Tom Bloxham
Interview with Eyewitness in Manchester, Wednesday 6 August 1998

Could you briefly describe your job?
Chairman of the Urban Splash Group, which is primarily a property development company, but we also have a poster publishing company, a radio station called Crash FM, and some bars and restaurants in Liverpool, called Baa Bar and Coco Modo.

How did you come to do it?
It was as much chance as much as anything, going from posters, into property and into looking for opportunities and into believing in the value of design.

In your opinion, what makes Manchester unique?
It's a twofold thing, I think there's a great stock of interesting buildings, and interesting venues for bars and restaurants and living spaces, all sorts of things, but perhaps most importantly, the friendliness of the people and the pride of the community in our city.

What do you like best about Manchester?
The best thing about Manchester is that there's a fairly small community of people, it's very friendly, and I am lucky enough to be able to mess about and rub shoulders with all sorts of people, from normal lads who are building labourers or whatever, through to pop stars, politicians and government ministers, through to artists and photographers and waiters and waitresses and DJ's and TV personalities and a whole host of people rubbing shoulders very closely, drinking in the same bars, and all friendly with each other... and Manchester United, of course!

Is there anything about Manchester that could be improved?
Certainly I'd like to see more of the old buildings come back into new use, more conversions of the derelict buildings, areas like Ancoats in particular, I think there's a lot of scope for and I would like to see a world class building coming to Manchester, like the Sydney Opera House. We've had the Lottery for so long now, and there's not been a single building in the country you could really say is a world class building.

It was mentioned in one of the articles about you that you may have plans to develop the Piccadilly Plaza...
Nothing definite at the moment, I think it's one of the buildings that has great potential. A lot of the fifties buildings haven't really been touched yet, and that's a very good building, with a few problems on the lower floors, but basically I think it's a good building. Yes, I think I'd like to get my hands on something like that to redevelop.

Where do you like to go?
Well, most places, favourite restaurants, probably Mash and Air, but I also go to places like Heathcotes, I like to go to the little curry houses in the Northern Quarter, all of Castlefield, Atlas is another favourite place.

Recommended Manchester People
Bobby Langley the DJ is a must, Nick Johnson, surveyor, Jenny Thompson, who runs Atlas and does a great job there, Jim Ramsbottom who has single handedly saw the regeneration of Castlelfield go through, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs, for hanging around town, and particularly Giggsy, for hanging around with the same lads as he's always done there.

Recommended websites Do you know, I haven't even got a computer, I've never ever been on the World Wide Web!

(The Urban Splash website is currently in preparation: EWM)

Interview by Aidan O'Rourke aidan@anamaria.u-net.com www.aidan.co.uk/ewm