In the last of our four-part series celebrating the most entertaining Things of the Week from 2020, we present goings-on from October, November and December.
In October the GMSF debacle was getting to us all, while a Twitter sensation announced plans for a dubious-looking jigsaw.
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 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 on TV like some sort of grotesque reality show. “Day 6,589 in the GMSF house and Bolton has tried to escape back to Lancashire.”
JIGSAW…Brace yourselves, people of Liverpool. Cold War Steve, Twitter’s premier satirical art genius, is on his way to you as part of the ‘Cold War Steve Meets the Outside World’ tour. The man behind Cold War Steve, Christopher Spencer, is travelling around England recreating his hilarious dystopian artwork, which depicts politicians and celebrities in a variety of grim scenarios on a grand scale. So far he has been to Bournemouth and Coventry but is currently in Liverpool putting together a 1,500 sq ft jigsaw of Donald Trump next to the Liver building. Not to be missed.
In November, we brought news of a planning saga on Weatherfield’s famous cobbles and a showstopper bake of which Paul Hollywood would have been proud.
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.”
DEANSCAKE SQUARE…Renaker’s Deansgate Square was immortalised in sponge and icing before being promptly demolished by hungry developers this week. The creator of the four-tower cake was local baker Lisa Bochicchio, who managed to produce a showstopper for which TV’s premier cake fiend Paul Hollywood would surely dish out one of his famous handshakes. Here’s hoping Deansgate Square has more structural integrity than Bochicchio’s creation.
In December, we saw a novel use for a former shoe shop, while rock star Robbie Williams gave some sage life advice to students at the newly opened Liverpool Media Academy.
DIY…Rethinking retail is high on the agenda of councils everywhere. The high street needs to adapt to cope with changing shopping habits and the rise of evil mastermind Jeff Bezos – this much is clear. In Stockport, a community group is doing just that. Through crowdfunding, community-focused design team Easy Peel Studio and community benefit society Plastic Shed, raised the requisite funds to transform the former Meeks Shoes store at Merseyway shopping centre into a DIY workshop. Handy types can use the space for free to make things out of discarded materials such as wood and plastic, before selling them on. Rachel Lewis, co-director at Plastic Shed, summed up the endeavour quite nicely. “This is ‘building back better’. Having places on the high street put back into local hands means it is connected to local people and accountable to the community. In the new normal, it’s vital that we listen to what the community needs.”
ROCK DJ…Robbie Williams, Staffordshire’s most famous son, offered advice to students at the newly opened Liverpool Media Academy at the former Metquarter retail complex, which he co-owns. The performing arts and music campus was created by repurposing 17 retail units into 50,000 sq ft of studio and events space in a project led by asset manager Queensberry and landowner Bywater Properties. After a long, successful career, Williams had some pearls of wisdom for the wide-eyed students he addressed in an online Q+A. “Every one of you needs to know we are lions”, he said, before delivering a soliloquy on fear that, while well-intentioned, could have been improved with a thesaurus. “We are braver than any fear. Fear thinks it’s bigger than you but, you need to show you’re not scared of it every time and that you’re bigger and stronger than any fear can ever be. Think bigger than you ever have and then think bigger again. Without fear, you have no boundaries.” Message received loud and clear, Robbie!