Property not about architecture anymore, says Elliott
According to Gavin Elliott, head of architecture practice BDP's Manchester studio, "we are back to where we were in 2008, where market neo-liberalism and capitalism is dictating development in the city".
Property developments are now "not about architecture, but about economics" said Elliott, with Manchester skyscraper Beetham Tower, "a testament to naked capitalism".
Elliott was speaking as part of the Liveable City conference at the Manchester School of Art, co-organised by RIBA North West, Manchester School of Architecture and the Danish Embassy.
Elliot took to the stage alongside Danish architects Rune Veile of BCVA and Claus Gade of NOVA5 to discuss the topic of 'Mending Modernist Mistakes'.
While for the Danish architects the buzzword for developments in their country was "democratic", Elliott put architectural trends in Manchester in the context of the wider UK economy, with "a greater disparity between the rich and poor, and the rich getting richer". This had led to an unfair bias towards London, which he said "has everything, and will continue to get everything, while Manchester gets £60m of public sector cuts".
Elliot described the development of Manchester's Green Quarter as "just dreadful", compared to southern cities such as Cambridge which he said were "lovely, and are allowed to have more loveliness" because of the difference in land values.
One example was the £500m Greengate regeneration project in Salford on the border with Manchester. Feilden Clegg Bradley did a masterplan for the site for Salford City Council and Network Rail in 2007, which included a zero-energy sustainable communities and an urban bridge. However in the latest phase of development, Elliott said that "the enthusiasm of the FCB masterplan has been lost, and we are back to where we were in 2008 when market neo-liberalism and capitalism is dictating development in the city."
"Planners used to be heroes" said Elliot. "We don't have planners anymore, we have developers."
The Liveable City continues until Thursday 27 November. The conference was organised to share best practice between Danish architects, particularly those working in Copenhagan, and Manchester architects and decision-makers.