The future of Manchester and development beyond the city fringe into fast-growing towns were the topics of conversation at a special roundtable hosted by JMW Solicitors.
The participants were:
- James Sidlow, Renaker
- John Searle, Rochdale Council
- John McHugh, CBRE
- Guy Butler, Glenbrook
- Nick Nelson, Sixteen Real Estate
- Ian Scott, Lambert Smith Hampton
- Katie Wray, Deloitte
- Thomas Pearson, JMW Solicitors
- Simon Maddox, JMW Solicitors
The debate was chaired by Jessica Middleton-Pugh, contributing editor of Place North West.
Talking points from the roundtable:
Ian Scott: “The city council has delivered and driven a growth and pro-development agenda. I envisage this pro-development ethos will trickle out into local towns, but the risk is that you will have local authorities like Stockport and Rochdale that are proactive, along with others that won’t be able to keep up.”
Guy Butler: “Manchester is a place where people come for education, investment and tourism. My big concern is how we maintain this and keep people from reverting back to London. Are we strong enough to be resilient and remain stable during a crisis?”
James Sidlow: “There is a current pipeline of thousands of residential units, and we would like to say that the city is expanding, but the problem is that we have barriers. We need some key strategic developers to connect and agree on how we link places up to the world beyond the ring road, which is acting as a barrier to the city, and is a limit on its expansion.”
Thomas Pearson: “There is a grit in the North that adds character and uniqueness to its towns, and isn’t found in other places across the country. It comes from the relationship between the people and the heritage of the places where they live.”
Katie Wray: “The heritage assets that have been left alone and undeveloped are because they are challenging, but you get the more creative results out of using these sites. You can also marry their development with the carbon agenda, and it provides an opportunity to reuse these assets.”
John Searle: “Is there a chance for more small contained towns to offer alternatives to living in the city centre? Not everyone wants to live in the city, but people still work in it and others simply want access to it. Rochdale is close, it’s only 14 minutes by train. This whole system is starting to change, and the satellite towns of Greater Manchester have a big role to play in the future of its development.”
Simon Maddox: “If we want to be a truly international city, we need to focus on families and young professionals. We want them to have the infrastructure in place to keep people here and support them as it’s part of a bigger picture.”
John McHugh: “Look at Circle Square and First Street, they both have a mixed-use offer which we’re seeing massively across the UK. The ‘live work and play story’ that was told in the past is now very much alive.
“We’re looking at what the Monday to Friday, Saturday and Sunday offer is now as projects can’t just be an office development. There is a massive blur across districts in the city, and we’re seeing developers think longer term.”
Nick Nelson: “Offices have to be unique. Every district has to have its own selling point, and the existing ones work well. NOMA is different from Spinningfields, which is different to the future offer of Central Retail Park. One thing is for sure however, there will be an office space lag in the next 12 to 18 months.”