FIRST LOOK: City Centre’s Newest Rail Bridge Lifted In Place

Urbanitymcr’s  was on site today to provide the first snapshot of the arch being lifted onto the new Ordsall Chord Railway Bridge.  The structure was lifted into place today by one of the country’s largest cranes as onlookers gathered at Trinity Way to observe the process.

The project will connect Piccadilly and Victoria Stations and forms a key part of Network Rail’s multimillion pound investment in the North of England’s Railway infrastructure.

Programme manager Allan Parker from Network Rail said: “This latest piece of work signifies we are getting ever closer to the Ordsall Chord being completed. Once finished, passengers from across the North will have more direct services to Manchester Airport and a reduction in congestion due to some services from the east being rerouted through to Victoria station first. This will mean an increase in services as more trains will be able to run to Piccadilly.”

“As you can imagine, the sheer size of the arches and the accuracy needed to position them meant there was a lot of planning that took place previously. I have been working on this project from the very beginning and I am extremely proud of every milestone we have achieved.  However, the sight of the arches elevated over the River Irwell was very special and will live long in my memory.”img_2079img_2081img_2085img_2095img_2098img_2107-1img_2107img_2109img_2110img_2111img_2114img_2116

Final 2040 Transport Strategy Launched


During summer 2016, TfGM  held a 12-week long public consultation on a draft 2040 Transport Strategy, which set out long-term proposals to create a cleaner, greener, more prosperous city region. The study looked at options for better transport connections and simpler travel. The draft strategy focused on creating an integrated, sustainable, and well co-ordinated transport system which supports a wide range of different travel needs.


In total, nearly 1,800 responses were submitted by members of the public, elected representatives, businesses and organisations. Over 70 per cent of respondents agreed that the strategy helped to achieve long-term, sustainable economic growth for all, showing strong public support for future plans.

The final strategy was released this morning, with key amendments including recognition of the crucial role that transport can play in providing access to healthcare and reducing social isolation. The final strategy also takes into account the importance of the night-time economy and providing connections for people travelling home from work late into the evening.

Following public support, the strategy gives greater emphasis to improving cycling infrastructure and places an emphasis on the role of local streets as ‘places’ rather than just routes for traffic, with a commitment to enhance the natural environment where possible. The strategy also outlines the important role of transport in supporting major growth in housing and employment.

For more, see: 



Work Begins on New Canalside Houses Close to the City Centre

Work is anticipated to begin this week on a new residential development on the Rochdale Canal, close to the City Centre. Following Planning Approval in October 2016, Urbanitymcr can report that enabling and site security  works at next phase of the Bramah Place and Platting Village Masterplan are already underway, with construction anticipated to begin in the coming weeks.



Images showing hoardings being erected along the Rochdale Canal, with the historic locks in the foreground and Victoria Mill in the background. 

Built as part of Manchester City Council’s £235 million Private Finance Initiative scheme in partnership with Lovell Homes,  the scheme forms one element of the 1500-home masterplan for the Miles Platting and Bradford Road areas. A large compulsory purchase order led to the clearance of hundreds of former social-sector housing within the city centre and the construction of the canalside park. This route now forms a popular pedestrian route which is also favoured by dog walkers. The canal also allows a  traffic-free cycle route directly into Ancoats and the Northern Quarter in one direction and the Etihad Campus and Phillips Park in the other.

As part of the 1.95 hectare scheme, 73 two and three storey houses will be constructed, with realigned roads and upgraded landscaping. Almost half of the new units will be four bedroom properties, with the remaining half featuring 2 and 3 bedroom properties. The setting of these any of these homes will overlook the historic locks on the Rochdale Canal, in the setting of the historic Victoria Mill and revamped Victoria Mill Park.


The previous elements of the Lovell Homes scheme has already led to the sale of hundreds of new homes. Many of these have been subsequently been released for private rent by property developers. The pace of change and demand in this area has seen newly built rental properties let at over £1100 per month.

