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The Death of King Street

Jonathan Schofield dreams of the future on a street stumbling into decay

Written by . Published on November 2nd 2009.


The Death of King Street

What happened to King Street?

Up until the nineties it was nick-named the ‘Bond Street of the North'. In 2009 a quarter of its shops are empty.

The walk from Deansgate to Cross Street starts badly with both the corner units empty and then gets worse as you progress. Looking into the empty units you see shutters half pulled down, mouldering piles of letters and the dust slowly settling.

Maybe we’re just seeing a cyclical shift in retail demographic. Maybe we just have to accept that the city centre simply can’t sustain the King Street of old. So what are the solutions? First of all it’s clear we have to wait it out. Put the big bad R word back in the naughty word bag.

So how did it come to this?

Confidential asked one of the principal letting agents on the street, Edwards and Co, what’s up. Partner Alun Jones has an office above the empty Jakes shoe shop on King Street. He outlined the key reasons for the current blight.

The first is, predictably, the recession. According to Jones: "There’s a general malaise in the retail sector. This is national and even international. Many shops are finding times tough and those who have the opportunity to do so are looking round for better deals."

The second ties into the first. As shops look for better deals, there’s aggressive marketing being directed at them. "Existing shopping centres and new retail developments, for example Manchester Arndale and Spinningfields, have been wooing existing retailers with rent-free periods and numerous incentives," says Jones. "It's easier, for example, for a shopping centre under single ownership, rather than a high street with several owners, to provide packages to attract nationally owned stores."

Then there’s King Street’s character change which began a decade ago. The ill-advised move from top end stores to middle market has now come home to roost, with the latter being the principal stores to up sticks and run when times get hard. Indeed, top ‘name’ shops such as Jaeger, Hermes, Mulberry, Watches of Switzerland and so on “have chosen to stay and some are keen to extend their lease,” according to Alun Jones. Maybe King Street needs to fill those empty units with quality again.

There’s another problem specific to older properties, many of which are listed for architectural merit.

“On occasion,” says Jones, “listed buildings have been subject to not only preservation but restoration clauses. In this way national agencies are trying to hang building restoration on tenants moving into properties. Preservation is one thing but should the tenants be asked to actively restore buildings? We have lost lettings on King Street because of this tactic and its cost implications.”

Then there are the rents. There’s a perception across the city that King Street’s rentals are way too high for the present market-place and that absentee landlords are simply refusing to give ground on these.

At last, Jones, has some good-ish news: "Rents were a problem but we are moving on this," he says, "reducing them significantly or at least keeping them at the same level. Many places have had the same rental rates for eight or nine years. We realise that rents have to be sustainable for the retailer, and in some instances rental rates have dipped substantially. For example there is one unit on the street which has fallen from £165,000 per year to £120,000.”

Yet it would seem that the earlier factors described here are still preventing the units from being filled despite the cheaper rents.

All in all Jones doesn’t offer much hope for the short term future of King Street as the glamour location of Manchester retail. “I’m staying positive about it and it hurts me to see it this way," he says. "There will be improvement as the economy improves but I don’t think such improvement lies around the corner. We’re a way off yet.”

Confidential also talked to Cityco, the City sponsored, city centre management company. Kate Harrison, the boss there, agreed with the points made by Alun Jones, also pointing out the expansion of Manchester city centre’s retail with the huge Arndale North development and the growth of retail along New Cathedral Street.

And maybe that’s part of the problem. Maybe we’re just being unduly sentimental about King Street.

I, for instance, don’t remember Oldham Street in its heyday in the first sixty years of the twentieth century. Apparently, it had stores such as Afflecks and Brown, which were our Harvey Nichols of the day. In fact the notion that it could ever have been a high-end shopping street viewed from the prism of 2009, seems absurd. Maybe we’re just seeing a cyclical shift in retail demographic with the decline of King Street. Maybe we just have to accept that the city centre simply can’t sustain the street we once knew.

We'll only know if this is the case when the big bad 'Recession' word has been put back in the naughty word bag. And beyond that.....?

Well, Confidential wonders if putting pressure on landlords to fill their hard-to-let stores with attractive independent retailers on easy rents such as Eternal Envy in Heaton Mersey or Rags to Bitches in the Northern Quarter might be a solution. This would surely give such a boost to King Street that it wouldn't look back for twenty years?

