The alternative dictionary to Manchester life, this time focussing on planning and property

The inspiration behind this occasional series is the early 20th century book The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce which takes a satirical look at life. It pokes fun at humanity's madness beautifully. 

For example; 'Egotist(n.) A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me. Faith(n.) Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel. Lawyer (n.) One skilled in circumvention of the law.'

We can’t guarantee the same level of humour but let’s hope we can raise a smile. By the way, 'cn' and 'cv' means compound noun and compound verb - probably. 

Altrincham Market, cn. An entity in a wealthy suburban town that every local authority think they can copy often with disastrous financial consequences.

Arndale carpark, cv. False imprisonment. Example: "I locked myself inside my own home accidentially, I was arndalecarparked until the locksmith came round."

Castlefield, v. To show immense potential but not to realise it.

Cathedral Gardens, cn. A garden that isn’t a garden but mainly a platform for other activities with partly Astroturf-ed lawns to add to the beauty.

Chorlton, n. Ridiculously overpriced houses. No honestly, the whole place is ludicrously overpriced. 

City centre canals, cn. Important traffic-free routes through a city centre for the enjoyment of litter, specifically empty cans of Stella and used condoms.

Consultation (1), n. If you are a developer, yes, go ahead, and be our guest.

Consultation (2), n. If you are a member of the public then honestly don’t worry your pretty little head about it.

Consultation venue, cn. A place nobody can find and if they can it is only open for an hour, maybe once or twice at some point. Who knows? And why bother going? Your opinion won't change anything.

Cornbrook, v & n. To cornbrook someone is to leave them in a cold place in the middle of nowhere. Example: 'As Frodo and Samwise travelled through Mordor they felt they had been cornbrooked by the other members of The Fellowship, especially that bastard Aragorn.'

Deansgate Locks, n. A location designed to kettle people from Bolton, Warrington and Wigan.

Deansgate Square, cv. An experiment into how many dogs can be fitted into tall skyscrapers.

Deansgate Square balconies (2), cn. Holes.

East Manchester, cn. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Manchester Lexico
East Manchester, close to Philips Park Image: Wikimedia

Factory International, cn. A financial black hole. Example: “The amount we’ve spent on fixing this car is turning into a Factory International.”

Factory International (2), adj. Something that is very late. Example: “Good grief, the bus today is Factory International.”

Factory International (3), adj. Wild optimism. Example: “I know it is a bit Factory International but that £14m left by a relative I didn’t know, a Nigerian general apparently, is bound to be in my bank account by mid-2023.”

Feedback, n. Very valuable and much-quoted commodity if positive about a proposed development or building: a commodity to be ignored if negative about a proposed development or building.

Food hall, cn. An empty patch of land or empty building in Manchester city centre upon which a developer can plop a draughty food hall, hire some DJs, cook some pizzas, charge £6.50 for a pint and make a deal of short-term money.

Fountains, n. A sporadically working water feature the installation of which should be avoided.

Great Ancoats Street, n. A misrepresentation. The city council said Manchester would get 'a European-style boulevard' and we ended up, a road and one with no cycle lanes and eight or so ill-looking trees.  

Green Quarter, cn. A property description of two words, neither of which is applicable to the development in question.

Green Quarter, cv. To be left massively in debt by shoddy building including ancillary cladding problems. Example: “The poor man’s been completely greenquartered and now hasn’t two pennies to rub together.”

Greengate, Salford, cn. An area that will soon change its name to Renaker Build Limited.

Heaton Hall, cn. A prominent and fine building, part of the legacy of the city that can be grotesquely mistreated by a local authority for decades.

Heritage building, cn. Fair game. 

Hough End Hall, Chorlton, cn. A prominent and fine building, part of the legacy of the city that can be grotesquely mistreated by a local authority for decades and then sold off.

HS2, n. A transport system between London and Birmingham.

Levelling up, n. A lie.

