The programme for improving Northmoor developed over several phases between 1998 and 2003.
Developing a vision for Northmoor
Northmoor is part of the Stockport Road Corridor Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) programme and was declared a Renewal Area in 1998. In order to drive physical development and regeneration, a steering group was formed that brought together Manchester City Council, Great Places (then known as Manchester Methodist Housing Association), local residents and businesses.
The steering group commissioned Ian Finlay Architects and Paul Butler Planning Consultants to investigate options for the area. Working with the community, they developed a concept plan, the ‘Vision for Northmoor’, which recommended a holistic approach.
This advocated a focus on environmental and housing improvements, while also involving people through community events and arts projects and appointing urban rangers to help with managing the area.
Involving people in the process
Northmoor is a culturally diverse area and the project’s development featured an intensive series of consultation events, in some cases using interpreters and small focus groups.
Innovative ways were found to involve people in the changes happening in their area. A mini-cinema was set up in a property awaiting renovation which proved a great success with residents. Closing roads to allow works to be carried out gave opportunities to hold barbecues and street parties. The necessary disruptions were turned into something positive and exciting.
Piloting the Homezone approach
In 1998 the Government’s Transport White Paper highlighted the
benefits of the Homezone concept and set out to test it through nationwide pilot projects. The Northmoor steering group submitted a successful bid for an eventual £1.04 million through the Homezone Challenge Fund.
The first phase used £650k from Manchester City Council’s budget for regenerating private sector housing and £100k from the Local Transport Plan (£100k). Proposals for the street layouts were developed by the design team and tested with residents throughout. The favoured approach was to create ‘green streets’, which would provide informal recreation and play areas.
The Homezone contract was managed by Great Places, who contracted the council’s Manchester Engineering Design Consultancy (MEDC) to deliver the scheme. MEDC organised funding for further phases, which included £1.5 million from the City’s Neighbourhood Renewal Fund allocation.
The use of council rather than third party funding streams meant that management was less constrained by the requirements of other agencies.
Providing neighbourhood management
Great Places owned approximately one-third of the properties in the area, with the two other thirds split between owner-occupiers and private landlords. Their involvement focused both on improving their stock and maintaining an effective neighbourhood management role.
Internal upgrade work to Great Places stock meant relocating residents within the area. Elsewhere, compulsory purchase orders were used for the larger, new-build properties.
There was some scepticism about the Phase 1 design proposals for new-build. A full-size mock-up of the alternative designs helped people assess the proposals and won support for the overall neighbourhood approach.