Two decades or so ago, when you could have fitted the whole city centre population into Manchester Central with room to spare. A good politician could have shaken hands with most of them. In other words, the population was less than five thousand. Take it thirty years back and there were just a couple of hundred people living in the city centre. They could have all gone to a big pub for a pint together.
A new report, by Deloitte Real Estate, shows how things have changed. Deloitte looked at central Manchester and Salford around Trinity Way and Chapel Street, as well as the university districts of both cities. Apparently, by the end of 2021, there will be more than 100,000 people living in that area. This is a spectacular rise.
The report also found that 58% of the new residences, which by the way are nearly all apartments, will be two bedroom, meaning the target audience will tend to be transient, here for a few years and then off. There is little sign the developers see people creating permanent roots and planning to bring up families in the central areas.
Indeed, Deloitte noted that the last time anybody looked in 2016, there were only 100 children in the whole of the Deansgate and Piccadilly wards. If the city is serious about a balanced central population then where are the schools and the playgrounds?
The rush to invest in residential is top heavy in the scheme of things. 48% of all construction is residential and just 13% office. There’s also 9% hotel construction and just 3% educational and research, while there’s also 3% student residential. The decline of town centre shopping is underlined by the news that just 1% of construction is for retail and leisure.