Library Walk link building, n. A local authority building which is not needed, nobody wants and doesn't link anything. Since the pandemic, the £3.75m link between Central Library and the Town Hall Extension, at the latter side, has been locked which deprives the thing of its utility. 

London Road Fire Station, n. To bite off more than one can chew.

Manchester Lexicon London Road Fire Station
London Road Fire Station restoration, seven years and counting Image: Confidentials

Manchester Clean Air Zone, cn. Manchester (a lot of) Hot Air Zone. 

Manchester Life, cv. To give something away cheaply, in particular to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi for a strictly limited period of a mere 999 years which is, incidentally, exactly the length of time we'll be waiting for HS2 to arrive in Manchester.

Manctopia, n. A four-hour BBC advertisement, free of charge, for a single property company.

MIPIM, n. Expenses.  

Mumpsimus, n. A non-planning or property word (look it up) which refers to a custom or idea adhered to although shown to be unreasonable, aka having lawns in Piccadilly Gardens.

North Manchester, cn. A place with high poverty levels and poor indices of health which some people in South Manchester worry about and say so at dinner parties but have no intention of visiting. Also see South Manchester below.

Northern Powerhouse, n. A pointless abstraction. Often pronounced ‘Nothing Powerhouse’ or ‘Northern Powerless’. 

Ordsall Chord (1), cn: A white elephant which costs a fortune. In this case something around £100m. 

Ordsall Chord (2), cv. To destroy incredibly significant history on the grounds of expediency and that it will create 30,000 jobs (see below). The Ordsall Chord severed the connection between the world’s first passenger railway station and the mainline. Example: "Yes we ordsallchorded that building as it was in the way of us making money. Er, I mean it had become unsafe and was standing in the way of economic development and creating jobs."

Peterloo Memorial, cn. A monument to a tragedy that must never be repeated. The tragedy is getting an artist known for 'performance art' to design a work commemorating the fight for social justice which excludes disabled people. 

Peterloo Memorial Manchester Lexicon
Peterloo Memorial: A monument to a tragedy that must never be repeated. Image: Confidentials

Piccadilly Gardens, cn. Something that goes wrong. Always.

Planning application, cn. Pragmatism, reality and Deloittes.

Quay Street, cn. Gridlock.

Section 106, cn. A way of levering in much needed funds from developers to improve amenity, public realm or provide social housing. In most places this is obligatory, in Manchester it is discretionary. 

Save Turn Moss, cv. To cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face while campaigning for nothing. In this case the Friends of Turn Moss ended up saving two or three self-seeded trees that could have been replaced elsewhere on the same site. They prevented a development that would have been useful to the community by turning a bog into 5G pitches and smart new changing rooms for local kids to play on without adding to their carbon footprint through the overuse of family washing machines. 

SimpsonHaugh, v. To be guaranteed planning permission in a particular part of a city. Example: “As planning officers, we’ve SimpsonHaughed the whole area in the southwest of the city between Chester Road and the Mancunian Way for all eternity.”

South Manchester, cn. A place that is doing ok which some people in North Manchester never worry about and never say so at fish suppers and don't have the slightest intention of visiting.

Spinningfields, n. Permabronzedfields.

Tall buildings policy, cn. A ridiculous idea used by weaker cities to restrict growth. Manchester is upwardly mobile.

Thirty thousand jobs, cn. Dubious Statistics Panel. Any project which claims it will create X,000s of jobs is always part of the work of the Dubious Statistics Panel. 30,000 jobs across the North was what was promised once the Ordsall Chord opened, only it has never functioned properly because Network Rail kyboshed the attendant work between Piccadilly Station and Oxford Road Station. 30,000 jobs, maybe 30 jobs after the construction work.   

Urbis, n. A completely glass public building costing £30m so cunningly contrived people can’t see out of the windows. 

Read next: Myths of Manchester: Part One

Read again: Euro Car Parks' shameful treatment of city's heritage

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