Alun Jones reluctantly pours cold water over the idea. “King Street has never been a seeding ground for smart independent boutiques,” he says. “The rents have always been too much for them, and even with the current reductions, remain so. As do the rates. They might get the footfall but they won’t be able to afford the other costs. More importantly the big landowners love the fifteen year, triple A covenant: in other words the big national stores that are more likely to give a return on investment. And the landowners will hold out until they find one, often no matter how long it takes.”

Confidential likes to dream however, and there is a model for what can be done with 'seeding' in the Barton Arcade and St Ann's Arcade. If they can be brightened by independents, why not King Street? Surely it just takes an act of will.

We have a couple of other recurring dreams as well. There have been plain bad developments on King Street. The beautiful Georgian town house formerly let to Virgin Brides is a case in point. This dates from the 1730s and is a disaster of a combo piece with some tacky 1990s additions. The house was formerly a bank and like so many old banks its future might lie in becoming a restaurant. Two floors of snappy life enhancing upper middle range dining like Grill on the Alley round the corner would do the trick, and help liven up the street, and in turn, help attract retailers.

We’re also thinking that pedestrianisation should be given up after 7pm – as it is on Cross Street. Presently after 7pm King Street is a lifeless cut through.

So put all together, this is our vision for King Street. A lively, attractive retail corridor of classic national stores mixed with good Manchester independents plus a decent restaurant and traffic animating the area in the evening - helping provide custom for the restaurant. This may be pure fantasy, but it's better than the bleak reality.

What all parties - the City Council, Cityco, MIDAS, the landlords - agree is that the King has lost its crown, and that something needs to be done. Unfortunately there seems to be no timeframe for banging heads together and coming up with ideas. The Trafford Centre must be laughing its marble veneered head off as the city prevaricates.

We should perhaps dismiss the lofty notion of the street ever being the 'Bond Street of the North' again. In fact you have to wonder whether it’ll get worse before it gets better, after all empty units are like a virus that quickly spreads?

It seems King Street may be a gap-toothed beauty for a while yet.

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

Get rid of permanent pedestrianisationNovember 2nd 2009.

Pedestrianisation might not be a cause but it may help to 'reboot' King Street if it were to be removed after 7pm manner suggested. Then is may help to make people feel more secure as traffic obviously controlled at maube a maximum of 20 miles an hour use the street. This would also aid traffic circulation around the city.

DarrenNovember 2nd 2009.

Most of these buildings are probably not rented because people are too scared to even go and ask for a price on the building because they know they'll have to talk to some seedy sales rep that will try and get them to sign a massive contract that if it doesn't work out could lead to the company going bankrupt. There is so much of this around. I run my own business and would be really put off seeing a To Let sign on a building with no guide price as I'd be thinking they're going to want a lot of money for that, and to find out how much they want I'm going to have to go and phone them up and be nearly bullied into buying by some jumped up little sales exec, or even worse they're going to take my phone number so they can harass me every five minutes until I buy something from them.

simplesolutionsNovember 2nd 2009.

the only ones to blame for the death of king street or any part of the city centre for that fact is tricky dicky leese and all his council cronies by over inflating the cost of on street parking,and allowing over zealous parking attendants to roam the city streets like the packs of wolves they are booking cars one minute over their ticket time, they've had it all too good for too long, the sooner town dies altogether the better, thats why shoppers like me prefer the trafford centre, free parking, gr8 selection of shops all under one roof, thats why tricky dicky lost the plot on the congestion charge referendum, he thought he could just walk it thru and we wouldnt do a tap about it but he got the wake up call of his life?for my money i think we need a change of people running the city council. that way inviting people back into the city centre to spend their hard earned nelson eddies.its time to release the leese and put him out to pasture.

scoteeeNovember 2nd 2009.

chick just out of interest how much do you pay per sft?

anneNovember 2nd 2009.

..and how come the Royal Exchange shopping centre never re-opened??

John EvansNovember 2nd 2009.

Even though many of the shops are open later in the evening I am put off coming into the city centre due to the lack of spaces and more importantly the cost of parking in the city centre. I appreciate after 6pm some spaces are free but many of the spaces are now 24hours charging.

A RealistNovember 2nd 2009.

