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SLEUTH: Life At Leftbank | English Heritage's Wrong Call | Engels' Beard Climbing Walk

Wk 49: life, love, warts, fights and beards

Written by . Published on November 28th 2014.


SLEUTH: Life At Leftbank | English Heritage's Wrong Call | Engels' Beard Climbing Walk

SleuthSleuthSleuth is a sideways glance at the city every week, it's the truth, but Sleuth's truth. He's several people all at once. We give £25 for every story/rumour and piece of absurdity you find for us to publish. Sleuth sometimes even gets serious. We ask for the money back if any legal action follows. Follow Sleuth on twitter @mcrsleuth

LIFE FOR LEFTBANK

Leftbank has been the sorry end of Spinningfields for some time now. Deceased and empty units, overpriced flats and those god awful coloured face panels. Yuk.

But Leftbank is bubbling back to life. Sleuth's received word this week of two new restaurants making moves on Leftbank; three weeks ago Sleuth announced that MediaCityUK's popular Dockyard bar will take up the empty former Cafe Rouge unit in Leftbank; 'Spinningfields Kitchens' will give six small-time food vendors a crack at the restaurant game in some of the empty units this summer; and there's currently workers knocking up the ten-storey Cotton Building opposite RBS which promises 30,000 sq ft of space designed for public amenity including leisure facilities, a bike park and a climbing wall

Speaking of climbing walls...

Empty Leftbank soon to have lifeEmpty Leftbank soon to have life

MOUNTING A MAN'S BEARD TO GET FIT

NQ bar application picNQ bar application picFriday 28 November is Black Friday in which people go mad and buy crap they don’t want. It’s also the 193rd birthday of Friedrich Engels, the chief prophet, with Karl Marx, of Communism and man who lived for 22 years in Manchester. They probably wouldn't have applauded Consumer Hell Friday. There’s a tour about Engels this evening that ends in a pub singing Happy Birthday to him. Even more curiously there’s a climbing wall at Salford University on its way, styled on Engels’ not inconsiderable beard and craggy features - click here. Given the voguish nature of beards at present Sleuth heartily approves, although getting supple and fit by mounting a dead man’s facial hair is curious.

Get on that beardGet on that beard

ENGLISH HERITAGE'S CHANGE OF MIND 

Sleuth’s been following the inquiry into the Library Walk public right of way story with interest. As this story shows - click here. Sleuth’s been reading the Freedom of Information Act material concerning the correspondence between Manchester City Council and English Heritage's NW office, who needed to grant permission for the wart-building (aka Sir Richard Leese’s Folly) to be erected between two listed buildings, the Town Hall Extension and Central Library.

There’s going to be a deeper article on this next week but it reveals English Heritage were against the building of the glazed link and the blocking of Library Walk on heritage grounds but then later changed their position accepting the business case put by Manchester City Council - which many witnesses to the Inquiry have just picked big gaping holes in.

The message seems to be use your muscle, keep on and on about emotive issues such as disabled access and mothers with prams and legitimate heritage concerns and the maintenance of public rights of way will fly out of the window under Council pressure. Of course, as it stands now - before wart-building opens - there is superb access for all citizens between and into both buildings, so, once again, why has this £3.5m waste of money been visited on us?

Failure of judgementFailure of judgement - the wart-building

ENGLISH HERITAGE'S LONDON ROAD FIRE STATION SHAME

Until the inspector reports back on the result of the Library Walk Inquiry we don’t know what the outcome maybe for wart-building but we do know this is the second time English Heritage failed with a judgement call. In 2011 they supported Britannia Hotels in getting a CPO thrown out having received promises that Britannia Hotels would imminently start work on London Road Fire Station and convert it to a hotel. The promises were broken and the boss of English Heritage sent this letter (click here) to the company. It was a slap on the wrist for Alex Langsam, boss of Britannia Hotels, and egg on the face for English Heritage. Now we’re back in the same pickle for the three decades neglected building as recent history has shown.

London Road Fire StationLondon Road Fire Station

A NEW CIVIC SOCIETY?

