Co-op Live is due to open soon. Credit: via Blakeney Group

THING OF THE WEEK

ARENA ROW… Just when you thought the war of words was over, the battle of Manchester’s two arenas has been stoked up again. During the planning process for the Co-op Live venue in Eastlands, ASM Global, operator of the AO Arena in the city centre, was an outspoken critic of the project. At the time, ASM claimed there simply was not enough demand for two large arenas and that Co-op Live could have a detrimental impact on Manchester’s city core. Fast forward a few years and Co-op Live is weeks away from opening with a jam-packed roster of events from Peter Kay to Bullet for My Valentine lined up. All it needs now is a license to function. Re-enter ASM, which this week objected to Co-op Live’s request for a licence, a move that is surely just delaying the inevitable.


Castle plumber Kevin Blane has played a key role in helping Muncaster become carbon zero.

Plumber Kevin knows the castle well. Credit: via Ten Stories

CASTLE HASSLE… Castles, often quite drafty places, are not known for their air tightness or energy efficiency. As such, making a castle net-zero in operation would be a challenging endeavour. But that is not going to stop Ewan Frost-Pennington, operations director at Muncaster Castle in Cumbria, giving it a good go.

He has been given a £20,000 grant from the Cumbria LEP to improve the castle’s energy systems to ensure a larger portion of the energy needed to heat the 800-year-old building comes from renewable sources. It is Frost-Pennington’s aim for Muncaster Castle to be the first net-zero building of its kind in the UK and he lavished praise on project plumber Kevin Blain for his work to make that dream a reality. He has been working on the building for 25 years and knows it well.

“Kevin has been quick to come on board with the new technology,” Frost-Pennington said. “Thanks to his skills, and our learning from a network of experts, our heat pump system warms three-quarters of the castle and provides warm water for visitors.”


Bacup Market , Rossendale Council, p Viva PR

Bacup Market is one of three in line for an overhaul. Credit: via Viva PR

MARKET MAYHEM… The success of Altrincham market and other similar venues means that this model is the go-to solution to a drab and lifeless town centre. There is not a regeneration strategy currently underway that does not feature a market as the fulcrum of a reimagined town centre. Places that never had a market are getting one while tired stalwarts are being given a lick of paint and a fresh perspective – fewer y-fronts and cheap socks and more flat whites and poached eggs. Rossendale is one borough very much subscribed to the theory that a modern market can bring prosperity. So that nobody is left out, over the next 12 months the people of Bacup, Haslingden, and Rawtenstall will all be given the gift of new markets.


REMEMBRANCE… A moment of solemnity, if you will. A Halewood hero is being remembered at Miller Homes’ 162-home development Wilbury Park. Knowsley Council has signed off the housebuilder’s plans for a memorial for a World War I veteran. The twist? This veteran had four legs – not two.

Blackie the war horse served in the 55th West Lancashire Division alongside his master wartime poet Lieutenant Leonard Comer Wall. Blackie survived the war, dying in 1942. The horse’s gravestone has since become grade two-listed and now it will have company – a wooden sculpture featuring Blackie alongside purple poppies. The sculpture will be eight metres away from the gravestone, helping signpost the resting place for those looking to pay their respects.


Stretford Mall , Bruntwood Trafford, p PNW

Beat Boxes will be placed around Stretford and Old Trafford. Credit: Place North West

BEAT THE STREET… The streets of Old Trafford and Stretford will be transformed into an immersive game in the name of exercise later this month. The Beat the Street game will take place in Trafford from 28 February to 27 March thanks to funding from Trafford Council, TfGM, and a National Lottery grant from Sport England.   

Beat the Street encourages people to get outside and to get active and is open to anyone of any age who would like to take part. The game works by turning the borough into a real-life game and residents will soon start to see special sensors called Beat Boxes appearing on lampposts around Stretford and Old Trafford.  

Players then walk, cycle or wheel between the Beat Boxes which are spaced half a mile apart – hovering special game cards over sensors as they go. The further players travel, the more points they score. 

Trafford Council Leader, Cllr Tom Ross, is excited to play. 

“We know that one of the best things people can do for their physical and mental health is to move more and to get out into green space where possible, and Beat the Street really helps people do just that in a fun and engaging way.  

“It’s free to take part in Beat the Street and it’s open to everyone regardless of age, ability or background. It’s an inclusive game that encourages you to exercise from your front door and to clock up the miles within the game framework.”   


All being well, the local plan could be adopted in 2026. Credit: via Place North West

PLANNING POLITICS… After pausing the process of creating its local plan while it waited for clarity on updates to the NPPF, Stockport Council has now set out a timeline for the adoption of a new spatial strategy. While the hiatus is over, this is likely only the beginning of the political wrangling to come. The big question at the moment is whether Stockport can build all of the homes it needs on brownfield sites without releasing any Green Belt. That is the aim of the council’s Lib Dem Leader Cllr Mark Hunter, one that the borough’s opposition Labour group says is unrealistic. The council has set a date of summer 2026 for the adoption of its local plan. That is surely plenty of time to iron out a few creases, right?  

Your Comments

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Manchester Arena looks awful and it should be knocked down and replaced with skyscrapers. They should just make coop the main concert venue in Manchester

By Mike

The Co-op Live is a transport disaster as it’s stuck way outside the city centre without a major train station nearby and also far away from all the city centre hotels and far away from any restaurants. and bars.

By Barbara Smith

Two areas that size is probably enough now.

By Anonymous

Agreed, the co-op is better located anyway

By Gilly

I’ve been to the Arena in the city centre twice since it opened. It was an awful experience and the new place looks like it’s going to be a much better place to experience a live event. Looking forward to someone I want to watch playing there!

By Mike

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