I wanted a unit on King Street 6 years ago, there was one that had been empty of ove a year, the price they wanted was crazy so I left it. A year later it was still empty so gave the agents a call, the price hadn't dropped, another year passed and it was still empty and even though I foudn another unit I was curious so I gave them a call and the price had come down a poultry £2k, after 6 years it is still empty and now I wouldn't open up there if it was half the price. King Street has died because of the greed of the agents and the stupidity of the landlords.

ChickNovember 2nd 2009.

Richard Nash, precisely. It's a disgrace and why every high street in every town and city in the UK, all lthe same. Given the rent increases in the Northern Quarter, some bars and restaurants being hit too, I hope this area strives to maintain its individuality. Now, I'm off to Starbucks.....

Private&ConfidentialNovember 2nd 2009.

Cross Street may have traffic (a natural function of having a road, surely) but as King Street there are few pedestrians, few shops and little activity in the evening. Im not saying pedestrianisation is always positive, merely that the article is barking up the wrong tree in terms of identifying this as one of the causes of King Street's current malaise.

CasNovember 2nd 2009.

Only thing with serviced is it never really feels like your office and be careful of the astonishing telephone bills!

ChickNovember 2nd 2009.

I agree with Cas. My rent is very reasonable for the city but then again, I have a private landlord. Rates, over £1000 a month and due to rise and the small business rates allowance is calculated against turnover, not square footage. Greedy beggers MCR. I also pay extra for bins to be emptied by a private company and extra for the police to monitor the alarm.

Jonathan Schofield - editorNovember 2nd 2009.

We'll be looking at the proposed rates for Northern Quarter businesses with their unfeasible leap in the next week or two. If any of the businesses want to send me a comment or quote on jonathans@planetconfidential.co.uk about that situation that would be grand.

ADNovember 2nd 2009.

Richard Nash, many of those greedy landlords will be the pension schemes of ordinary working folk, with lower rents they would retire poorer.

NJEBNovember 2nd 2009.

great article JS- have been perusing this phenomena me'sen as I make the mighty leap between Kendals and t'Arndale. Mixed use is surely the answer- I despair at the lack of decent cafes or, restaurants, in Manch in general- or any kind of cohesive area in the city centre where one might go and know there would be decent fare on offer- round Kings St all the eating is in the back streets - time for the restaurant trade to come out of the shadows and onto the ( pedestrianised) street ...

ToriterNovember 2nd 2009.

Cross Street is not dead at all at night. Because taxis, cars and buses move up and down it, it feels that it still has 'eyes' and activity. It feels safer than Market Street or the pedestrianised part of King Street. Use the city at night and you will see this clearly.

emma graceNovember 2nd 2009.

It would be lovely if it was full of restaurants, with lots of outdoor lighting and seating areas.

ChickNovember 2nd 2009.

scoteee, are are asking about rent or rates?

Another potentil tenantNovember 2nd 2009.

A Realist shares my experience of trying to rent a unit on King St.We couldn't do a deal on the rent on a long-empty shop and it's still empty today. Absolutely incredibly stupid landlords who employ moronic letting agents to advise them badly.I don't buy the 'waiting for a AAA tenant' theory. What chance is there a AAA tenant wanting to rent a shop on a deserted street? None. Like 'A Realist' I wouldn't rent a shop on King St right now if the rent were 50% of the asking price. Not even if it were 10% to be honest. In retailing the 3 most important requirements for success are location, location, location and King St fulfils none of those requirements. It's a real shame too.

scoteeeNovember 2nd 2009.

I'm sorry i was rushing i meant 24 month leases

CasNovember 2nd 2009.

We have an option to make it 10 should we choose to. Having had both I can honestly say we prefer the conventional lease, if I wanted to paint a wall violet then I could. If I wanted to put a partition in then I could, which is something we're looking at doing so yes it does feel like our own. The cost per sq ft of a serviced office is higher and only really makes financial space if you fill it. Our office is over 2000 sq ft but it isn't anywhere near full, the space is open plan with sofa seating areas etc. In business half the battle is getting and keeping the right people and a nice working environment helps that.

CasNovember 2nd 2009.

ManCon, can you do something about this stalker I have on here. I haven't commented on anything for 3-4 days and I make one comment and within 5 minutes they are there!

StephanieNovember 2nd 2009.

Sorry to return to an old topic but has anyone else noticed that the Ryland Puddle is back - with a vengeance!

NickNovember 2nd 2009.