This latest development is expected to deliver quality family dwellings for the private home-occupier market at the heart of the inner-city. This is anticipated to provide diversity to the housing market of the Ancoats, New Islington, Bradford Road and Miles Platting areas.

Sitting within walking distance of local amenities such as the New Islington Free School Etihad Stadium as well as popular local restaurants and bars such as Rudy’s Pizza, Second City, Vermillion Ancoats Coffee Co. and Vnam, these homes are anticipated to fetch between £170,000 and £250,000. See below for an overview of the site as well as individual house types.


Sh*t Skyscrapers: Why Neville’s Towers Must Be Refused – First Look at Before and After Images


The much opposed 31 storey St Michael’s Scheme is in for planning. The unprecedented reaction to the St Michael’s consultation, saw an overwhelming 70.4% of consultee respondents oppose the scheme.

Manchester City Council’s leader Richard Leese told Mancunians that some people “don’t like tall buildings”. In the case of the St Michael’s Conservation Area scheme, he’s right.

Councillor Joan Davies stated in her formal response “The height of the towers is an issue for many people… my current view is that the towers are too tall for the location; they block the view of the Grade 1 listed Town Hall from a number of buildings around the city”.

The buildings’ proposed facade treatment has been altered from black during consultation stage to an amber colour for planning submission. Councillor Davies stated that this would not impact upon her dislike of the scheme stating that black towers “are inappropriate for the area, though I do not think that changing the colour would resolve the location and height problem.”.

The views shown in the consultation documents interestingly don’t include certain angles from sensitive buildings. Urbanitymcr would like to see the views from St Peter’s Square showing this proposal’s impact on  the setting of the Town Hall tower. Views from Manchester Central could be repositioned to show the towers’ impact along Southmill Street and Mount Street. It is concerning that views also aren’t shown from along historic Cross Street. King Street or St Anne’s Square. To understand the scheme fully, Planners, Councillors and residents should be graced with views from the spaces they interact with.

Objecting is a simple process. Planning concerns include impact upon the conservation area, blank facades leading to poor streetscape, heritage objections from major organisations, scale of the buildings, lack of visualisations from the town hall. Object here:

See before and after images below:


Standing Tall: How Will Manchester’s Newest Skyscraper Look?

Images of skyscraper proposals at the former Granada Studios site have been released. Four buildings towering up to 52 storeys above the city will be decided at this month’s planning committee on 20th October.

The scheme, one phase of the development known as St John’s, has been submitted by Deloite, on behalf of developers Allied London. Properties are understood to have been marketed in Singapore, Hong Kong and China and individual apartments are fetching over £200,000.

See how the proposals will look from sites across the city here:


Busy Busway: Is Manchester’s Guideway a Victim of Its Own Success?

First Manchester has announced that its Leigh/Tyldesley-Manchester Busway services are so full that they are to run additional services and purchase new buses next year.

Vantage - upper deck_0


Nearly a million passengers have used the service since its launch in April 2016 and many passengers have expressed their frustration with the capacity of the service.This level of patronage is roughly in line with Transport for Greater Manchester’s expectations. However, Urbanitymcr understands that peak-time services have left many users stranded at stops as some buses are so fully that they are unable to pick up passengers. Many passengers onboard have been unable to find seats and have had to stand.


First Manchester announced last week that they were aware of the capacity issues and were looking into adding new vehicles onto the route. The route’s operator has announced the commencement of two extra Vantage services running at peak travel times to relieve pressure on existing services.



Next year, an additional five buses will be added to the route which connects Manchester to Leigh and Tyldesley via Salford.

Since its announcement, the Leigh-Salford-Manchester Guided Busway has faced vocal criticism from campaign groups and residents of the A580 corridor. Much of the criticism that Urbanitymcr has witness online has originated from motorists who were sceptical that the scheme would attract its projected level of users.

It is yet to be understood whether the high level of patronage includes a number of motorists who have switched to using First’s services. It is perhaps more likely that a large number of bus users have simply diverted from services 12, 25, 26, 39 and First X34 which were all axed around the time of the Busway’s operations in April.

