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The Co-operative Group's £800m regeneration scheme gets a name

Published on March 10th 2011.


This is the official statement.

The new district at the heart of one of Europe’s top twenty cities will be regenerated under the name NOMA. The £800 million project is set to transform 20 acres of Manchester City Centre’s heartland into a development like no other, providing 4m sq ft of office, retail, residential and leisure space.

We believe the name refers to Manchester’s 53 degrees North geographical location. Bless. And also that it’s in the north of the centre, thus North Manchester – NOMA see. Brilliant.

The scheme is being built on land owned and assembled by The Co-operative Group, the world's largest consumer co-operative, which today said it was initiating talks with possible joint venture partners about participation in the 10-15 year development programme.

The master planned scheme has approval from the city authorities and is already underway with the construction of The Co-operative Group’s 400,000 sq ft new head office building and combining the city’s recognised strengths in commerce, culture and community with the values and principles that set The Co-operative Group apart.’

Speaking at MIPIM, the major international property event held annually in Cannes, Martyn Hulme, Managing Director, The Co-operative Estates, said NOMA will take advantage of The Co-operative Group's unique land ownership in the city centre to deliver a regeneration project like no other.

“Manchester is a great place to live and work with an innovative commercial community; however, like most cities it has suffered disappointment as the downturn in the economy has affected many developments across the city. The Co-operative Group has the strength and capability to deliver NOMA and confirm Manchester’s position as the UK’s original modern city, and confirm its position in the European premier league of cities.

“NOMA will be a city district like no other. Firstly because it is rooted in Manchester - the UK’s second city and one that is growing in strength as a centre for key industries like media and financial services. Secondly, it has been built on a socially responsible vision which will encompass ethical business practice in the way in which it is built and operated, thanks in large part to the heritage and progressive approach of the Group,” Mr Hulme said.

“This commercially led scheme will offer (offices) to satisfy the needs of both large corporate occupiers and small and medium sized enterprises. Its retail and leisure offer will add to the variety already available in Manchester and be focused on independent, high quality businesses. Similarly, the residential component will widen the choice available in the city centre, with family housing a key part of the mix, NOMA will importantly be underpinned by the world's largest consumer co-operative.”Construction of the new landmark head office building for The Co-operative Group is well under way, with completion scheduled for September 2012. The next phase of development as part of NOMA will be improvements to nearby road and utilities networks and the first phase of the district’s public realm.

Mr Hulme said NOMA will firmly position Manchester as the first choice for business in the UK outside London, building on existing clusters of global head offices, media enterprises, professional and financial services.

NOMA will feature a number of environmental and social innovations: it will generate all of its own power, with a renewable energy centre providing for all of its needs through a smart grid; it will be integrated into the existing transport network, with tram, rail, bus and road connections all immediately adjacent to the site; NOMA will provide a reminder of the city's deeply established role as a place of global innovation.

NOMA: Why?

We should be proud of the Co-op Group. And we should be so pleased that we have this tip top business in the city. We should be proud that in this Big Society blither and horrible bank bonus times we have a company that continues to deliver in the centre of our region.

That’s the big news. EIGHT HUNDRED MILLION QUID investment. Grand.

But the big money coming shouldn't cloud the disappointment over the idiotic name it's been given - NOMA.

Sounds like Norma, not the most glam of monikers. In fact Monica would be better. As one of our readers, TBLZEBRA, commented: “Oh dear. I wonder if their sign will be 'amended' as many times as Canal Street? Nomark? Noman's land?”

The name, of course, originates from one of the most useless species of middle-men ever – city brand consultants. This particular lot are called Landor and are based in London. We believe the name refers to Manchester’s 53 degrees North geographical location. Bless. And also that it’s in the north of the centre, thus North Manchester – NOMA see. Brilliant. Although then really it should be NOCENMA – North Central Manchester.

Branding for products is one thing.

But for areas of cities then it’s a useless task unless referring to something tangible or solid on the ground. Usually an existing name. Cities aren’t products, they are living organisms, they are too important for the same logic of product branding to apply.