I agree with the article. King Streets demise is down to a catalogue of events, landlords over compensating to manage their toxic assets, the introduction of middle tear retailers and the general seemingly lack of focus on one of the Norths once loved streets. Owning an independent business in St Ann's Arcade we have tried very hard to drive quality and service throughout all the businesses in the arcade - we work hard together to try and make the customer experience a very special one and that is a combined effort between all of us. Maybe there should be special assistance to keep the independent dream alive in Manchester - a bit like how the City of Westminster view Savile Row and Jermyn Street, not just milking the multiples. King Street at the moment is a ghost town. We get alot of referals from companies residing on King Street and I was in last week to chat to these retailers and not one customer appeared in these shops - it was quite chilling.

go servicedNovember 2nd 2009.

I appreciate your honesty,Regus for example would fit right in to that perception,However some companies might well look at more flexible options to fill the void between the conventional and serviced perception.We have all had to adapt to fill our spaces and I can tell you that the serviced solution in Manchester at the moment is hugely reduced in price and offers far more flexibility.This is why the worlds largest serviced operator is currrently giving away it's Manchester proposition.Nice talking with you.

Private&ConfidentialNovember 2nd 2009.

I don't agree that reintroducing traffic to the street will improve its viability. You would be throwing away the vast improvement in public realm for negligible gain in activity; After all, Cross Street is as dead as King Street after dark. Market Street is aflicted by its poor east-west connections, the privatisation of a large part of the city within the walls of the Arndale and the oppresive and anti-human scale architecture of the Arndale Centre itself which are much greater issues than pedestrianisation. King Street suffers none of this. Its stock of fine buildings effect a rich and supremely human experience and its reasonably well connected. I agree that both streets would benefit from a richer mix of uses however.

BeccaNovember 2nd 2009.

Cas, can I work in your office? It sounds much nicer than mine :(

Will get worse before it gets better...November 2nd 2009.

King Street is in decline and it will continue that way for the forseeable future. Some of the retailers that are managing to survive there will struggle through the next year and ultimately will have to close. All this will simply lead to King Street becoming a normal shopping street like any other. That is of course unless the landlords have all agreed that they will only take upmarket tenants, but if a generic high street retailer come along the landlord's will struggle to say no. This means that although King Street will eventually come out of it's current decline, it will be very difficult to make it back to the King Street of old.

go servicedNovember 2nd 2009.

Cas-you say it never feels like your office? You are 2 years in to a 5 year lease? How does that work then? Are you saying your current leased property feels like your own? Is that more important to you that the needs of the business? Just asking, not being rude:@)

scoteeeNovember 2nd 2009.

AD, something is better than nothing right? why do the lanlords not offer 24 lease instead of 10-15 years leases and remove the need for long drawn out challenges such as the huge legal fees and comissions paid to the commercial property agents.It's very simple really, if you want to maintain your pension offer short term solutions in a short term recessive economy.then go back to basics when the economical dust has settled.leaving property empty in order to attract the right deal is bad business for all of us.

Peanut headNovember 2nd 2009.

Scoteee that is SO true about the wobbly pavements ha ha! Walking down from Piccadilly to work is a minefield of wobbly paving slabs!

CasNovember 2nd 2009.

We had a health and safety visit last week and were told off as they didn't think the glass desks (habitat so not dodgy) were safe enough. We argued the point and then were told off about wires, which we've obviously had to tape up to within an inch of their lives now. I went to Red Chilli last night and was again appalled by the rubbish down those alleys that restaurants just throw out for the rats, just made me think that was more a health and safety issue than my glass desks. The council are not the worst but they certainly could be better.

PurcellNovember 2nd 2009.

Anonymous, what a horrible vision of the future. Everybody living atomised lives and never meeting each other. Thank God I don't live in that haunted cave with you. Put indies on King Street and give it some character.

RICHARD NASHNovember 2nd 2009.

Overpriced rents and rates from greedy landlords and the city council have led to the exodus of overpriced shops owned by greedy retailers selling very cheap imported goods from the 3rd world at outrageous prices ! goodridance to them all , lets hope some of the citys glitzy overpriced bars shut next, and then we will see real sharp cuts in retail outlet rents allowing some decent retailers to move in !

Local HeroNovember 2nd 2009.

Can someone tell me what rent and rate increases have occurred in the NQ? I have seen a lot of vacant units there lately. Seems a strange time to introduce increases, given how much small businesses are struggling.

CasNovember 2nd 2009.

