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Room with a view: A unique insight into the Spinningfields and St John’s development

Women in Planning North West welcomed guests to the striking XYZ building at the heart of Spinningfields, Manchester’s dynamic commercial, social and leisure quarter.  The event brought together key players in the development of Spinningfields and St  John's and reflected on the ingredients for successful urban regeneration.  Hosted and sponsored by Shoosmiths in their award-winning, record-breaking offices, we took in the view over drinks before gathering to hear just how this iconic part of our city came into being and what the future holds.  Chris Reay is Group Property Director at Allied London, who developed and now manages Spinningfields. He took us on a whistle stop tour of the district’s rebirth, starting in 2007 with the Civil Justice Centre. 2018, has seen the sale of the final development plot, No 1 Spinningfields, which features corporate and co-working occupiers and a luxe rooftop restaurant. Chris reflected on the recession-proof character of the area, a result of its top-notch specification and striking design. The final element will be a green space to feature 11,000 plants and pavilion-style buildings hosting the Ivy restaurant. Looking forward, Chris set out plans for the nearby St Johns Quarter, incorporating the former Granada TVstudios. Originally slated for demolition, it quickly became clear that there was a lot of love for the buildings, not to mention demand for studio space. Set alongside this will be a Rem Koolhaas designed theatre, an ideas warehouse, gin distillery, street food market and high quality residential development. We had a glimpse into the logistical design feat of creating such a diverse neighbourhood. John Cooper, Partner at Deloitte Real Estate, reminded us just how far the area has come with a set of old photographs. Despite a striking court building, there were limited active ground floor uses, and no attractions to make this space a visitor destination. John explained how effective one of Manchester’s first Strategic Regeneration Frameworks was in providing a template for the redevelopment of the are and reflected on the planning policy and joint working with Manchester City Council that enabled Spinningfields to emerge.  Samantha Grange from Shoosmiths talked us through the legal essentials of urban regeneration projects. Planning in partnership is an integral component in which good relationships are created with officers and trust is built with local communities. Care must be taken in preparing EIAs and conditions should be carefully scrutinised. The Women in Planning North West Committee would like to thank all our speakers and attendees, as well as our event sponsor, Shoosmiths, for making the evening a great success. 

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