Following the public campaigns by Morag Rose and the Friends of Library Walk and Adam Prince of Friends of London Road Fire Station, several commentators in the city are calling for a more permanent non-council or business affiliated action group to monitor policy decisions made deviously (as Library Walk was) or seem counter to any common sense (as Library Walk is) or to campaign for action against behemoths such as Britannia Hotels Group. Shame that Manchester Civic Society, which started off with such promise a decade or more ago, has committed hari-kari through incompetent leadership (what have they been up to during these important campaigns?) and become utterly pointless. Manchester Civic Society’s time has come and gone. Sleuth agrees that it’s time for a new body with a new name to monitor decisions from a citizen’s point of view. Any suggestions for a title?

BEER FESTIVALS AND RATS

Sleuth overheard this pub conversation between three men. “I was at a beer festival in Grasmere the other day.” “Really, I was at a beer festival in a Manchester pub at the same time.” “And I was at one in Derbyshire.” “That’s the thing with beer festivals now, they’re like rats.” “Eh?” “You’re never more than ten metres from one.”

CHAINS FOR KRO

As Sleuth expected, two much-needed chains have been announced for the recently expired KRO bar on Piccadilly Gardens. The city's third Byron Burger and ASK, an Italian chain restaurant. Burgers and Italian food. Thank God for that...

Kro, Piccadilly GardensKro, Piccadilly Gardens

CHAIR MEN

Sleuth was at the Pot Kettle Black bash last night with St Helen's rugby boys, Jon Wilkin and Mark Flanagan, who've sparked a bit of life into Deansgate's Barton Arcade with their handsome new coffee house. The pals were celebrating the success of their opening few months and the gaining of a booze licence (nearly). PKB will now be opening a bit later and hosting live music nights – tonight (Fri 28 Nov) they’ve got someone in playing from The Gramotones (see here @PKBcoffee). Sleuth is pleased for Wilkin and Flanagan, after telling Sleuth ‘they need something other than rugby to fall back on’, the boys have worked hard to get this place buzzing.

Still, as mighty as these Rugby chaps may look, mention a mouse and they’re up on their chairs faster than an eighteenth century kitchen maid (there was no mouse, Sleuth made it up for a laugh)…

Flanagan and Wilkin: scared of mice"Has it gone yet?"

BEZ NEWS

And in this week's Bez News, having watched 4OD's online series, 24 Hour Party Politics, in which Bez runs for MP of Salford, entertainment and media website Digitalspy.co.uk have published nine reasons why they think Mark 'Bez' Berry should make it all the way to Downing Street. They include:

1. Everything will be free.

3. He'll sort your bins out.

6. Shaun Ryder could be Culture Secretary.

...he'll still probably get more votes than the yellows.

BLACK FIGHTDAY

Sleuth hears that police were called to seven Tesco stores across Greater Manchester last night, following fighting at ‘Black Friday’ sales events. 200 people in Middleton refused to leave the store despite being told that all the sale stock had gone. Sleuth just doesn’t get it. Sleuth has never wanted anything so much that he’d threaten to ‘smash’ a staff member’s face in (this actually happened in Salford), let alone a bloody television.

"I think Sir, you'll find that's my LG 50" Plasma..."

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

David SmithNovember 28th 2014.

What exactly is the point of English Heritage?

13 Responses: Reply To This...
tblzebraNovember 28th 2014.

English Heritage is the Government's statutory adviser on the historic environment. Its principal powers and responsibilities are set out in the National Heritage Act (1983) and is funded partly by Government and partly from revenue earned from historic properties/other services. In 2008/09 their public funding was worth £132.7 million, and income from other sources £48.1 million.

AnonymousNovember 28th 2014.

EH Chairman is Sir Laurie Magnus a corporate banker so don't expect significant change . EH were also silent over the monstrous new Chethams School of Music plonked in between the Grade II Listed Victoria Station facade and the Medieval ensemble of Chethams Library, and acquiesced to the demolition of the 200yr old Palatine Buildings. They said nothing about some appalling buildings in the (tentative listed) World Heritage sites of Ancoats & Castlefield and refused to grant Listed status to the Art-Deco Century Building in the supposed St. Peter’s Sq “Conservation Zone” preferring demolition for anothe Ian Simpson box. They said nothing about the shocking multicoloured plastic tat getting built in the Smithfield “Conservation Zone” whilst the Mackie Mayor Building rots. They and MCC are heritage vandals in Manchester alongside the Britannia Hotel Group.