I think what they should do with King Street is have verandas built along the shops so people can walk down there when it's raining, it would also look great if done correctly and give the opportunity for a couple of cafe bars with outside heated seating. I have probably not explained that weel but I've seen it in other places and it works.

kershanNovember 2nd 2009.

... Oh, and by the way, anyone who's been to the Trafford Centre recently will probably have noticed retailers aren't exactly queueing up to fill the vacant units.

KershanNovember 2nd 2009.

Surely the attraction of King Street is BECAUSE it is expensive/exculsive? If it did go downmarket and attract more mainstream retailers and (heaven forbid) temporary art displays, it would be indistinguishable from every other street in the city. If the council and landlords aren't prepared to make counter-offers to tenants who have been lured elsewhere, even just to see out the credit crunch (I'm sure much of what if purchased up KS is on credit), then they are probably making a big mistake. But it does seem that Manchester Council is determined to grab as much cash as possible with scant regard to the long-term success of the popularity of the city, as is evidenced by the trigger-happy parking attendants punishing anyone who stops there for a minute past their meter.

Simon TNovember 2nd 2009.

It seems too obvious a point to make; but maybe we just had too many shops in Britain. The boom in retail was part of the bubble and the bubble has burst. Empty spaces in every high street in every city, and at the Trafford Centre as well. Maybe it's partly economics (too many shops, not enough cash or credit to but the stuff that's in them) or maybe it's a slight shift in the culture. I find it very hard to mourn the death of the Starbucks on the King Street, Deansgate corner. Maybe people have found better things to do than buy stuff they don't really need and drink coffee that doesn't really taste of coffee? None of this is much comfort to people who want King Street to be thriving, but retail is all over the city and if there's oversupply it stands to reason that it can't all be thriving all of the time.

AnonymousNovember 2nd 2009.

King Streets our first local casualty, but it is happening world wide. Why would you want to walk around a cold city centre when you can save money, and time, and drink tea, whilst shopping online?

DescartesNovember 2nd 2009.

Cas, I hope you're not suggesting that the council aren't helping local businesses in a time of recession? ;)

BemusedNovember 2nd 2009.

This lack of flexibility from councils is a general trend around the UK for sure, but we do seem particularly overzealous in Manchester when it comes to things like issuing parking tickets and the like.The rent issue however will always be a cyclical thing as long as the supply exceeds demand, and with new 'destinations' popping up every couple of years there will always be places which have factored in extremely low rents for the first couple of years to attact tenants quicky. Spinningfields for example seems to be that flavour of the moment. Why is that so often 'regeneration' means expanding the outer city limits, which subsequently leads to empty units in previously prime locations? These areas then can become run down themselves as a result of the geographic shift and end up being 'regenerated' themselves.Spinningfields has attracted many of the bigg banks for example, each who have up and left other city centre locations - many of which now lay vacant. The planning sense in the decision to allow such developments seems ill thought out, in contrast to 'regenerating' the Piccadilly area which really did need it and brought new business from the Bank of New York and more recently government agencies previously located in London etc.Planning decisions surely should consider whether demand is sufficient or whether we should simply be making the currently occupied areas better.Sorry, I'm going on a bit so will draw the line here....

AnonymousNovember 2nd 2009.

Obviously the piece was about KingStreet South but has developed sensibly into a discussion about shopping.But why only Manchester. Why are Leeds and Liverpool so different in providing secondary shops of all sorts. And what about London centres. Can anything be learnt from them.

DrakeNovember 2nd 2009.

Given that some of the independent creatives in the NQ have just been given 550% rate increases, I'm not sure the city has ANY space for them, never mind space in its most prestigious address (Excellent article btw)

Jonathan SchofieldNovember 2nd 2009.

Jinkies I'm a tour guide as well as editor on this fair site. On evening tours I avoid Market Street because without people or traffic it looks a dump, pure and simple. King Street, especially now it has so many empty units, is not as overbearingly threatening but I don't want to take nice people from Scandinavia (for instance) through it after 7pm as it looks a mess and it feels lifeless. We are used as a society to varied street movement whether that be through horse and carriages in the past or motor vehicles. Pedestrianisation only works when there are pedestrians. Without pedestrians it looks desolate. Anyway we're going to do a full article questioning whether 24 hour pedestrianisation has had its day putting both sides of the argument.

Ali McGowanNovember 2nd 2009.

