In the first of a series exploring issues facing the North West in 2018, Joanne Roney, chief executive of Manchester City Council, looks at the future of Manchester’s northern fringe.
Manchester as a place has been transformed over the past two decades and the pace of change continues. Cranes – that barometer of developer and investor confidence – puncture the skyline as new buildings go up to provide both homes and offices.
Our next challenge is how we help reconnect this thriving city centre to new and existing communities, expanding the economy of the central core to support the growth of new neighbourhoods that will help to meet the huge demand for new high-quality housing.
We have the opportunity to do this at scale through the unprecedented potential of the Northern Gateway.
This sweep of the city from Victoria station to the Intermediate Ring Road at Queen’s Road, incorporating the neighbourhoods of the Lower Irk Valley, New Cross and Collyhurst is one of the largest urban regeneration opportunities in the UK, where at least 10,000 new homes will be built in the next 10 to 15 years, creating new communities and expanding existing ones.
Across 300 acres of developable land, we have our biggest opportunity to meet the city’s residential growth demand through a range of sustainable, mixed-use neighbourhoods, with fantastic connectivity to jobs, leisure and culture.
Work is already underway to begin this transformational change. In April we signed a joint venture partnership agreement with the Far East Consortium Limited with the first 12 development plots identified.
A world class masterplanning team has been assembled and the first ambitious proposals to unlock the potential of the area are starting to be explored and we will shortly be sharing these ideas with local residents and other stakeholders to hear and incorporate their views. The masterplanning team includes Farrells, Turner & Townsend, HOW Planning, Planit-IE, Arup, Regeneris, and Buro Four.
The Northern Gateway is an area of vast natural assets such as the Irk River valley basin, open green space and woodlands, as well as important infrastructure such as Metrolink. Our ambition is to create a world-renowned example of urban planning, where green public space is integral around high-quality public facilities including new schools and public realm, all serviced by excellent walking, cycling and public transport links.
The new homes themselves will be designed to be as sustainable as possible, incorporating state-of-the-art technologies to ensure the lowest carbon footprint and supporting the environmental ambitions of Manchester – marking a blueprint for low-carbon housing elsewhere in the city.
Close to the city centre and employment opportunities, the Northern Gateway should help to retain residents in north Manchester while attracting a groundswell of new residents and families who are key in creating that sense of place that helps build successful communities.
Manchester’s population is forecast to reach 600,000 by 2021, with the wider city centre expected to grow from 54,000 to more than 80,000 by 2024 – another 26,000 people in just seven years. We have to ensure we have the right homes and social infrastructure to support this economic growth and the right partners to help us to continually grow and evolve and offer a great quality of life for everyone.
The first phase of the Northern Gateway is the development of four buildings around the historic open space of Angel Meadow by Far East Consortium. The scheme will deliver 756 new homes and just as importantly open up the park and surrounding streets to expand the Northern edge of the city.
Work on the first buildings will start next year and they will be a benchmark for the standard of placemaking to come.
The Northern Gateway is a key part of the city’s residential growth strategy for the next decade, one that aims to attract more families to live and stay in the city. It is an opportunity to create a bold new vision of urban living and we are determined to deliver that, and deliver it well.
The North West in 2018 series features guest contributors looking ahead to next year and is published throughout December.