In February we hosted a place-based regeneration seminar in Manchester. Elizabeth Holmes shares a roundup of the key points from the event.

The breakfast seminar featured an expert panel of speakers, responsible for taking projects from the infancy/business case stage through to delivery and unlocking transformative change for the area. They shared their experience and insights into regeneration and economic growth within the Greater Manchester region.

Challenges and key priorities

Wayne Butcher, a director in our public services advisory team, introduced the event. Manchester City Council’s Deputy Treasurer Tom Wilkinson then gave an insight into the developments and challenges facing Manchester City Council. Key priorities include tackling homelessness, levelling up and the target to be carbon neutral by 2038.

Manchester’s population is rising, and the planned regeneration of previously neglected areas will provide new housing including affordable homes in areas such as Hulme, Ancoats, Castlefield and Victoria North. Further afield, the development in Irwell Valley will create 15,000 homes of which 20% will be affordable and supported by Homes England funding. And just outside Manchester – with good connections and proximity to Manchester Airport – the council has acquired Wythenshawe Civic Centre with over 1,500 new homes planned. Alongside new housing, there's a requirement for neighbourhood services, such as GP surgeries, schools and green spaces.

Tom added that financial viability for affordable housing remains a challenge for developers but there is scope for partnership, development agreements and overage arrangements. Access to funding for authorities is complex due to the volume and nature of grants available; some are also time limited and hence there's a need to move quickly.

Making regeneration schemes more viable

Warren Taylor, Director, Cityheart Limited, an expanding development company, said their ambition was to work with councils with a clear strategic purpose and aim, highlighting the need for a long-term vision that can sustain changes in leadership.

Warren noted two development schemes where regeneration is taking place in partnership with local authorities to create a new mixed-use neighbourhood:

  • Wigan – the town shopping centre ‘Galleries’ redevelopment will bring a new market hall, leisure and residential opportunities to increase footfall
  • Stockport – the Stockport Interchange project will link the rail station to the town centre, and incorporate a new bus station, rooftop park and build-to-rent residential units

A key message from Warren was to work innovatively to make schemes viable and meet needs: working collaboratively with Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) Design and Build contracts, and looking at various funding options, such as income strips and the range of grant funding available, to create a viable project.

Power in strategic partnerships

Christos Kottis is the Export Partnerships Lead for the Greater Manchester (GM) region with the Department for Business and Trade. He is tasked with bringing together strategic partners  – including combined authorities and universities – in the region to deliver value and levelling up. Working closely with the Mayor of Manchester’s team, Christos highlighted how the Greater Manchester trade group has contributed to the new international and export strategies for the region. Key elements include trade, investment, research and innovation, tourism and international students.

He encouraged Greater Manchester to move away from benchmarking with London and the Southeast and to focus on building on competitive advantage over other cities, such as Birmingham, and being the leader of the powerhouse regions. According to the GM Export Plan 2022-25, Greater Manchester exports £15 billion per year, split between goods (£7 billion and 16th in the UK) and services (£8 billion and ninth in the UK); the USA is its largest trade market, followed by Germany and Ireland. It’s also not just about focusing on money or financial support: skills and infrastructure are key factors as well.

Christos's key message was that partnership is the most powerful enabler: to identify synergies, the economics of scale and share knowledge.

Public sector funding and finance

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'Sitting on hands' not an option

Chris Sood-Nicholls is the Managing Director for Regional Development Sustainability and ESG Finance for Lloyds Banking Group. Chris’s focus is on regional development – working closely with local government, central government, private sector and education – and how Lloyds Bank can have an impact on place with the aim to get partners together with leaders to discuss what's required. Lloyds sees the following four areas as an opportunity to create impact:

  • housing and regeneration
  • economic infrastructure
  • SME finance 
  • net zero lending

Place-making will boost productivity and skills and requires a wide lens to see all the options available. There's also a need to consider how risks are managed and to ensure there's no over-reliance on prudential borrowing and income strips.

Chris highlighted that partnerships are key to successful regeneration and place-shaping and that there's a need to be innovative and recognise that solutions may change day to day. However, "sitting on hands isn't an option given the levels of deprivation and needs of the people".

Public and private sector cooperation

In summary, when it comes to achieving successful place shaping and place-based regeneration both public and private sectors need to work together to:

  • find solutions to making multi-tenure development schemes financially viable through a variety of funding options
  • mitigate risks – innovation will be key to delivering and managing risks effectively
  • tackle levelling up and housing shortage – partnership is a powerful enabler and sharing knowledge is key
  • create great places to live – everyone shares that ambition, and this should remain the constant focus.

To find out more about place-based regeneration, contact Wayne Butcher.

Regeneration development and housing

Place-making remains a key objective for the public sector.