VIDEO | Mapping the future for Greater Manchester

What is the role of GM’s towns and how can digital technology help engage communities in development? These were among topics debated at this roundtable hosted by VU.CITY.


  • Phil Hepworth, director at Aew Architects
  • James Hind, partner at SimpsonHaugh
  • David Magill, associate architect at Levitt Bernstein
  • Claire Locke, commercial director, VU.CITY
  • Andrew Bickerdike, director and head of planning for the North at Turley
  • Andrea George, director of town centre and consumer brands at Bruntwood Works
  • James Shuttleworth, head of planning at Salford City Council
  • Rodney Hunt, investment director at Property Alliance Group
  • Chaired by Paul Unger, publisher, Place North West

Key talking points

Many towns in Greater Manchester contain large shopping centres that are now out-dated and no longer fit for purpose. They are covered and closed barriers to movement around town centres but repositioning these sites for today’s market is costly and time-consuming.

Footfall in some destinations is higher than pre-Covid but there are more empty shops on the high street, suggesting there is latent demand for the right mix of operators.

Stockport has shown the way when it comes to transforming the fortunes of a town centre. Intervention by strong local authority leaders attracted private developers. Cool food and cultural offers have further helped the area gain momentum.

Using transparent digital technology tools can help residents and other stakeholders understand data and see the prospects for a place more clearly  than traditional methods. This drives engagement with emerging proposals and better decision-making by developers and planners.

Despite the difficult market for property generally, Manchester remains attractive to global investors, particularly in life sciences and student residential. Manchester is viewed as a tech city alongside Boston, Cambridge, and Oxford.

You can hear highlights from the roundtable in the video at the top of this article, as well as on the Place North West YouTube channel.

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