Question Time (32)

Roney: Manchester should not compromise on future development

Manchester City Council chief executive Joanne Roney said Manchester should demand high development standards in all areas, hinting at changes to the planning process that would put a larger focus on carbon neutrality.

Speaking at an event today organised by the Forum for the Built Environment, Roney said: “We want to build quality buildings that are zero carbon, linked to public realm, with transport infrastructure that works.

“We shouldn’t be compromising, we should be demanding that standard, but we can’t expect the property industry to do it without Government investment.”

The chief executive, who took over from Sir Howard Bernstein in April 2017,  said it was essential to convince Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s chief special advisor, to “rip up” the Government’s green book appraisal system, which has skewed infrastructure investment towards the South.

Roney called on developers and industry professionals to come together to lobby Government to help deliver improvements in Manchester, and said that she wanted the city to be known for “beautiful public realms and an integrated transport system.” She said she would be “stunningly proud” if Manchester became the UK’s first carbon neutral city.

However, when asked about the potential pedestrianisation of Deansgate, Roney said: “It sounds great but the reality is, with the volume of people travelling into the city centre, closing off streets just puts the problem somewhere else.”

Roney emphasised the importance of the Northern Gateway in terms of delivering residential projects outside of the city centre and suggested that Wythenshawe could be the next major regeneration zone.

She said: “We’re here to put equal importance on the outside areas. We won’t meet demand for residential just in the city centre.

“Greater Manchester towns need to contribute to the offer of the city centre but we don’t want pet projects that don’t fit with our overall aims.”

In a wide-ranging conversation, Roney said the process of finding a replacement for Eddie Smith, Manchester’s long-time head of regeneration, had begun with an appointment expected in March. Smith, who has been in the role for 20 years, announced his intention to retire last November.

Roney also revealed the consultation on designs for Piccadilly Gardens would begin in the summer as part of a city-wider public realm overhaul, including proposals for Parsonage Gardens and Brazennose Square.

When asked by Place North West about the controversial Eastlands Arena project, which could bring a 20,000-seat concert venue to East Manchester but has drawn objections from various parties, Roney acknowledged the concerns but remained tight-lipped saying: “It is going through a process.”

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Manchester Council – all sausage and no sizzle. Happy to say whatever to get into the press but when it comes to meeting those promises we’re left high and dry.

Beautiful example in this article: “She said she would be “stunningly proud” if Manchester became the UK’s first carbon neutral city.” then “However, when asked about the potential pedestrianisation of Deansgate, Roney said: “It sounds great but the reality is, with the volume of people travelling into the city centre, closing off streets just puts the problem somewhere else.”

Other cities are managing just fine closing their main streets. Time for a shake-up in Manchester Council to get some of these dinosaurs out

By Anonymous

Manchester is not going to be a carbon neutral city by 2038 if the council keep widening roads and delaying on Bee Network cycle schemes. Completely restricting cars, encouraging cycling and driving further Metrolink extensions will help

By Anonymous

Horse. Stable. Bolted.

Manchester City Council have systematically ruined Manchester since 1974 with rubbish ‘regeneration’ schemes (on the whole), the decimation of built heritage, some of the worst public realms of any UK City coupled with some of the filthiest streets in the developed world.

The city needs pulling up by its bootstraps instead of soundbites by greedy and unambitious officials.

By Acelius

Get yourselves over to Liverpool, little traffic, few people, no construction, bliss.

By Floyd

Council roney needs to make it compulsory for all buildings(especially white ones)to be cleaned.The whole city needs a jet wash.

By Anonymous

The thing about the pedestrianisation of Deansgate, is that people forget that traders need access to the Moon Under Water. Although they do say it will help people in wheeelchairs.

By Huey

Yes let’s pedestrianise Manchester, turn it into a ghost town and force people to work in other towns, Trafford Centre would love it

By Dan

‘ she wanted the city to be known for “beautiful public realms’
Has she consulted a dictionary?
…..A person or thing that is beautiful has perfection of form, colour, etc., or noble and spiritual qualities,,,,,
Can she actually give an example?

By neil

This woman should go back to Doncaster. She has a small town mentality and limited ambition. Instead of doing up a large garden, which is what Parsonage is, she should be asking herself why Great Ancoats street retail park has been turned into another shabby car park rather than being landscaped?A consultation on Piccadilly? In the words of that woman commenting when Theresa May called the 2017 General Election, “What another one?”

By Elephant

Acelius, Manchester city centre was a dreadful place in the 1970s the regeneration of the centre ( apart from Piccadilly) in the last 25 years has been fantastic.

By Monty


Not that I wouldn’t like cleaners streets, but Manchester is one of the cleanest cities in the UK.
In terms of the wider Greater Manchester region, Eccles and Bury are also in the top 10 areas.

The regeneration of Manchester is also one of the biggest success stories in the UK. Big parts of the city were slums and not that long ago either. Not to say Manchester doesn’t have as much first class architecture compared to other cities which is now it’s finally getting some recognition.
If you think that Manchester is getting worse then you need to get out (try walking or cycling while you’re at it).

By L

Any discussion about redeveloping Manchester City centre is pointless unless that festering boil, known as the Arndale Centre is lanced. Yes it will be difficult, costly and long term but there is no bigger contributor, other than perhaps Piccadilly Gardens to making that whole section of Manchester City centre a thoroughly miserable and stressful experience to walk around.

Please Joanne, if you’re reading this, I implore you, do something about the utterly grim Arndale centre.

By Arndale hater

I doubt many people would shed a tear if the Arndale went. A monumental error as Bill Bryson pointed out. It is also a shame that some of the better plans after the bomb weren’t implemented. a massive opportunity lost. There has been a hell of lot of good in the city center over the past 30 years, but also far too much bad. Bit more long term and a real focus on making the place look better would go a long long way. It has still got the reputation of being an ugly city, and i doubt many would disagree.

By Loganberry

A whole area of Manchester is a dump, Arndale, Northern Quarter, Piccadilly, Portland Street, Chinatown, Gay village bar Canal Street itself are all awful and worse than any areas of central Liverpool, Leeds or Glasgow. Retail and nightlife are rubbish too.

By Dan

Dan, as always thanks for your measured contribution.

By Monty

The council do not seem to realise how much damage m/cr city centre and its surrounding buildings are doing to the reputation of our city.I would personally relocate the city centre park and build a cluster of skyscrapers.

By jacko

I have to agree with the comments about the Arndale centre a real blot on the landscape especially the multistorey carpark a real eyesore.

By Lenny1968

Anybody who says Arndale is top is a troll

By Manc lad

Joanne Roney is inspirational. She comes across as so sincere and genuine. Very informative and not afraid to answer questions honestly.

By A Cynical

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