Big ideas for the city, Piccolino and Iceland and a beautiful hall made beautiful again
Manchester property roundup: this week, the colossal sum Manchester requires to get its businesses motoring again...
The resilient city, yes we are, because we say so
Powering Recovery: Manchester’s Recovery and Investment Plan, has been developed by Manchester City Council with the support of city business leaders. This is apparently, ‘a statement of confidence in the future of the city’s economy. It shows a resilient city with a diverse economy and strengths in key growth sectors as well as strong existing partnerships and a track record of delivery.’
Good. We will damn well need to be resilient in the coming years.
There are some excellent ideas in the document.
The plan's early actions for instance include a two-year, £36m pa programme to provide support to 12,000 people. This includes support to stay in education, training people in high-demand skills (such as digital - an area where Manchester's had more than 4,000 businesses start up since March 2020) and supporting self-employment. A minimum of 15% of this funding will be focused on the green economy.
But the big news comes with four investment propositions which require government funding of £798.8m across 50 projects.
We have a plan, now give us £798.8m
Powering Recovery: Manchester’s Recovery and Investment Plan has four investment propositions across 50 projects.
These are, to quote -
Innovation: Creating a new world-leading innovation district in the city centre and two complementary innovation parks in the north and south of the city to leverage Manchester’s existing strengths and become a ‘superhub’ for science and technology and health innovation research and development.
City centre/urban realm: Focused investment in the city centre to help it attract further investment and support more growth through enhanced public spaces and improved environmentally-friendly travel options.
Residential retrofit programme: A £260m scheme to kick-start an ambitious programme to retrofit all 68,000 social homes in the city to make them more energy efficient and dramatically cut carbon emissions. This first four-year phase would improve 14,000 homes and give a significant boost to the local green economy.
North Manchester regeneration: An innovative health-led approach to regeneration combining the creation of a new health at wellbeing campus centred around a transformed North Manchester General Hospital with the largest housing development in the north, the 15,000+ new homes (target 20% affordable) being brought forward through the Northern Gateway scheme.
ID Manchester, St Michael's and others requiring cash
Some of the key schemes requiring support in the council's plan:
Manchester Housing Provider Partnership Retrofit programme – £260m (retrofitting more than 6,000 homes with renewable heating by 2025)
ID Manchester – £120m
Manchester Manufacturing Innovation Park – £90m
City centre public realm improvements (four projects: The Factory arts centre; Lincoln Square; Medieval Quarter, and Piccadilly Gardens)
Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD) – £30m
Viadux – £1m
St Michaels - £27.5m
Airport City North – £7.5m
Airport City South – £3.6m
Craft and Design Centre Redevelopment – £5m
Airport City South – £3.6m
Didsbury Technology Park – £2.15m
Improved walking and cycling on Deansgate, Cambridge Street and Ancoats - £9.5m
Science and Industry Museum - £4.5m
That is quite a wish list and includes the controversial St Michael’s Tower, off Deansgate, from Gary Neville’s consortium. Indeed, many of the initiatives are private not public schemes. That could cause a rumpus in some quarters. The only thing missing is a statue of Marcus Rashford.
Piccolino picked up
Well-known Manchester restaurants Piccolino and the Restaurant Bar & Grill have moved to Iceland. This doesn’t mean a trip to Reykjavik for those oysters in Albert Square in Piccolino Caffe Grand, but it does mean around 1,300 jobs have been saved. Along with their Bank and Opera Grill brands, the Restaurant Bar & Grill Ltd has been bought lock, stock and barrel by the directors of Iceland supermarkets through their business Ice Acquisitions. Let’s hope all 31 sites have a future in these uncertain times.
Band on the Wall's expansion boost
An expansion of Band on the Wall is round the corner. City Build have been announced as the main contractor by Inner City Music Limited, the charity that owns and operates the award-winning venue. The total project value is £3.5 million and involves the renovation of a lovely polychromatic nineteenth century building, the Cocozza building, which is a survivor from the days when this area was the country’s biggest city centre wholesale market.
The result will be an increase in capacity from 350 to 500 for headline artists and performances. The bar will be re-modelled and will include an external terrace area. There will also be a smaller performance with 80 capacity on the ground floor. There will also be more room for learning spaces and the extensive archive. A re-opening date of autumn 2021 might just be about right given the uncertainties over vaccines and the bloody pandemic.
Harrying to hurry up the Harris
Beyond a shadow of a single doubt one of the finest buildings in the North West is the Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library in Preston. It’s a Grade One listed powerhouse of a Classical building that opened in 1893. Designed by James Hibbert it’s more like one of the monumental structures you’d find on Museum Island in Berlin than in the market square of a Lancashire town (Yeah, yeah, technically a city, but shush, it doesn’t really feel like one, does it?)
Now Preston Council, alongside Lancashire County Council, wants the Lottery to cough up the final £4.5m of the £10m project to preserve, renovate and boost the fine old building. Manchester-based Buttress Architects are in line to cut the clutter left in previous renovations and reveal, internally, the true grandeur of the Harris.
The Wythenshaw Hall miracle
The Harris Gallery is in safe hands with one of our favourite Manchester-based architectural practices, Buttress. The latter's reputation in getting the best out of older buildings is well-founded. The minor miracle of Buttress’ restoration of Wythenshawe Hall is testament to this. The hall with its timber-framed core dating back to the 1540s suffered an arson attack in 2016. It looked catastrophically damaged but the building has been reborn. The beautiful restoration work here fully deserves its nomination as a regional finalist for the 2021 Civic Trust AABC Conservation Awards.