Chris Brown on what the rest of the UK can learn from Manchester
Manchester had the industrial revolution first, experienced inner city urban decline first and has been first in urban regeneration since the late 1980s. It has been both a test bed and a seed bed for new ideas and for people.
The so-called "Manchester urban regeneration mafia" is a direct, if somewhat delayed, result of the industrial revolution. And although many of its members are still in Manchester there is a diaspora delivering some of the most innovative regeneration projects across the country from London's Olympics to Liverpool's City of Culture.
So what lessons have been learned? Manchester was slow to start in regeneration because of local political resistance to urban development corporations, but then was first with City Challenge, became expert at the single regeneration budget and again was first with urban regeneration companies and other government initiatives.
Manchester has learned the lesson that, to secure funds from central government, it is necessary to build up strong relationships between public and private sectors and always to have a regeneration programme ready to go.
Manchester has also learned the importance of land ownership. After one false start, the Ancoats urban village has led the way in showing the power of regional development agencies' compulsory purchase powers.
Manchester has learned that it is necessary always to have a programme ready to go
In design, too, lessons are being learned. The value of historic buildings, public art and high quality design is being demonstrated in Ancoats, by the B of the Bang sculpture at Sport City and by Urban Splash in New Islington.
In marketing, lessons have been learned very publicly. Under-resourced and bureaucratic city marketing has been replaced with some risk taking in the appointment of Peter Saville as the city's branding guru. And although there is still a way to go, the city's image is generally positive among many of its key audiences.
The lesson of the moment is probably the importance of the creative and knowledge industries. The creative community of the Northern Quarter, the university-based knowledge industries, the whole Madchester scene, all underpinned by fast growing city living, will help the city to compete globally.
There are probably two overriding lessons from Manchester. The first is that city government has to learn from its mistakes. The second is that leadership is critical. Howard Bernstein and his team at Manchester council may have made some mistakes but have learned quickly from them, and have delivered some of the best regeneration in the country. They will, no doubt, make more mistakes but they will also deliver many more superb regeneration projects in the future.
Chris Brown is chief executive of Igloo Regeneration Fund