Leader of Wigan Council, Lord Peter Smith stated “The continued success of the guided busway service is very pleasing to see and I welcome the announcement that the number of buses at peak times is going to be increased”.

“Despite doubt and criticism from some quarters in the past, we maintained our full commitment and support and we are now delighted to see it is thriving and growing in popularity. It is crucial that demand from passengers is now satisfied by First Manchester and its commitment to add extra buses to the route is very welcome”.


City Council Leader Sir Howard Bernstein to Retire


Sir Howard Bernstein, a fundamental player in the reinvigoration of Manchester’s economy has announced he is to reitre in Spring of next year.

Born in 1953 to a Jewish family, Bernstein grew up in Cheetham Hill. Starting work at the City Council in 1971 as an 18 year old junior office clerk, he rose the ranks to spearhead changes in Hulme and at Manchester Airport.

His ambition for the city and for himself saw its heights from the 1990s onwards Spearheading the city’s 1996 Olympic bid, post-bomb regeneration and 2002 Commonwealth Games bid, he has been a core player in the City’s emergence from a post-industrial environment to a more dynamic player as a pre-eminent European regional city.

“It’s my city. I’ve always been a proud Manc. I’ve always regarded this place as the most cosmopolitan, the most successful city about.”


Bernstein has been a key individual in negotiating Manchester’s relationship with Westminster, working with GMPTE and then TfGM on securing much of Greater Manchester’s major transport projects. Manchester’s City Deal which was secured from 2012 onwards confirmed Manchester’s place as a modern, semi-autonomous metropolitan area.

“The platform we have got in Manchester for change and growth is unprecedented in generations. Whoever takes over from me, the long term future of this city is very, very strong.”

Traffic Chaos: Mancunian Way Closed

‘It’ll get worse before it gets better’ is a concept we’re often fed when it comes to roadworks.

However, the repairs to the Mancunian Way sink hole this morning may well have pushed Manchester’s traffic system to it’s limit.


Image of Manchester’s traffic at around 8:40 this morning.

The Mancunian Way was subject to a planned closure this morning and will be closed again tomorrow (Tuesday) due to final repairs on the carriageway, following the emergence of a sink hole in August last year.

After the discovery of the sink hole, a temporary closure of both carriageways was put in place, followed by a one-lane contraflow in each direction. This morning, the Mancunian way was completely closed. The Mancunian Way is a key part of the Manchester and Salford Inner Ring Road and carries a high volume of traffic on its elevated sections.


This morning’s closure required motorists making east-west journeys, particularly those involving the M602, A56, A5103 and A34 and A6 and A635, to find alternative routes. However, in an increasingly cycle, bus and tram friendly Manchester, alternative routes are being made more difficult to find.

  • Restrictions on traffic at Chapel Street, Lower Mosley Street, Victoria Street/Deansgate (in front of Manchester Cathedral) have been in place for a couple of years now and traffic seems to have navigated around these points;
  • The east-west Princess Street is closed due to the construction of the Metrolink second city crossing;
  • The north-south Portland Street is now closed to general traffic between Minshull Street and Piccadilly, due to bus improvements. This apperars to put extra pressure on the south-west Whitworth Street and north-west Piccadilly and London Road;
  • The restriction on general traffic along Oxford Road north of Hathersage Road began last week, putting extra pressure on Upper Brook Street.

This funnelled more traffic onto the remaining part of the Ring Road which most readers would know as at Trinity Way, which runs north-south and Great Ancoats Street, which runs east-west. Issues here were compounded by additional temporary works at Old Mill Street, where  temporary traffic lights limited traffic travelling from the north-west of the city to a single lane.

To make things worse, a landslide caused rail services on the Buxton-Manchester line to be cancelled and a traffic light outage in Trafford Park caused further delays.

As a result, Manchester stood still. TfGm, First Manchester and Stagecoach all reported severe delays to all bus services. Even the largely segregated Metrolink was affected, with delays being reported on the Altrincham and Eccles lines.

