SOAP SAGA…Whoever said town planning wasn’t glamorous was wrong. Manchester consultancy Ruth Jackson Planning has gone all showbiz in recent weeks, acting as an advisor to your parents’ favourite soap opera, Coronation Street. RJP has been advising ITV scriptwriters on how to approach a storyline involving Weatherfield’s planning department. Corrie‘s writers worked with RJP associate director Tess Cook, who gave them the lowdown on everything from Section 106 agreements to bat surveys. The story, which airs this month, will see nimbyism played out on Weatherfield’s famous cobbles as Gail Platt, Roy Cropper and the rest of the crew unite to try to stop developer Ray Crosby levelling half the street to build a hotel complex. RJP founder Ruth Jackson said: “Having an input on the nation’s favourite soap is a far cry from the usual workload and has definitely been a bit of light relief during lockdown.”
LEN’S LENS...What do Mick Hucknall and Fred Dibnah have in common? Obviously, the answer is the Manchester Arena topping out ceremony. Dur! This is one of many wonderful photos in Len Grant’s latest book, Regeneration Manchester: 30 years of storytelling. It appears alongside images of rebuilding after the 1996 bomb and of old Hulme before it was reimagined. See the Bridgewater Hall emerging from a scruffy car park site, and the Imperial War Museum North before it was clad. There is much for regen fans to enjoy in this useful and entertaining book, not least the whimsical commentary from the photographer himself throughout. On sale now for £25
CHARITY MILES…Deloitte’s Real Estate planning and development teams in Manchester and Leeds swum, walked, run and cycled 1,000 miles in aid of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, as part of the firm’s celebration of Black History Month. The 1,000-mile achievement contributed to the advisory firm’s ambition of circumnavigating the globe – not literally – through sporting activities, aiming to travel the equivalent of 24,901 miles in total. In doing so, the team has raised in excess of £3,700 so far.
TOWER POWER…Urban Splash founder Tom Bloxham had better watch out unless he wants to feel the wrath of the North West’s most curmudgeonly skyscraper. Twitter sensation Angry Beetham took exception to Bloxham’s suggestion that the Beetham Tower, once Manchester’s tallest building, is now dwarfed by Renaker’s Deansgate Square cluster. Doing its best impression of Donald Trump, the tower labelled the facts presented by Bloxham as “total lies” and threatened to “urban smash” the developer to pieces.
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS…Luminous Large-Scale Reindeers – the difficult second album from an obscure Finnish folk band, or part of Liverpool One’s Christmas decorations? The latter of course. As Christmas trees and light-up plastic Santas begin to appear in windows across the region, the retail complex has flicked the switch on its own decorations, turning Liverpool One into a winter wonderland complete with gigantic Christmas tree, disembodied angel wings and, of course, Rudolph and his pals dipped in treacle and rolled in tinsel. Bring on the festivities.
SICK SKILLS…Good news for Manchester’s creative arts sector this week, as cultural group SICK! Productions scooped a £150,000, five-year funding award from Oglesby Charitable Trust, the charity set up by Bruntwood chief executive Chris Oglesby. The philanthropic investment will be used to support Sick!’s 10-year programme of creative projects in Moston and Harpurhey, including to commission a series of artworks from local and international artists. The Oglesby grant will also be used to help bring artists from across the world to work in Manchester communities. Faidat Ope (pictured), Harpurhey resident and ambassador for SICK! Productions, said: “We’re not known as an artistic part of Manchester but there’s a huge artistic community here. I believe SICK! will start to address this and have a positive influence on the way people see Moston and Harpurhey.” She added: “We are a wonderful, diverse and hard-working community. I’m excited about how a ten-year commitment to the area will result in changing perceptions of my home and give people more opportunities to express themselves through art.”