The second of our “In Conversation with…” events had Sir Howard Bernstein, Manchester City Council’s Chief Executive talking developments, projects and new train stations to support a connected Manchester.
The event in early February saw a personally invited audience share questions and concerns about how Manchester competes internationally as well as how devolution and developments could effect the landscape of Greater Manchester over the next few years.
If you were unable to attend you can watch the full conversation, with journalist and author Michael Taylor putting the questions above.
Our next Conversation at The Castlefield Rooms will be after the general election in May
Some of the highlights and notes we picked out from the Conversation with Sir Howard;
More capacity is needed to accommodate the multi million pound investment in rail infrastructure promised for Manchester and the North West and city leaders want to secure finance for expansion before rail works begin.
Sir Howard Bernstein discussed, “How we approach Manchester’s transport agenda is crucial to our long term success and you are going to be hearing a lot about a new station post the election.”
He went on: “If we are not careful we will have one or two big building projects – we will knock it (Piccadilly) around for the Northern Hub and then disappear, then knock it about again for HS2 and disappear, then again for HS3. And then decide that actually what we need is a new station.
“We have to get things in the right order and anticipate and plan for the future. There is a need for a different approach about how we drive station investment.”
Last month the City announced a major land deal with Transport for Greater Manchester and London and Continental Railways (LCR) for the adjacent Mayfield station site which is planned to be a mixed use development with 230,000sq ft of offices, retail and leisure, 1,300 new homes a hotel and a six acre city park.
Sir Howard said other sites around Piccadilly such as the former UMIST campus and London Road Fire Station were also key.
He told our invited audience; “It is clear the owners of the Fire Station do not want to develop the building, and there is no shame in that. But what they now should do is sell it to us and we will find somebody who will develop it. This site will become even more pivotal to the regeneration framework in the next few years. We have to move the site along and will keep pressing to do that.”
In this wide ranging conversation with Michael Taylor he spoke about the important shift of power that devolution will bring and the benefits of local decision making to prioritise and target funding.
Sir Howard described the contrast of huge Government investment in major infrastructure projects followed by disproportionately high cuts in fiscal funding as “A most amazing contradiction.”
He said: “Places like Manchester and Liverpool have suffered a hammer blow which makes our commitment to deliver the necessary investment to support growth even more difficult.”
Next month the City and 70 private sector partners will share a high profile platform at MIPIM, the property conference in Cannes when the first schemes in the ambitious Manchester Life housing investment fund are expected to be revealed.
Sir Howard said: “You have to be visible and flexible in the global market. Four or five years ago we talked about Graphene and people wondered what that had to do with property, but actually it has everything to do with property.”
The National Graphene Centre was followed by the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre and in the autumn a further £235m was announced for a new Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials Science.
“What MIPIM also does is give people like me the chance to see what other cities are doing and embrace new opportunities and ideas.”
Asked to pick out cities from which Manchester could learn he named Hamburg – “The way it has faced two different directions at one time is very clever, one way to Europe, the other to China.” And Barcelona – “Along with us it is the best example of how a sporting event can transform a city.”
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