Andy Burnham launches the Greater Manchester Town Centre Challenge to revitalise and reshape town centres across the region.

Exciting times are ahead for Manchester as the Mayor of Greater Manchester announced his plans to regenerate the region’s town centres on 17 November 2017.  Andy Burnham’s regeneration initiative is seeking to move “.. away from the developer-led, greenfield first approach of the past” with the objective of delivering more high density residential developments with retail and leisure facilities on brownfield land which is supported by transport and digital connectivity.  Andy Burnham said “This new initiative is all about regenerating town centres across  Greater Manchester which have felt left behind”.   At the launch event in Bury town centre, Andy Burnham spoke about his desire to work with each council to bring together housing providers, public and private landowners, developers, community groups and other key stakeholders to unlock the potential in town centres to support the town centre challenge.

The Mayor stressed that whilst there is a huge housing requirement across the region, Greater Manchester needs a housing and planning policy which is not just about the number of units built, but one that is focused on building the right homes in the right places.   He stressed that the high levels of traffic congestion in the region meant that new housing growth would only be supported if it is linked more closely to transport infrastructure.  

It is thought that Greater Manchester may well follow London’s  lead in its new approach to redeveloping existing shopping centres to deliver new homes.    Approximately, a third of London’s shopping centres are currently subject to redevelopment plans which include a residential element as part of the proposals.  Greater Manchester has around 50 shopping centres , all of which are located in areas with good transport links and therefore have the potential to offer the opportunity of delivering the required high density developments.

With over  8 main towns, around 20 other smaller towns and more than fifty significant suburban centres, this new initiative is no mean feat but the Mayor is taking one step at a time and has invited each of the Greater Manchester boroughs to elect an initial one town centre to be improved to kick-start the regeneration. These nominations are due to be in before the new year. 

Here at Mills & Reeve we are excited about this alternative and creative initiative and look forward to seeing the results of the town centre challenge.


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