Motorists took to twitter to vent and reported queues all the way along the main route in from the west, the M602 and Regent Road. All of inner Manchester, Salford and Trafford’s main routes were backed up to the orbital Moss Lane, Alan Turing Way, Queens Road, Great Cheetham Street, Trafford Road and Frederick Road.

Janak @J999NAK said: “3 hours to drive 8 miles to work this morning. Thank you Mancunian Way and Manchester council.”

Long Tran @longtran took to twitter to add: “ traffic is nuts today. Dont even bother to come in, just work from home!”


Laura KB @_GirlAboutTown tweeted: “Rubbish start to the week. 3.5 hour trip to take the husband to the station. Why on earth would you close the Mancunian Way on a Monday!”


Ell @ellmcx actually summed up what Urbanitymcr believes in less than 140 Characters:  “Manchester actually falls apart when Mancunian Way is shut😭 traffic becomes a madnessss”

The city’s works on key arteries are helping city centre residents and employees to travel by a wider variety of modes than the private car. This is to be welcomed, in our opinion. However, issues such as the closure of the Mancunian Way or failed vehicles on the Metrolink show how vulnerable transport in Manchester is to coming to a standstill when things go wrong, with little alternative routes.

The Mancunian Way may be a divisive piece of infrastructure, but it works. It carries a lot of traffic around inner South Manchester and in various combinations of ways across and around the City Centre. When it shuts, so does Manchester.

Having our trains and trams at full capacity and our cars and buses lodged in peak time traffic is a sign of Manchester’s economic success. There are simply more people travelling to work, to restaurants, bars, shops and places of study. This is arguably a good thing. However, Manchester needs more investment in transport infrastructure so there are better alternatives when things go wrong.

The Second City Metrolink crossing is an example of this in action, allowing more passengers to travel across the City Centre and allowing more flexibility when issues occur.

But more needs to be done. The network needs to be more dynamic to respond to issues. Temporary suspensions of bus lanes travelling out of the regional centre, smart use of traffic lights and use of information signs on the motorway to direct people to Manchester’s excellent Park and Ride systems could have minimised the disruption.

Some of the blame also lies with Manchester’s motorists. Some of the motorists who travel into or across the City Centre by car need to wake up. Driving isn’t a right.

Manchester is adding hundreds of jobs and homes every year to its constrained city centre. Not all of these people can drive into the City Centre. Think London.

We could build new roads, but they’d just fill up. They’d also be horrendous for our city’s environment and built character. Think Birmingham.

Many people are inextricably tied to their polluting, cash-haemorrhaging machines. Many of these would be surprised, should they try two wheels, the train or the Metrolink for a week and see how their cost-free commute stacks up in terms of time, stress, cost and convenience.

Not everyone’s journeys can be catered for by these transport modes, but for those that can, a simple switch to the Metrolink, the bike or the rails would help.

Beetham’s Baby Brother: Work Starts on 27 Storey Axis Tower

Work on the Axis residential tower in Manchester City Centre has resumed. Developer Property Alliance Group announced that the 27 storey residential skyscraper will begin construction, after foundations were laid over 5 years ago.


The plot is situated on Lower Mosley Street, adjacent to Deansgate Locks, Deansgate Castlefield Metrolink Station and the Rochdale Canal.

Today’s announcement is one part of the nearly decade-long evolution of proposals on the site, beginning in 2007 with an 18-storey office tower. Permission was then secured in November 2014 for a  27-storey residential building on the site, which would include  172 residential apartments.


After several announcements on the recommencement of works, Urbanitymcr can confirm that work has started on the site. The first residents are anticipated to move into the scheme in 2018.

The tower is one of several proposed within close proximity to Manchester’s tallest building, the 47 storey Beetham Tower. When completed, Urbanitymcr reckons that a mini skyscraper cluster will start to form in this area. A little bit of Manhattan in Manchester, perhaps!