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EWM says: We urgently need to reassess how our city is being rebuilt and redeveloped . Here are a few ideas for debate, along with some photographs on the theme of change, taken from the Eyewitness in Manchester archive
Bridgewater Hall service tower
Arndale Centre Market St Cross St remodelled exterior
Piccadilly construction
Hacienda before demolition
Urbis Centre under construction
No1 Deansgate under construction
City Art Gallery extension
Urbis Centre addition of glass curtain walls
No1 Deansgate construction seen from Arndale Centre
Arndale Centre Market St surviving shop facade
Urbis Centre nearing completion
No1 Denasgate construction of upper storeys
Expressnetworks building, former Daily Express Building
Urbis Cathedral and Chethams
No1 Deansgate St Mary's Gate
Northcliffe House prior to demolition
Urbis Centre roof
Parsonage Gardens Century Buildings
Former NatWest bank King St
Tony Wilson, Cllr Richard Leese at Urbis opening
Victoria Baths with Restoration banner


  • Local government structures in the Manchester area are deeply flawed. There is no single local government authority covering the wider city we call Manchester. The local authority which calls itself Manchester, i.e. the City of Manchester, is much smaller than, and most unrepresentative of, the wider metropolitan area. A bad local government system is leading to bad planning decisions.
  • Due to the regional importance of central Manchester, including the old centre of Salford across the Irwell, control of its development should be given to a wider and more representative body with input from conservation organisations and the general public.
  • The general public should be encouraged to take much greater interest in the ongoing development of the city around them. Programmes like the BBC's 'Restoration', organisations such as CUBE (Centre for Understanding of the Built Environment) and the Manchester Civic Society can help in this task.
  • Local broadcast media need to highlight conservation and development of Manchester in much greater depth.
  • The general public should be invited to give their opinion on buildings and developments after they are completed, as well as before. Market research methods and new technology can be used to gather this information.
  • If a completed building or development turns out by general agreement to be damaging to the urban environment, the local authority which approved it should be fined in the same way that companies are fined for polluting the natural environment.
  • Local authorities should be given awards for fostering buildings or developments which are generally well-liked and considered to be enhancing to the city. The decision should be made by the general public, not just the people we refer to as 'experts', or bodies with vested interests.
  • A museum dedicated exclusively to the history, development and future of Manchester and its conurbation, developed by locally-based organisations, should be set up in a landmark building, with exhibits and displays that draw on the knowledge, talent and collective memory of local or locally-connected people.

All photos and articles © Aidan O'Rourke

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