Greater Manchester is one of Britain’s most successful city regions, with a population of more than 2.7 million and an economy bigger than Wales or Northern Ireland. Its vision is to make its economy one of the best in the world and the city is making progress through a combination of economic growth and the reform of public services.
The leadership of the city has been strengthened over the last few years by the United Kingdom (UK) Government’s drive for devolution. It has one of the UK’s devolved administrations: the Greater Manchester Combined Authority is run jointly by the leaders of the 10 borough councils and the new Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham. The authority also works with local services, businesses, communities and other partners to improve the city region. Boards, panels and committees look specifically at areas such as transport, health and social care, planning and housing. The Mayor and his Cycling and Walking Commissioner are highly visible both at a city level and nationally.
The population is forecast to grow to more than three million by 2035, which will place increasing pressure on housing, social infrastructure, transport and urban systems. These pressures need to be considered when assessing the suitability of these services for the future and included when developing plans.
Manchester is a major European center and has moved towards becoming a 24/7 city. Urban intensification is happening on an epic scale, with a strong vision and value approach to transport planning — a shift from the more typical UK approach — and the funding to support it. Manchester’s global connectivity via direct flights is probably the best in Britain after London Heathrow.
Control of health and social care provision was devolved to the Greater Manchester Social Care Partnership in 2016. Amid reports of a significant budget deficit for these services, additional central funding was announced meeting some of the reported gap.
The many university students share in the benefits of the city’s internet access, which is as good as anywhere else in the UK. Manchester is likely to be top of the list when 5G connectivity arrives.
Earlier this year Greater Manchester’s mayor hosted a Manchester Green Summit at which local leaders made several key announcements, including the ambition for Greater Manchester to become carbon neutral at least a decade earlier than 2050.
Manchester has developed a 15-year strategy to build 227,000 new homes in the city, 20 per cent of them affordable. This is based on a 2006 housing needs assessment, and is outlined as part of the core strategy. It also includes the need to consider amenities in housing development design.
Although the strategy has a long timeframe, it is unclear if the number of houses will be sufficient and where the funding will come from. The strategy covers the period from 2012 to 2027, not the impact beyond this time frame, although the 227,000 new homes compares favorably with the expected 300,000 population growth. All 10 Manchester borough councils are working together to ensure they have the land available in the right places and the required infrastructure to deliver the homes and jobs they need up to 2035.
The city encourages compact development, and on the back of strong demand for residential property, has invested in a lot of high-rise residential developments, bringing back into use brownfield sites within and surrounding the city center core and in Salford. Continued building in the city center is strongly influencing surrounding areas with development spreading outwards from the core. These developments have led to changes in movements within the city to increasing levels of activity including a thriving night time economy.
The strategy could result in green belt areas coming under pressure for development. About 25 per cent of the new homes will be built on greenfield sites. The councils are updating the 2016 draft spatial framework to maximize use of brownfield land and minimize impact on the green belt. The city also wants to bring all 12,000 or so empty homes back into use.
Manchester has few shared spaces, in the past tending to follow a traditional approach of separating transport modes, in the face of big developments, including many high-rise buildings. However, the Transport Strategy 2040 is spatially themed and driven, moving away from the more traditional modal focus. The strategy majors on how the city connects globally, across the North of England, between the regional center and the rest of the city region, but also down to better connecting neighbourhoods.
Manchester is a big university city and, despite big increases in the numbers of older people, it will continue to be a young city. Media City has brought considerable change to Manchester and the HS2 high-speed railway is expected to arrive about 2030.
Manchester has prepared a public realms strategy to ensure that a coordinated approach is taken to city development. It does this by considering if developments have appropriate funding and are designed to keep up with the pace of the rest of urban development in the city. This strategy will be supplemented by the city’s StreetsForAll program.
Manchester has put a lot of investment into restoring the city’s waterfront areas, particularly focused on the Salford Quays area. It is unclear what the future strategy will be in this area beyond any proposals and plans already in place.
