Tuesday, 12 January 2016


The draft proposal is woefully inadequate in that i) it devotes too much of its text to listing matters which have already come about or are well developed and little to a strategic vision for the city centre as a totality ii) it seems overly concerned with facilitating and promoting large scale developer-led projects which citizens are expected to welcome without hesitation and iii) it makes no mention of any resilience planning which, following recent flooding incidents on the Irwell is nothing short of property speculation induced folly.

The city needs a comprehensive and genuinely visionary plan which deals with the disjunctions between the various districts the draft report discusses largely in isolation from each other. It also needs a strategy which connects the city centre with its suburbs, physically, socially and economically. Developing a city requires a more sustainable basis than the inducing of a commercial property boom based on often fragile investment funds. The dismal quality of the public realm projects the draft strategy praises suggests no awareness of the many global initiatives to create successful urban places, falling back on security as a precondition of access to the public realm, an issue clearly connected to the increase in licensed premises which the strategy also reports uncritically, making no mention of any consequent anti-social issues.

Despite Manchester's continuing ability to generate good publicity, if this strategy is adopted unaltered, the underwhelming experience of new built environment projects will continue to puzzle and disappoint visitors and, more importantly, citizens, reducing aspirations and increasing alienation from the sort of civic values which should be fostered by our elected officials.

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