Manchester City Council chief executive Joanne Roney said Manchester should demand high development standards in all areas, hinting at changes to the planning process that would put a larger focus on carbon neutrality.
Speaking at an event today organised by the Forum for the Built Environment, Roney said: “We want to build quality buildings that are zero carbon, linked to public realm, with transport infrastructure that works.
“We shouldn’t be compromising, we should be demanding that standard, but we can’t expect the property industry to do it without Government investment.”
The chief executive, who took over from Sir Howard Bernstein in April 2017, said it was essential to convince Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s chief special advisor, to “rip up” the Government’s green book appraisal system, which has skewed infrastructure investment towards the South.
Roney called on developers and industry professionals to come together to lobby Government to help deliver improvements in Manchester, and said that she wanted the city to be known for “beautiful public realms and an integrated transport system.” She said she would be “stunningly proud” if Manchester became the UK’s first carbon neutral city.
However, when asked about the potential pedestrianisation of Deansgate, Roney said: “It sounds great but the reality is, with the volume of people travelling into the city centre, closing off streets just puts the problem somewhere else.”
Roney emphasised the importance of the Northern Gateway in terms of delivering residential projects outside of the city centre and suggested that Wythenshawe could be the next major regeneration zone.
She said: “We’re here to put equal importance on the outside areas. We won’t meet demand for residential just in the city centre.
“Greater Manchester towns need to contribute to the offer of the city centre but we don’t want pet projects that don’t fit with our overall aims.”
In a wide-ranging conversation, Roney said the process of finding a replacement for Eddie Smith, Manchester’s long-time head of regeneration, had begun with an appointment expected in March. Smith, who has been in the role for 20 years, announced his intention to retire last November.
Roney also revealed the consultation on designs for Piccadilly Gardens would begin in the summer as part of a city-wider public realm overhaul, including proposals for Parsonage Gardens and Brazennose Square.
When asked by Place North West about the controversial Eastlands Arena project, which could bring a 20,000-seat concert venue to East Manchester but has drawn objections from various parties, Roney acknowledged the concerns but remained tight-lipped saying: “It is going through a process.”