I hate traffic noise and traffic fumes... ban all traffic from city centre, pedestrianise Deansgate and bring back all the street trams. Oh. None of that would work. D'oh!!!! PS: the final piece of the Arndale is one of the better shopping centres I have been in. Clean, modern, light, airy, simple. (The older bits of the Arndale are very average). Compare though the new part of the Arndale with the horrid, fake, pastiche Traffic Centre, Meadowhall, or almost any other large minging shopping centre - and I think we got off lightly. Now, in terms of killing the city centre off... it's of course a shame the Arndale was ever built... but it's here now, so maybe the time is right for King Street to become a new type of street - not just shops, but more mixed use... but it would have to have a very good offering in order to attract a crowd (and not too many Deansgate tossers).

RagstoBitchesNovember 2nd 2009.

Thanks for the suggestion Jonathan..We've often made enquiries about other properties as footfall in NQ can be somewhat erratic,especially in bad weather. However, not only do we love the NQ but the rents and rates beyond our immediate streets are nonsensical. It's possible that for all of Manchester's various city centre areas to flourish the city needs another 100,000 population. The suucess of the Arndale has caused the city centre to tilt east and there just aren't enough people to go around all the businesses. And Manchester is a very hard nosed capitalist city, with very little room for sentiment.

TedstocktonNovember 2nd 2009.

The city centre is undoubtedly declining overall in retail popularity. I have been to Manchester for the last 2 weekends for shopping from Marple. The city council need to recognise that their anti motorist & parking policies of the last 20 years are coming home to roost. I personally can drive around the city ( experience gained as years of taxi driving ) but recognise that many potentail shoppers from outside feel intimidated by the road system and the constant thraet of a parking fine. Once upon a time it was possible to plan a pleasant Saturday by driving in say at 11.30 paying for an hours parking and feel reaasured that the afternoon parking was free. MCC in their wisdom changed that some years ago and now parking bays lie as empty as shops on a saturday afternoon. No parking revenue and lower takings for the retailers. That could be sorted out on Monday morning !!!

suzy aNovember 2nd 2009.

Anyone thought that maybe opening the shops later might encourage people? The reason many people choose to go to the Trafford Centre is the free parking and late night opening. There are some shops on King Street that consider late night opening 6pm! They should pick up some trade though once the Christmas markets open.

Cool KidNovember 2nd 2009.

Down with King Street, glitz, glamour and designer clothes... instead I scour racks and racks of jumble in a tiny basement shop in a piss filled back alley off Oldham Street to buy loads of vintage items for a total of £7. Then I wear them all together with something that I customised myself in my parents summer house. I look like a cross between Nathan Barley and my dead gran. I look great when I go round the NQ don't I.

mark mNovember 2nd 2009.

i actually thought that you could drive up it at night. bollards go up at 10 in the morn and are down at night? mayne i am mistaken

go servicedNovember 2nd 2009.

Oh, you should talk to me Cas I can fix all that for you :@).

AnonymousNovember 2nd 2009.

Cas how much would it cost to rent a space dedicated just to your Man Con career? Maybe you could use an assistant to help keep you abreast of all the latest rants?

Private&ConfidentialNovember 2nd 2009.

Great article. The common denominator in the demise of both Oldham Street in the 70s and King Street over recent years would appear to be The Arndale Centre (surely one of Manchester's greatest planning folleys). The centre's scale, its insular and fortress like nature, privatised and poorly connected to the city's streets seems to have had the effect of both sucking up and retaining footfall within its walls to the great detriment of other parts of the city centre. Now, the planners could be forgiven for failing to recognise these flaws when the Arndale was first proposed. After all, back then it offered something uniquely modern and different to the traditional high street. They could even be forgiven for forsaking quality in the interests of expediency in the wake of the IRA bomb and the threat of Dumplington Precinct (Trafford Centre) in its 90s refurbishment. However the most recent extension, as inward looking, oversized, bland and poorly connected as the original, in my view, was a terrible oversight, particularly when most other city centre shopping developments of recent times have been developed by celebrating the very thing that sets the location apart from out of town malls: the public street. Instead, what was hailed as the "final piece of the jigsaw" in the redevelopment of the city's shopping core is nothing but a miserable, dated, trojan horse - undermiming the viability of the rest of the centre and the experience of the city.

CasNovember 2nd 2009.

