MASK-ERADE…It has not been a legal requirement to wear a mask on public transport since July, except on a handful of local services, including the Metrolink. Andy Burnham flexed his mayoral muscle and ruled that face coverings would still be mandatory on Manchester’s trams even after the national rule on masks was repealed. Under Metrolink’s rules, failure to wear a face covering could result in a £100 fine. However, a request for information from Place North West to Transport for Greater Manchester found that since 19 July, not a single fine has been handed out. This news may shock some Metrolink users as there is a plethora of anecdotal evidence about the lack of masks being worn on services. TfGM told Place that the focus of Metrolink staff had been on “education, engagement and encouraging passengers to wear face coverings” rather than dishing out fines. The transport body added that more than 11,000 masks had been handed to customers since the rule change. Make of that what you will.

Deansgate Square Models From Renaker, Renaker, C Julia Hatmaker For Place North West

Credit: Place North West

MODEL DELIGHTS… It’s not often you get to tower above a skyscraper but thanks to an intricate model of Deansgate Square you can. Manchester-based Creative Service Industries has brought the larger-than-life scheme down to the miniature level in a piece of art on display at Renaker’s Marketing Suite off Great Jackson Street. The mini-Manchester is gearing up for a change too, with the addition of to-scale versions of the two Park Place 56-storey towers designed by Hodder + Partners for Aubrey Weiss. The model is well worth a visit because it’s 1) very cool and 2) useful for getting a lay of the land. Just beware though, the temptation to go Godzilla on it is decidedly strong.

Blackpool Sunset, Blackpool, P.Place North West

Credit: Place North West

COSTA DEL BLACKPOOL…The Centre for Cities recovery tracker shows encouraging data for seaside towns. The tool, featured on PlaceTech this week, shows users how well towns and cities are bouncing back from the impact of the pandemic. Bournemouth, Southend and Brighton are seeing high footfall compared to inland rivals but it is Blackpool that is leading the charge on that metric and also in terms of average spend. The High Streets Recovery Tracker shows Blackpool is actually exceeding pre-lockdown performance, and with scenery like this (above) it is hardly surprising. 

Puddle Ducks 0821

Credit: Puddle Ducks

SWIM & SHOP…There’s a lot of chat these days about bringing other uses into shopping centres as demand for retail floorspace continues to fall, much of them based around “competitive socialising” – crazy golf, axe-throwing, darts-chucking and so on. How about a swimming pool though? Barons Quay in Northwich, which didn’t have the easiest of starts, has seen 3,300 sq ft let to children’s swim teaching group Puddle Ducks as the firm’s first permanent base. Further exciting news is coming soon from Barons Quay, we’re told. Watch this space…    

Swift Bricks, Bury,

Credit: Mike Sewell via Unsworth Sugden

SWIFT BRICKS…The word birdhouse conjures up images of small wooden boxes with circular orifices, nailed to trees. But a nifty bit of technology means that even homes built for human occupation can double up as birdhouses these days. Swift bricks allow our feathered friends to nest in the walls of houses. They are plastic – the bricks not the birds – and feature a small opening the leads to an in-built nest. They are designed to help boost the UK’s swift population, which plummeted by 53% between 1995 and 2016. Barratt Homes are among those using them and the housebuilder is in the process of installing swift bricks at its Waldmers Wood development in Bury. You may not have noticed swift bricks before but now you are aware of them you will start to see them on new-build homes everywhere – like when you bought that Ford Focus and suddenly everyone seemed to be driving one. 

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