This video, Building Boom in Manchester 2021 follows on from my 2020 video on the same subject.
This time, I take a bike tour around the east, north and west side of the city centre, exploring and discovering the new developments which are under construction there.
I haven’t covered every development, but I’ve featured the ones which seem to me to be the most striking and sometimes controversial.
We start on Great Ancoats Street, the street which is probably seen more changes than any other and has been transformed from a rather down at heel part of Manchester to one where there is new construction going on everywhere, completely changing the character of the area.
We visit the New Islington district with an interesting assortment of apartment buildings constructed next to newly created stretches of canal and a newly built man-made lake in the middle of the city.
We stop off at the sad remains of Grade II Ancoats Dispensary which I featured in the previous video and there is news.
The building will be turned into affordable apartments, which ironically may not be affordable enough for local residents. Construction is set to go ahead sometime in the near future.
I feature the Smiths Arms pub in Ancoats which sadly was demolished, despite a high profile campaign to save it. I feel it could have been retained and would have added something valuable to the square, with all its restaurants and bars.
In Liverpool Ma Egerton’s pub was retained, despite the construction of a very large new student residence behind it.
In Angel Meadow, once a very rundown area, two new apartment buildings are under construction. Then we visit for Angel Square, part of the corporative NOMA district of the city centre. We take a quick look at the Ducie Bridge pub which despite a campaign, was demolished to make way for this new development.
Next to Victoria Station a major new development is under construction on what seems like a very small section of land. On the other side of Victoria, we find the construction site of the new Manchester College campus.
Continuing along Trinity Way, construction of a tall building is currently paused, due to allegations of fraud. Find out more in the video.
We continue past Collier Street Baths, still standing derelict behind scaffolding. We cycle past a new development on Chapel Street, named the filaments, then next to the River Irwell, the development named New Bailey and across the river, the construction site of The Factory, a new arts centre with sophisticated facilities. It will be the home of the Manchester International Festival.
After a quick look at the Potato Wharf development, we enter Castlefield and take a look at Castle Wharf, a luxury apartment building that contrasts in height and colour with the surrounding buildings within the Castlefield conservation district.
Then we take a look at one of the major construction projects currently in progress. It’s Elizabeth Tower on Chester Road, overlooking the Hulme roundabout.
It will reportedly have one of the highest swimming pools in Europe. And finally, we revisit Deansgate Gardens, which I featured in the 2020 video.
I Include my photograph of Deansgate Gardens, which was kindly liked on Instagram by architects SimpsonHaugh.
At the end of the video, I ask some questions and invite people to answer in the comments. As promised in the video, I am going to share what I really think:
Is Manchester City Centre going to be a place for everyone to live or just a high-earning minority.
The apartment boom is targeted towards high-earning younger professionals in the city centre. It’s profit-driven and so it looks like Manchester is going to be like a small Manhattan. That’s part of a video I have planned.
Are enough affordable apartments being built?
No. Developers are encouraged or required to include affordable apartments so that lower paid key workers can live there but many neglect to do this.
Is most new construction of architectural merit or are they just faceless, clinical new apartment buildings?
There are some interesting new apartment developments but many others are of a mediocre design.
Should we do more to remember Manchester as it was?
Yes, absolutely. I’ve always thought this, it’s my main motivation for doing what I do, both in my old Eyewitness website and in my AidanEyewitness YouTube channel today.
Should older buildings such as pubs be saved, no matter what?
That’s a difficult question. They should be saved if possible but it’s not always possible. The Smiths Arms should definitely have been retained as it’s a part of the character and identity of Ancoats and helps us to remember Ancoats as it was. The Ducie Bridge, well that would have been much more difficult to incorporate. The ‘footballer property developers’ originally wanted to demolish The Abercromby pub for their original, disastrous Bootle Street development, but after a citizens’ campaign, they relented.
And that was my tour of the new construction around Manchester City centre and I intend to go on another tour maybe next year we’ll see how things have developed.
And I can recommend a great video by Chris W about the district of Chapeltown, currently being transformed.
Watch this wonderful song and video with archive images of Chapeltown, including a few of mine. It’s by musician Chris A.