Jonathan SchofieldNovember 28th 2014.

Crikey Anon, the new Chetham's building is magnificent and far better than the paper thin Edwardian Victoria Station facade - although that 'Belgium' canopy is fun. Just because it's old doesn't make it good.

AnonymousNovember 28th 2014.

I agree with anon on this one Jonathan regarding Chetham's. That new build is dreadful, many people dislike it and a group of people I was talking to outside the station thought it was a 70s car park, they asked me it it was to be knocked down.

AnonymousNovember 28th 2014.

Just because it is NEW doesn't make it good either Jonathan (you waxed-lyrical about Hodder's Student Castle abomination remember bit.ly/11BsjcX…?). Chets was seemingly inspired by the brickwork and curves of both URBIS and the Phone4U Arena rather than the heritage buildings. It is a shocking entrance to the city presenting the electricity substation to visitors from the station and blocking views of Manchester's oldest buildings. The neglected Walker's Croft should have been levelled from the station into a public square with viewing galleries of the Medieval quarter, the River Irk unculverted and covered in trees to create a spectacular entrance into the city. That would have been visionary.

Jonathan SchofieldNovember 29th 2014.

I still think Student Castle is a fine tower. And the new Chetham's building is excellent. Cities are about density. We really do not need any more squares.

rinkydinkNovember 29th 2014.

I'm really struggling with the concept of Student Castle as a "fine tower"

Jonathan SchofieldNovember 29th 2014.

In truth Rinkydink you struggle with a lot of things on here

rinkydinkNovember 29th 2014.

Yeah - it involves dealing with a hell of a lot of stupid people!

AnonymousNovember 29th 2014.

...and both sides of the Atlantic too, no doubt.

GimboidNovember 29th 2014.

Anon your preoccupation with Rinkydink's origin really is fucking strange. I grew up in a little Cumbrian village east of Carlisle. Now you know that about me, are you gonna bring it up every time I post, even though it will never be relevant?

EdwardNovember 30th 2014.

Jon with the snide dig.

AnonymousNovember 30th 2014.

America is rubbish though isn't it? Yet I know people that, just going off a holiday experience to Florida, would rather live in the US than Manchester.

tblzebraNovember 28th 2014.

I didn't even know the Civic Society was still in existence. Checking out their website, they certainly don't seem to do much www.manchestercivic.org.uk/…

moragNovember 28th 2014.

So glad the conversations about heritage, public space and effective consultation are happening, and I am very keen for them to continue. More than happy to share anything we have learnt with other campaigns too; together we can be much louder and stronger! I was overwhelmed with the amount of support the campaign to save library walk recieved, and I want to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed. Whatever the outcome we fought a good fight and presented a very strong case based on passion and hard facts. Thanks again, and watch this space because its time for a change....

AnonymousNovember 28th 2014.

Another alcohol licence for the city centre. Yippee. What could go wrong? Oh it already did...

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 29th 2014.

Moaning shitcunt.

AnonymousNovember 28th 2014.

Fantastic, another burger & italian to add to the other god knows how many other ones we have!

AnonymousNovember 28th 2014.

"two much-needed chains" Needed by who? Less 'Sleuth' and more sloth in this 'news report'.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 28th 2014.

I think your sarcasm-detection needs fixing.

AnonymousNovember 28th 2014.

I think you've missed Sleuth's sarcasm there...

AnonymousNovember 28th 2014.

Hard to tell with Manchester Confidential as they're always creaming themselves over any new uber commercial food or alcohol outlet.

AnonymousNovember 28th 2014.

The third respondent wins a 'gourmet' burger - my treat.

AnonymousNovember 28th 2014.

"Gourmet burgers." Next they'll be selling dog ends out of bins that are pimped up slightly for the "more discerning" person who likes to pay a bit extra to feel superior. You're being taken for mugs with this rubbish. Please save your money. You'll need it next year when the world economy goes down! I don't want to demonise people who are on tax credits. But have you ever wondered what percentage of consumers in Manchester ARE on them and what will happen to the "gourmet burger" outlets, bars and other non-essential nonsense when tax credits are abolished as they surely will be. Government debt has rocketed over the last five years. There's no way this can continue and, despite the hype, no real sign of any recovery. Quite the opposite. Please save your money! :)

1 Response: Reply To This...
rinkydinkNovember 29th 2014.

Keep taking the tablets dear

AnonymousNovember 29th 2014.

