SPRINTER WARMER… If Storm Ciara taught us one thing it was that the prospect of reprising the role of sardine on one of Northern Rail’s ancient Sprinter trains can be made more palatable. Just add some sideways sleet, gale-force winds and a dash of pernicious hale and you will soon have commuters scrambling to get on board and wedge themselves into the armpits of fellow passengers in order to escape the wild lament battering the platform outside. Let’s hope the inevitability of more extreme weather doesn’t encourage Grant Shapps to rest on his laurels when it comes to finally ditching the squealing relics.

Pete Swift Bike

EXHAUSTING JOURNEYS… As if speaking in front of a room of people wasn’t daunting enough, ardent cyclist, Pete Swift of Planit-IE, decided to cycle part of the journey to take up his panel slot at Place North West‘s Lancashire Development Update yesterday. However he admitted he was a bit over-ambitious, underestimating the five-mile trek needed from Blackburn station to the venue. While Pete was toiling away, another of the day’s speakers, Justin Cove of Hive Land & Planning, almost didn’t make it at all as the exhaust fell off his car en route. Not even a planner could legislate for that.

Exchange Square Fountain Public Art February 2020

WET N NOT SO WILD… The water feature in Manchester’s Exchange Square caused more sprained ankles and cut knees than could be counted when last operational, with even the council acknowledging “the trip hazards” when the Martha Schwartz Partners-designed feature closed for refurbishment in 2018. The hoardings have partly come down to reveal what Glossop firm The Fountain Company has been working on. The spouts have been retained, the water feature raised and gaps concreted over so no litter or ankles can get in. A smart move, but with Manchester notoriously bad at fountains (Piccadilly Gardens anyone?) we’ll have to test it when it’s fully open and operational to be sure.

Louise Morrrissey, Peel Holdings To The Right

PEELING BELLS… With 32-years under her belt, Louise Morrissey took early retirement from Peel L&P at Christmas, THING learns. During her time, Morrissey was involved in dozens of projects at the region’s dominant landowner, and served as a director on 15 Peel SPVs, a drop in the ocean of the hundreds of companies in the Peel empire, but more than most people will manage in their careers. She led on housebuilding projects that delivered thousands of homes and was a board member of the Cheshire & Warrington LEP. We wish Morrissey a happy and healthy retirement and a well-deserved break from the planning dramas of Peel Dome.

English Channel

HUMBLE BRAG… If you know somebody has run a marathon, don’t ask them about it.  That is unless you fancy having a two-hour, one-way conversation about the various ways to lance a blister. Anyone who has completed a major feat of endurance and lived to tell the tale will do so at any opportunity. During some background research on the redevelopment of Windermere’s Langdale Chase hotel, THING found one such example, discovering former owner Thomas Noblett had claimed the accolade as the first hotelier to ever swim the English Channel. THING wonders who is keeping track of the firsts in other professions to scoop such positions – accountant, poet, developer?

Barrow Coastal Walk

Credit: Natural England

WALNEY WALK… 21 miles of coastal path on Walney Island near Barrow-in-Furness opened to the public this week as part of plans for a 2,800-mile English Coast Path. Not factoring in time spent taking photographs of the dramatic views across the Irish sea or cooing at the grey seals at Walney Nature Reserve, by our estimations it would take you around eight hours to complete it in one go; if you do it, it may be a good idea to Barrow a sturdy pair of walking boots.

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