Manchester at MIPIM: Breaking barriers between private and public sectors

Written by Megan Carter AtkinsRéalis

In the run up to MIPIM 2024, Megan Carter, Regional Director at AtkinsRéalis explains the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors in the future of holistic placemaking.

The term levelling up is often used when talking about regeneration, whether that is at a government level or within local authority. Regardless of where the decisions are made, the goals are usually the same – to boost living standards, improve public spaces and restore and support local communities. These foundations are built by collaboration between local authorities and the private sector, with each of them playing an important role in how these plans will unfold and the legacy they will leave within the communities they work with. This collaboration between the private and public sector has never been more important, breaking down barriers to encourage teamwork must be at the forefront of development and be a celebration of holistic place making.

Local authorities are key to this, as they at are at the heart of our communities. Community-led regeneration requires consistent funding and support to ensure the sustainable and inclusive growth takes place, and having regular engagement with residents and public consultation is critical to its success. When it comes to future planning, legacy is a key focus. Creating public spaces and facilities that will benefit current and future residents and have longevity within the community is at the forefront. Only local authorities have the reach within community groups to understand their challenges and how placemaking can benefit an area for present and future generations.

Regeneration in practice

Regenerative collaboration keeping communities front and centre is already underway in multiple boroughs around Greater Manchester. Within the city centre, Manchester City Council has successfully provided a wide range of initiatives that supports sustainable inclusive growth, regeneration, and future planning. Leading and co-ordinating the council’s input into the delivery of regeneration frameworks and major projects has greatly contributed to the growth of the city. Areas such as Ancoats and NOMA are prime examples of successful neighbourhood regeneration of previously brownfield or employment-focussed areas. NOMA is a 20-acre neighbourhood in Manchester’s city centre, creating 4 million sq ft of new homes, offices, hotels, retail and leisure space developed around vibrant urban space and public realm. Alongside investment in new commercial buildings and historic estate, a significant placemaking programme was set up in the mid-2000s which included new urban space, a comprehensive events programme and community engagement initiatives. The culmination of restoration and repurposing of the historic estate in the area has brought support to a new and diverse mix of businesses and sectors in this part of the city centre, which has meant the area has regenerated with the same charm that brought people to the area in the 18th century.

The improvements to Sadler’s Yard and Angel Square have helped transform the area from a solely employment area to a thriving neighbourhood. With support from Manchester City Council and the European Regional Development Fund, the developers Hermes placed community and engagement at the heart of the redevelopment. Community campaigns like #NameOurSquare and a large presence from Manchester International Festival has encouraged the local community to get involved, with all these activities complementing the public realm improvements. This collaboration between the public and private sectors is just another example of how Manchester understands the power of working in unison to achieve a shared goal.

Wider benefits

It's not just the city centre that benefits from this collaboration between public and private sector funding and planning. Across the 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester, there is a strong unified vision that promotes the city-region as a place to live, work and visit. One such example is Wythenshawe Civic, which has been awarded a £750m regeneration project that will be delivered over the next 15 years. A host of projects to reinvigorate the area include 1600 new homes, a20,000 sq ft food and beverage destination, a new public square and a public park among many other projects. Included in this project is a culture hub, designed to provide facilities and creative spaces for artists, creative businesses, local people and community groups to realise their artistic potential in a welcoming, stimulating and supportive ecosystem. The local council is in consultation with the local community, frequently asking for feedback on proposals and creating an open dialogue between the public sector and the private-joint-venture development partner, which would not be possible without the local authority’s reach within the existing community.

At AtkinsRéalis, we understand how crucial relationships between the private sector and public local authorities are, and the importance of bridging the gap between the two to create cohesive collaboration, and to ensure mutual benefit to both parties and the wider community. Events like MIPIM are a great opportunity to strengthen these long-standing partnerships as well as fostering new opportunities between the public and private sectors. They allow local authorities to meet with private sector partners and present a shared vision that will pave the way for future development and long-term collaboration.