So - Britannia Hotels, led by Alex Langsam, are still dragging their feet! Forgive me if I'm mistaken but isn't 'langsam' German for 'slow'..?

AnonymousNovember 29th 2014.

before there was the glass carbuncle of libary walk there was 1 Piccadilly, whose construction has destroyed the spatical dynamics of Piccadilly Gardens/ Square. Both are now in need of demolishing and restoring in their rightful role as nothing more than valued and pleasing civic space.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
rinkydinkNovember 29th 2014.

Not gonna happen

AnonymousNovember 29th 2014.

The presence of 1 Piccadilly has improved the area. The design of the thing is terrible though.

AnonymousDecember 1st 2014.

I like it, it echoes the columns at the front of the library in a way that appeals to me. I hated it through most of its construction though, so I'm not sure what changed for me.

AnonymousNovember 29th 2014.

Whilst I think most people would agree the Library Walk building is a good idea (a link building and consolidated entrance is a manifestly good idea) I do think the council is lacking in professional, critical advice in matters of planning, heritage and design at the most senior levels where many decisions are made. There is a distinct air of being rather too acquiescent to the needs of developers over people. Anyone know what the status of the head of planning is at the council? Do they still have conservation officers?

6 Responses: Reply To This...
GimboidNovember 29th 2014.

A manifestly good idea? Why?

GimboidNovember 29th 2014.

Yes they have conservation officers. It's pretty obvious the council leadership ignores their expert officers when it suits them.

Mark FullerNovember 29th 2014.

My { infallible and obviously correct} impression, is that most people think that this incongruous structure is ugly, unnecessary, grandiose and a waste of money.

AnonymousNovember 29th 2014.

People will naturally assume that their community is representative of the whole community. Just because a vocal minority of readers of a particular website don't like it doesn't mean the Manchester populous as a whole doesn't. Anyway, is it not obvious that a direct, covered ground level link will make it much easier to walk between two parts of what is now, effectively, a single building?

Load of shit anonNovember 29th 2014.

"Just because a vocal minority of readers of a particular website don't like it doesn't mean the Manchester populous as a whole doesn't. " What a load of shit Anon. Hundreds of people made the effort to voice their objection to Library Walk, and there's no reason to think they're exclusively ManCon readers.

AnonymousDecember 1st 2014.

And hundreds of thousands didn't, what point are you trying to make. I think it looks alright & consequently didn't sign any petition against it.

Matthew SchofieldNovember 30th 2014.

I haven't spoken to a single person who has a good thing to say about the glass link building which blocks Library Walk. It is generally accepted to be a big, ugly and expensive mistake.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
EdwardDecember 1st 2014.

It was the same with B of the Bang. Maybe with our new mayor there will be more accountability?

DarrenDecember 1st 2014.

B of the Bang wasn't ugly though. Library walk is an utter monstrosity.

EdwardDecember 1st 2014.

165 tonnes of rusty metal spikes wasn't ugly? My point is maybe this won't happen again with an elected mayor.

Rebecca BlackNovember 30th 2014.

It's Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friiiday.

DavidDecember 1st 2014.

Oh great a indepenent opening in the city centre,one by salt of earth rugby players,bet they will offer a fair price compared to Costa for a coffee?.Think again the prices at this coffee shop are hideoudly inflated.A cup of espresso that costs a few pence to make is being sold at a massive mark up.Either they must have a very greedy landlord or they are trying to foist London prices on northerners.Pot Kettle Black also has zero design originality,looking like the product of extensive googling of supposed trendy interiors.Sadly the biggest rip offs in this city are by so called independents,who have no concept of fair pricing,but are just greedy,short term opportunists.

9 Responses: Reply To This...
DarrenDecember 1st 2014.

What does it cost to run a shop like this? You have to factor in rates, wages, stock, advertising. They aren't a charity, if they don't make a profit it'll be an empty unit. They probably pay all their taxes too, unlike the big chains. I'd happily pay a little more and support small independent businesses.