Manchester City Council highlights that 20 per cent of the city is classed as tree-covered, that it has five river valleys, three canals, more than 160 parks, eight nature reserves and 38 sites of biological importance. Its plan for urban green space includes a Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy and Action Plan, which aims to enhance existing and introduce new green infrastructure. It also includes calculations of percentage green infrastructure in Manchester and percentage tree canopy cover. Its headline vision says that, “By 2025, high quality, well-maintained green and blue spaces will be an integral part of all neighbourhoods with access to parks and green spaces and safe green routes for walking, cycling and exercise throughout the city.” Importantly, it also says, “New funding models will be in place, ensuring progress achieved by 2025 can be sustained and provide the platform for ongoing investment in the years to follow.”
The strategy aims to increase the percentages of green infrastructure and tree canopy, and points to areas for street tree planting along major corridors such as Alan Turing Way. The strategy also aims to increase the coverage of local nature reserves to meet the national guidance of one hectare per 1,000 residents, although possible areas for this and actions to achieve this are not yet identified. This approach to green space will help in the challenges to meet air quality targets for the city.
The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework recognizes that an increase in population in Manchester will need to be supported by access to key social infrastructure. This involves the provision of additional school places required because of new developments, which must be considered during planning. Additionally, the framework supports the continued improvement of university facilities, although plans for achieving this are limited.
Similarly, with healthcare, developers will need to make provision for increased demands. Manchester is unusual in that control of the budget for health and social care was handed to the councils and health groups in 2016, which at launch had a set of five year targets. Possible expansion options are mentioned to increase healthcare facilities at the University Hospital South Manchester and to provide health centers for communities in Salford, Partington and Carrington. However, the availability of funding is not clear. Parent support is also considered in the Implementation Plans, which may include improving childcare facilities in Greater Manchester.
The core strategy for Greater Manchester mentions proposals to improve the appearance, use and accessibility of all cultural attractions, but further information is limited.
Homelessness and rough sleeping is a key priority for the Mayor who has a target to end the latter by 2020.
The Manchester Climate Change Strategy 2017-2050 is a key part of the overarching policy framework of Our Manchester, and looks to improve the resilience of the city. Adaptation options are set out in the Implementation Plan 2017-2022, which will then be reviewed for the period 2023-2027 to allow the plan to be aligned with scientific and international development politics. The implementation plan lists actions around spatial planning, development and infrastructure investment and broader education actions. The Climate Resilient Cities and Infrastructure project is the latest of these projects, and runs until November 2018. Involving the University of Manchester and Greater Manchester as partners, its goal was to progress climate change adaptation goals in the city.
The framework also looks to improve the city’s resilience to the social and economic impacts of climate disruptions, much of it by increases in education and engagement and business growth. These include a CAD1.4 million project led by Manchester universities to help to better understand the links between green infrastructure and the health and well-being of the city’s older population. This will also help to evaluate the impact of a broader Green and Healthy pilot program. There is an additional CAD175,000 project with Tyndall Manchester and Manchester Museum, which aims to find innovative ways of engaging people in climate change as part of Climate Lab.
Manchester aims to become a zero-carbon city by 2050. Some projects have already begun, including the Greater Manchester Green Deal Communities Project, funded by CAD10.6 million from the national Department of Energy and Climate Change and Manchester’s Carbon Co-op, which has secured European Union funding for a new smart meter technology project in which householders profile their daily energy use with the support of new apps and devices.
The Transport Strategy has priorities to deliver a low emission transport system by 2040 to enable it to meet its strong carbon reduction targets and eradicate transport related air quality issues.
Manchester has several strategies in place for future public transport, including the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) 2040 Transport Strategy, Local Transport and Delivery Plans and annually updated five-year spending plans. Manchester is also at the forefront of Transport for the North’s Strategic plans to deliver on regional connectivity across the Northern Powerhouse, and unlock major productivity gains and development potential regionally through the delivery of transport links.
