly been used as a vehicle by the Council to enable a more comprehensive approach to the design and assessment of proposals, both in their present and potential context.
A framework item appearing on the Council’s monthly executive meeting agenda is an early indication of forthcoming major development interest. However, it is the consideration of how adopted, proposed and future frameworks relate to one another which gives us a clue as to how our city centre is likely to evolve in 2017.
In terms of large scale development sites, to the east of the city core, the Mayfield development is a unique opportunity to bring forward a substantial piece of genuine public realm unlocking the River Medlock at its heart. It wouldn’t be surprising to see U+I submit a 2017 refresh to the Mayfield Framework and come forward with the first planning applications before the end of next year.
Adjacent and further north, beyond the Piccadilly Regeneration area, over the next twelve months we could expect a surge of interest running concentrically along what has been referred to as the northern fringe. Last week, refreshes of the Ancoats/New Islington and New Cross Frameworks were approved by the executive and these areas could now begin to be considered as true extensions of the city centre. The updated thinking should encourage further regeneration and new development particularly around the marina in 2017.
Emerging interest in the area surrounding Great Ducie Street calls for the need for this area to be considered strategically in 2017 particularly given its proximity to the River Irwell and the opportunity that comes with the potential to open up the banks of this undervalued asset.
Important too will be the need to balance new residential supply with existing employment uses to support the needs of the many successful local businesses which predominate in these remnants of the city centre’s former manufacturing base.
Renaker, as expected, has made rapid progress on the Owen Street site to the south of the city core and this should act as a catalyst in 2017 for other sites within the Great Jackson Street Framework. In response, consideration will need to be given to smaller but strategically important areas such as Knott Mill which bridge the gaps between the city core and large scale development at the city fringe.
Adjacent to Knott Mill, the next 12 months should also provide us with the intentions for the Manchester Central site and Great Northern following the recently submitted draft framework. Coupled with commencement of construction of other consented tall buildings along Whitworth Street West in early 2017, an emerging cluster of towers should provide some company for the Hilton tower at what is the southern gateway to the city centre, for now.
Progress in these areas is defined by the economic cycles, the impact of Brexit on the current cycle isn’t likely to be apparent for a while. Despite a short initial lull following the referendum, in Manchester at least, developers carried on regardless and we hope will do so into 2017.
It is important to remember there is gulf between the number of planning consents and those schemes which have started and will start on site. Nevertheless, there are encouraging numbers of tower cranes in the city centre as 2016 ends, so as an architect I remain as optimistic as ever.
- Stefan Trebicki is project architect at SimpsonHaugh & Partners