Manchester City Council's new City Centre Strategy debated by councillors at the Economy scrutiny committee.
The strategy sets out the council's long term ambitions for the city centre and follows a period of consultation with councillors, residents and other stakeholders.
Key elements of the strategy include:
- Acknowledgement that we need more diversity in residential types, tenures and affordability in future developments, including larger apartments suitable for families.
- A commitment to a significant new park in the Mayfield development, green spaces and public realm in new developments on Great Jackson Street, St John's, the former BBC site, Kampus and First Street South and more trees across the city centre.
- Council support for the principle of a new school catering to city centre families.
- Replacing surface car parks removed by new development with multi-storey car parks on the periphery of the city centre to reduce the number of cars needing to come right into the city centre, reducing congestion and air pollution.
- Continued significant investment to improve transport infrastructure into and through the city centre to outlying neighbourhoods through Metrolink, bus and cycling interventions, other northern cities through development of the northern hub rail plans and London via the delivery of HS2.
Council Leader Sir Richard Leese also agreed with councillors that Piccadilly Gardens needs urgent attention to fix the fountains, improve the green space and deal with the concrete wall.
City centre councillors, who submitted a detailed response to the consultation following a public meeting we held with 50 local residents in attendance, welcomed the strategy but called for important amendments - including expansion of the section on Castlefield to recognise its status as a key visitor destination and to insert a new paragraph clearly stating support for the principle of a new school for the city centre. These amendments were accepted and will be included in the final strategy.
City centre councillor Joan Davies, who spoke at the meeting, said:
"As city centre councillors and residents we’re very pleased that Manchester City Council’s new Strategic Plan for Manchester City Centre 2015-2018 reflects the comments of residents who submitted their views and attended our consultation meeting.
"The strategy works by identifying strong neighbourhood profiles for the city centre's distinct communities, and makes a commitment to develop new green space and public realm as part of future developments on the former BBC site, First Street, St John's, Great Jackson Street and in the Piccadilly and Mayfield area.
"This is a high level strategic document but it sets the right tone in developing a vision for the sort of clean, green and diverse city centre which residents and councillors support. We'll continue working to achieve these aspirations in our day to day work representing the views of local residents, and we’ll seek further opportunities to involve city centre residents in future strategy shaping."
Councillor Kevin Peel, who also spoke at the meeting, said:
"The commitment to the principle of a new school for the city centre is a big win for city centre families who have supported our campaign on this issue and will help us to make the case and demonstrate wide support for the proposal.
"I'm also very pleased with the clear ambitions to develop new green spaces and public realm to create a more sustainable and liveable city centre and with the acknowledgement that we need to address the affordability of renting and buying property in the city centre and create a more diverse residential type and tenure of housing. These are all things we've championed for years and now they form a core part of the city council's strategy."
Watch the debate on this item at the meeting live on the council's webcast system (this item starts 53 minutes in)