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Manchester Redevelopment Debate

Published on January 5th 2006.

One of Manchester’s MPs has criticised the direction of the city’s redevelopment, rearing the old chestnut of development and regeneration across the city.

MP for Manchester Gorton, Sir Gerald Kaufman, has made the claim that the city would have been better following the example set by the Birmingham Brummies.

Birmingham has never been considered a development Mecca, but the likes of the Retunda development, the Bull Ring and Brindleyplace developments, have all increased the profile of the area.

Manchester has spotted the opportunity for redevelopment ever since the IRA bomb hit in 1996. The likes of Exchange Square and the Arndale have all received full scale make overs, while the Piccadilly area continues its regeneration apace.

But, while the regeneration has been noted by Sir Gerald Kaufman, the quality of it hasn’t been quite up to scratch. He said: “The redevelopment of Manchester has been reasonably good, but not marvellous.”

Kaufman claims that Manchester has rushed the opportunity that was handed to the city by the bomb by rushing to get the shops open.

“The city could and should have taken the opportunity to transform Manchester into a world-class, 21st century city. The bomb was obviously bad - but from a redevelopment point of view, it was a lost opportunity. While the area around St Ann's Square and Deansgate is not disagreeable, if you compare it with somewhere like Birmingham with that extremely exciting development around Selfridges, well, we've got nothing to touch that in Manchester.”

Whether Kaufman is taking an overtly centralised view though, is debatable. Looking from the Arndale to Deansgate to St Anns Square is all very well, there’s plenty more going on in Manchester to warm the hard hat of any developer.

The council’s Richard Leese has been quick to defend the city stating that his own claims that Manchester is well ahead in the development stakes are backed up by the likes of the Royal Town Planning Institute, the Royal Institute for Architects and the Commission for Architecture.

Whether Manchester has another ‘bull ring’ is debatable, but wouldn’t Mancunians say that that is part of Birmingham’s identity while Manchester is developing its own, including the likes of the Urbis?

But enough of what Kaufman and we may think, it’s more important that you air your views….you can do so below.

Tim Gough
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