TURN-STYLE…Preserving heritage can be tricky – just ask Premier League high-flyers Everton FC. But Salboy’s transformation of the former turnstile at Manchester Racecourse proves it can be done. As part of its 500-home Castle Irwell scheme in Salford, the developer is converting the former turnstile building into a site headquarters for contractor Domis. In days gone by, thousands of horse racing fans would pass through the turnstile on their way to see jockeys like Lester Piggott ride to victory. Once the Castle Irwell scheme is complete, the revamped turnstile, designed by Calderpeel Architects, will be put to good use as a shop or community centre. Waste not, want not.
ARENA DREAMING…One of the most contentious projects in Manchester – Oak View Group’s Eastlands arena – may now have the go-ahead, but at least one member of its project team is still feeling the after-effects. John Cooper, planning and development partner at Deloitte Real Estate, described the sheer “relief and happiness” he felt after the council approved the plans last month, and said his chunky glasses are doing wonders to cover up the residual evidence of late nights spent preparing the application before it went to committee. The scheme’s opponents – most notably ASM Global, operator of the rival AO Arena – certainly gave OVG a run for its money, saying there was no way Manchester could support two major entertainment venues and producing reams of data to back up its claims. OVG fought back with its own research and a war of words between the two lasted for months. Unfortunately for him, Cooper can’t put his feet up yet. Secretary of State Robert Jenrick has received an anonymous request to call in the application, so that will have to be considered before the plans are formally approved. Hang in there, John.
SWITCH ON…It is probably too early to talk about Christmas, unless you’re one of those smug people who buy and wrap all of their presents by the end of July, but here goes. This year, for obvious reasons, Manchester will not be holding its annual Christmas lights switch-on extravaganza and instead will stage a small, socially distanced gathering to mark the illumination of the city for the festive season. Manchester City Council is in the process of selecting three NHS key workers to press the big red button, a gesture of gratitude for their unwavering commitment to looking after people during the last six months. Those who wish to watch can stream the event at home, which is not quite the same as the real thing but will come with the added benefit of warmth. Last year’s event boasted a star-studded line-up featuring Becky Hill, HRVY and Olly Dobson. No, me neither.
WALL WORK…In January, a section of Chester’s historic Roman walls, close to to the famous Eastgate clock, collapsed, but the ancient monument is slowly being restored. The first phase of the repairs, which includes a temporary walkway for people to traverse the damaged section of wall, is expected to be completed before Christmas. Two further phases of work will follow. Roman walls weren’t rebuilt in a day.
SPORTING HONOUR…Holyhead in North Wales is one of 11 towns across the UK and Ireland to receive long-awaited recognition as a Quidditch tour de force. For the uninitiated, Quidditch – the brainchild of Harry Potter author JK Rowling – is a sport played by wizards who fly around on broomsticks trying to throw the quaffle through hoops while the seeker endeavours to win the game by catching the elusive golden snitch. Obviously.
The so-called Holyhead Harpies, founded in 1203 and a member of the UK and Ireland Quidditch league, play in a dark green and gold kit and enjoy a fierce rivalry with Dorset-based Puddlemere United. As a result of the team’s position as a stalwart of the sport, Mayor of Holyhead, Cllr Alan Williams – reportedly a huge Harpies fan – accepted a decorative banner in an official ceremony at South Stack earlier this week, which coincided with the launch of the book Quidditch Through the Ages, a companion to Rowling’s stories about a bespectacled wizard.
Behind the scenes footage of negotiations over the final draft GMSF. pic.twitter.com/3GZd1kjgz8
— Paul Smith (@Paul_SLG) October 5, 2020
GMSF MESS…Three things in life are certain: death, taxes and delays to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework. The document, which is being drawn up by the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs, will set out land allocations for housing and employment development…if they ever finish it. The most recent delay came about as a result of a spat between Stockport and Tameside councils over Green Belt reallocations (no surprises there) and the publication date has been pushed back once more. It must be tough for those who just want it to be over, but the whole thing would be a lot less frustrating if the GMSF meetings were filmed and aired in TV like some sort of grotesque reality show. “Day 6589 in the GMSF house and Bolton has tried to escape back to Lancashire.”