Devolution gave Manchester control over many areas, so it is taking a holistic approach to transport. Recent transport investment — including the ambitious ‘Big Bang’ expansion of the Metrolink system — is a big success story. The diversity of transport modes in Manchester is indicated by HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail growth strategies, combined with a rapid transit network of Metrolink, suburban rail and buses including guided busway and supporting Park & Ride. However, plans to expand for expected increased high-speed railway capacity are limited.
Smart ticketing has been introduced on buses. Plans to extend this across all modes are discussed as well as improving interchanges at key nodes. Manchester’s role as the linchpin of Transport for the North area which provides top level transport planning across the North of England, is also helping the city to continue increasing the performance of its local transport system.
Greater Manchester’s freight strategy involves developing Manchester Airport as a global freight hub to provide additional logistics space and enhance capacity, along with the Northern Hub rail program, which will electrify lines and remove a rail bottleneck in Manchester.
The fact that the airport is well connected to the motorway network and that further improvements have been delivered over the past few years, enabling road based freight to be well served, is a positive step in the right direction, which the city region intends to continue driving.
The importance of balancing freight and passenger demand is recognized, as there are limited dedicated freight routes and no plans to increase them. However, capacity is expected to increase with the arrival HS2, and access charges are mentioned in the strategy to reduce demand. The potential of investment in the Port Salford to unlock inland shipping and make best use of the Manchester Ship Canal is recognized.
There are ambitious plans to expand the passenger market at Manchester Airport with aims of reaching 35 million passengers a year by 2030 and 55 million by 2040, which are possible because of the CAD11.74 billion Manchester Airport Transformation Program due to be completed by 2020.
The airport currently has flights to international hubs and destinations right around the world, and is arguably the UK’s second airport after Heathrow and the key airport for the North of England. Its role as a strategic asset to the Northern economy is recognized both in terms of attracting trade and inward investment, as well as skills.
The Enterprise Zone at the airport, including Airport City, the World Logistics Hub and the Medipark, is a key center for growth in the wider region and benefits from the global access facilitated by the airport. Port Salford is a tri-modal freight interchange and there are development plans to expand it to meet future freight capacity. This includes 150,000 square meters of logistics space as part of Phase 1.
The Velocity Program, funded by the Greater Manchester Council, aims to extend cycle paths and upgrade present routes to achieve 10 per cent of journeys by cycle by 2025. Beyond that, there are no plans in place to improve and upgrade this network. The CAD8.7 million Commuter Cycling Project planned to spend half the funding on improving cycle parking, but this project began in 2011. It is unclear whether these facilities will meet future demand.
The GM2040 Transport Strategy aims to increase the attractiveness of pedestrian routes through reallocating road space to add to the extensive network of footpaths. This, combined with the introduction of 32 km/h zones, may increase walking in Manchester, although the introduction of low-speed zones will depend on local support.
Bike share has started with Mobike recently offering effectively a new mode of transportation to local residents. This should unlock synergies with BeeLines’ investment in walking and cycle network right across the city. The leadership of the council and its Walking and Cycling commissioner should help to turn many of the new plans into reality. Finally, the StreetsForAll Strategy and proposals, which focus on place as well as mode of transport, are all positive developments to continue making cycling and walking easier in Manchester, contributing to better outcomes for local residents and visitors.
Parking standards in place outline maximum and minimum provisions for new development, although residential parking is not included. Aims to manage existing parking are included in the strategy and focus on increasing constraints in the city center, but these aims are not specifically linked to public transport.
Manchester is also transforming brownfield sites on the periphery of the city center core, which are currently used for informal car parking, with many being taken up by high rise residential and office development. The shift away from providing parking on the edge of the city center is being supported by expansion of Metrolink Park & Ride sites.
Mobility as a service, ride-share and car clubs are briefly mentioned in TfGMs 2040 strategy. Some car club companies are already present in Greater Manchester, but the overall strategy to manage this is limited. For example, Mobike bike share has started providing a new shared mode of transport. Uber is also operating its app based private hire taxi provision, and more developments can be expected in the near future. For example, a Mobility as a Service trial was undertaken to gauge the behavioral response to the aggregation of pre-payment and information across a range of modes.