I'm 2 years into a 5 year, serviced offices are brilliant for some people though. I'm certainly not knocking them, I don't know how I'd have started without them!

LeeNovember 2nd 2009.

I dont buy the whole "restoration costs" stance, these buildings have been listed for decades, and most of which have been altered/restored for retail use in the interveaning years, i wouldnt have thought there were any cost in this anymore

roseNovember 2nd 2009.

only ostriches think that old traditional shopping will return...run down city centres are a worldwide phenomenon...maybe people need to dine out, party in, socilaise more? that way they will need the fancy clothes, furniture, tableware etc that the old high-end shops used to provide...but todays slop around over sloppy fast food does not need an expensive lifestyle...

go servicedNovember 2nd 2009.

if youre in a conventional lease for office space you really need to be looking at serviced offices they are all inclusive of rates utilities cleaning etc etc...far by far cheaper and much more flexible in this climate.just be careful which serviced office provider you choose

CasNovember 2nd 2009.

Becca, I forgot to put the bit in about me being a tyrant! Nah, it's a nice office, I was sick of those bloody blue carpeted suspended ceiling things.

ADNovember 2nd 2009.

Scoteee, you would have to ask the letting agents! But I would imagine that if you give a cheep 24 month lease out and 3 months latter next or smiths or some other big retailer comes looking for a unit and you dont have one to give them then they'll just go to a rival. So they are better of leaving units empty waiting for the big pay day to come along.

scoteeeNovember 2nd 2009.

There is one benefit of walking down King street,it seems to be the only stretch of road where the pavement slabs don't fu*ing wobble sending pints of water up one's trouser leg just because it rains!!! Grrrrr....

A RealistNovember 2nd 2009.

The bottom end of Deansgate between the Hilton Hotel and Sainsburys, is going the same way as King Street. They used to have independants in there but the high rents forced them out and that one block has 7 estate agents on it. It's also reached the tipping point in my opinion.

CasNovember 2nd 2009.

It's the rates that do for people. There are amazing rent offers abound at the moment but the rates just won't budge. I pay just short of a grand a month in rates - on an office?! These shops have to pay a lot more. Then you have to pay for your bloody bin bags to be collected seperately!

Belle LNovember 2nd 2009.

GREAT ARTICLE - JUST GREAT and so true!!!

^.^November 2nd 2009.

RICHARD NASH I'm pretty sure central Government set Business Rates. Local Gov collects them

Rory McLoughlinApril 19th 2010.

I visted King Street for the first time in a while and was shocked at the state of this once elegant street. When you consider the subject of this thread with others such as the demise of Le Petit Blanc restaurant there is a common causal factor - the relative absence of the wealthier 'ABC1' resident and consumer from Manchester City Centre. Manchester has never really had a solution to attracting back the middle-classes who left the city in the mid-19th Century. They now come here only to work and will shop here if the environment is attractive and convenient enough. There is a particular problem at night in central Manchester - very few shops open, very few cafe/bistro places open, expensive parking, and streets either deserted or thronged with young roudy binge-drinkers. The city council still does not seem to understand the needs of the more sophisticated consumer and potential resident - they are not 24hr party people. Stretching the subject now, but the problem extends to the lack of pleasant open spaces in which to stroll around when shopping or just visiting the centre. Opportunities to improve this have been passed over on countless occasions, most notably in the post-IRA bomb plans and the recent destruction of trees near Victoria Station.

Mark MottramApril 19th 2010.

I think there are some quite good open spaces, as defined in the port IRA bomb plans http://www.rudi.net/node/17478 . If you think the demise of Petit Blanc is down to the absence of 'ABC1', think again. It was just a poor restaurant. Plenty of good restaurants thrive in the city centre.

Rory McLoughlinApril 19th 2010.

Mark, I'd be interested to know what you think are 'pleasant' open spaces to stroll or loiter. No parks, Exchange Square ruined by that stupid TV screen, Cathedral Gardens can be lively at weekends but dominated by teenagers and skateboarders, dead in the evening. Lovely trees at Walkers Croft next to Chethams School just bulldozed to make way for new building, and the opportunity to open up a riverside green strip and promenade was almost totally ignored in 1996 redevelopment plans. Piccadilly Gardens is a horrible space with next to no greenery, and pathetic fountains which hardly ever work. A large part of this public space was robbed to build the mediocre No.1 Piccadilly which shades sunlight from the 'square'. Poor, Poor, Poor.

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