Thus Spinningfields refers to an old street in the name as does the more dubious New Islington - dubious because it also aims to feed off the back of a more famous Islington. The Northern Quarter works too because it satisfactorily defines an area not previously defined before but needing a tag to bring its recent identity together. Interestingly the trendies tag of N4, has remained in use only through older types who’ve been there for 20 years. Say it to an outsider and they’d struggle.

There are exceptions to the existing name rule when there was nothing there before: MediaCityUK is a good example.

But NOMA? What does it mean? Ostensibly nothing. Which is apparently how Landor want it. You know, enigmatic. Somewhere that in the near future people will say something like: "Hey Julian, let's go and visit that new wine-bar in NOMA, do a bit of gym there beforehand." These branding companies fail to see that 99% of the time a meaningless name will remain meaningless and then be forgotten. Nobody but loyal employees and on-message city agencies will ever use it

It’s not like there aren’t any alternatives. The development sits on Angel Meadow. This is a lovely name and perfect given the boost to Manchester’s economy of the development – guardian angels and all that. More importantly it already exists. Or maybe they could have gone with something to do with the Co-op’s history, something with pioneer in the title?

The good news is that NOMA could be quietly dropped over the next few years as the scheme is realised. It should. Landor probably did some verbal gymnastics with great graphics to justify the choice of NOMA and their lovely fee. Good on them, but NOMA shouldn’t be good enough for us. Or for the massive boost the Co-operative Group is delivering to the region.

In fact maybe we should re-start the McEnroe Group (i.e. 'You cannot be serious!'). This scuppered a silly 1990s Marketing Manchester slogan for the city, one that was beneath the dignity of the city. People power should be brought to bear on NOMA.

Follow Jonathan Schofield on twitter @JonathSchofield

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15 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Eddy Robert OwenMarch 10th 2011.

I cant help noticing the Grade II listed New Century Hall has disappeared in this plan. Shurely shome mishtake?

burt codeineMarch 10th 2011.

Not far removed from SOMA in San Francisco is it? Genius.
Spinningfields does seem to have caught on, but agree Angel Meadows would be far better - especially in a modern, urban context. Touch of the New York about it...and best of all, that name was free.

KschchevueMarch 10th 2011.

Nice picture of the development but what's happening with Victoria.

Smyth HarperMarch 11th 2011.

I don't think it's that bad... As Burt says it is reminiscent of Soma in San Francisco, and it's also like Soho in NYC and so on. Slightly poncey, but I think it could grow on us. Gives us a bit of international glamour. Angel Meadows makes me think of cows for some reason (and also nefarious activity that has been known to go on there between consenting adult men). What is rubbish is the derivation. 53degrees north manchester? Eh? Soma in SF comes from South of Market. Soho in NYC is South of Houston... Noma could be North of Market. Possibly... No?

user98858March 11th 2011.

Angel Meadows is a bit twee but infinitely better than Noma!!!

Ali McGowanMarch 11th 2011.

I think NOMA is a cool name!! Areas like TriBeCa in New York mean something - what's wrong with NOrth MAnchester? I quite like it and it's not trying too hard to be marketing bollocks. Keep it, I say. It's much more imaginative than the 'Oxford Road Corridor' or 'Southern Gateway'. They're boring as you like.

Daniel De La FlorMarch 11th 2011.

the only association Noma has with me is this: http://www.noma.dk/main.php?lang=en - the best restaurant in the world.

NOMA BatesMarch 15th 2011.

Will a motel be included in the development?

Noma JeanMarch 15th 2011.

Yes, we can call it Marilyns, like that dodgy place near Piccadilly

NOMA WisdomMarch 15th 2011.

Is this a wise decision?

Baron NOMA FosterMarch 15th 2011.

Can I help build it, please?.....

NOMA DMarch 15th 2011.

Will there be any tents?

NOMA N SLANDMarch 15th 2011.

Is it the area between the City and Out of Town??

John DonneMarch 15th 2011.

NOMA is an island. Apparently.

Jamie CroslandMay 4th 2011.

I'd heard talk of the 'The Co-opertive Quarter' being used and given the organisations history with the region and this site specifically I can't think anyone would have objected? Has anyone else seen the unfortunate connection between NOMA and a disease that affects the face? Let's not adopt the United States method of naming new places - they only came up with this very uninspiring system after they'd run out of place names in Europe they could spell!

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