FUTURE MOBILITY: TECHNOLOGY
FUTURE MOBILITY: TECHNOLOGY
Funding of CAD8.7 million has been granted for a three-year driverless car pilot between Stockport Railway Station and Manchester Airport and a CAD4.7 million grant from Transport for Greater Manchester and 10 authorities aims to increase electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Moreover, significant investment has been made in the traffic control systems within the city using new technology and trails of emerging data led solutions have been undertaken under the CityVerve project.
However, strategies for future uptake of these technologies and the extent of infrastructure needed are areas yet to be explored.
Manchester has developed a digital strategy for 2016 to 2025 that highlights the importance of increasing communications infrastructure that has received funding and support. However, the strategy does not address the period beyond 2025.
FIXED INTERNET: SPEEDS & FEEDS
FIXED INTERNET: SPEEDS & FEEDS
At present, only 65 per cent of Manchester households are connected to the ultra-fast broadband network. However, the city is now included in the first phase of BT Openreach’s Fiber First program, which is tied to the UK’s national Digital Infrastructure Fund. This fund aims to increase the number of homes in Britain with Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) services. Although this strategy has funding from the Treasury, the strategy lags other European cities and critics argue the funding is insufficient.
MOBILE INTERNET: WI-FI, 5G, NARROWBAND IOT
MOBILE INTERNET: WI-FI, 5G, NARROWBAND IOT
Manchester’s digital strategy includes a commitment to increase the average mobile internet download/upload speed by as much as half or two-thirds. In addition, Manchester aims to secure national 5G test city status to position itself at the forefront of the next-generation 5G network. There is also a strategy to create a one login solution for public Wi-Fi in the city.
Open data has been at the forefront of the TravelSpirit initiative which aims to capitalize on Mobility as a Service and Connected And Autonomous Vehicle opportunities. It was developed in Manchester and has grown across the UK and internationally.
By 2020, residents should be able to see what information is being shared by the public sector in Greater Manchester. In general, all cities and the national government should be able to provide open source data.
Manchester has plans to become a zero-carbon city by 2050 and the starting point for achieving it is a CAD26 million investment fund, although reports on the way forward have not been produced. As part of Horizon 2020, funding has been provided by the European Union for the Triangulum project, which aims to develop smart, low-carbon and energy-saving solutions.
The Core Strategy for Manchester aims to facilitate an increase in the use of low-carbon, decentralized and renewable technologies. Actions to achieve this are not detailed. The Energy Action Plan also has strategies to maximize the opportunity for supply of energy from renewable sources.
Manchester’s water supply and wastewater treatment and disposal infrastructure is the province of United Utilities (UU). It has an asset management plan in place that aimed to invest CAD6.4 billion in their infrastructure between 2010 and 2015 and a Water Resource Management Plan (2015-2040), which assesses supply-demand availability and the impact of climate change. Manchester is not forecast to have deficit in supply in the future, although water trading has been outlined as an option. Desalination has been ruled out.
UU is also investing in treatment infrastructure, with a biogas upgrade at the Davyhulme Treatment Works as part of a CAD350 million modernization of the plant.
Manchester’s waste separation and recycling infrastructure consists of:
Materials Recovery Facility, which processes 90,000 tons of material each year
Twenty household recycling centers
Four mechanical biological treatment facilities with anaerobic digestion
Thermal recovery facility.
These facilities have been developed to treat waste until 2029.
The Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (now merged as part of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority) also manages and maintains four closed landfill sites, and has previously sold 12 landfill sites to POS Landcare in 2012.
Recycling and reuse is encouraged, although specific frameworks and bans are not in place. On the road to zero waste, Manchester plans to achieve a 50 per cent reduction to 400 kilograms in residual household waste by 2025. The strategy focuses on furniture and bicycle reuse.