DavidDecember 1st 2014.

So called independents are not morally superior to the tax dodging chains,if they had the opportunity and the accountants they would be exactly the same in seeking to avoid tax. But that's no excuse,go to France where the minimum wage is much higher and other costs similar,and you will find plenty of independent business not charging £2 plus for a espresso. As a customer I want the best value and ambience for my money and I not willing to pay vastly over the odds,when can get a double espresso with Starbucks card for £1.60.Only a fool would pay 40 pence a day more,or £11.20 a month for 50% less coffee.This place is not even that nice or offering great service.

AnonymousDecember 1st 2014.

You're judging people by your own standards there David, which appear to be akin of a weasel's.

AnonymousDecember 1st 2014.

If you're only bothered about quantity, carry on going to Starbucks. Or Greggs. People who prefer nicer-tasting coffee will probably choose PKB though.

DavidDecember 1st 2014.

If your so rich that you can afford to subsidise independents by paying vastly over the odds prices,good luck to you.But I prefer not to pay the kind of prices you might find in Knightsbridge or Venice.

AnonymousDecember 1st 2014.

I went yesterday and paid £5.20 for an Americano and a Flat white. That seems about normal to me. Also, it's worth noting that the coffee was actually one of the best I've ever heard. Why do I need to be rich to afford a fiver for 2 coffees?

AnonymousDecember 1st 2014.

Had*

DavidDecember 1st 2014.

Go to Bolton to the redeveloped market food court,where there is a independent coffee place.That offers a quality espresso for about £1.20,and freshly ground coffee at reasonable prices.Not all independents are money grabbers or foolishly paying over the odds rent.Unfortunately Manchester these days has a lot of mugs,who are accepting vastly over the top price increases,at a time when inflation is very low.There is no excuse except greedy landlord and businesses for the huge increases in food and drink prices that are happening in the city,which are pricing out increasingly working class families from being able to enjoy a day or night out.

DarrenDecember 1st 2014.

David, why are you comparing prices of things in central Manchester with things in Bolton?

DavidDecember 1st 2014.

If you realise a cup of espresso costs just a few pence to make and then you accept paying over £2 for it,then you are a mug.Good coffee does not need to cost that price at all and it does not in most of Europe,like Italy,France and Spain.Those countries manage to serve superior coffee,with waiter service,in lovely cafes at less price too.You would not pay €2 let alone £2 in cities like Bordeaux or Toulouse,where wage costs are significantly higher than Manchester.

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

France and the UK are pretty much equal for wages and I would hazard that the french wages for someone working in a coffee shop would be lower than in the center of Manchester. In terms of the rents and rates paid by a business you would expect them to be considerably higher in Manchester than in the likes of Bordeaux and Toulouse. The comment above regarding Bolton Market is subject to the same factor. Renting the same space in Bolton Market as they have in Barton Arcade would be about 50% the cost if not less and the rates treatment in such an environment would be completely different. All the above said, they are not cheap, but they are not massively over priced compared to other in town. I have had three flat whites from PKB now and I won't be returning for a fourth as frankly they were pretty rubbish, too milky and just generally not to my taste. Agree completely with whoever said the interior looks like someone has googled "trendy interiors" too. Metro tiles and exposed filament bulbs are surely done with now.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
DavidDecember 2nd 2014.

British minimum wage is £6.50 per hour,the French minimum wage is €9.40(£7.66),and they also have a 35 hour week and significantly higher costs for employers from the state to employ anyone.But despite this they don't charge as much,so you are wrong.

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2014.

So just ignore the point about rent and rates. You're a fool David. No wonder you're an object of ridicule and no one takes your rants seriously.

Lukewarm Latte HaterDecember 2nd 2014.

Popped into PKB on Saturday. Great buzz, coffee okay, cakes alright, but they committed what I consider to be a cardinal sin when serving a latte: putting it in a glass. Not even the typical glass mug, but an actual tumbler. Great combination of making the drink too hot to pick up whilst also ensuring that the drink cools too quickly to be enjoyed leisurely. Why?? Happy to admit my ignorance if this is somehow considered to be authentic... anyone?

AnonymousDecember 18th 2014.

Maybe they could not afford the special container after rents, rates and taxes.

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