I visited Manchester for the first time around 10 years ago.
My first glimpse of the city centre was a huge ‘I heart MCR’ poster on the side of a distant building, which I didn’t think much of at the time but, looking back, was fitting. I have yet to spend time anywhere else that can rival Manchester’s sense of identity and community.
That tight-knit community shone through this week when a host of property players jumped to the aid of Greater Manchester’s mayors, pledging their support to the new #OneGM campaign, which hopes to raise money to support the people and businesses most affected by the tier three Covid-19 restrictions the area entered into last week.
Bruntwood was one of the first businesses to ask Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham what it could do to help. Its chief executive Chris Oglesby said that while the developer deals mostly in offices, it was the cultural tapestries their buildings were nestled in that brought household names knocking. “They are the lifeblood of the very places we’ve created,” he said. “If they go, our buildings are much less attractive.”
Other members of the great and good of Manchester’s property scene are also supporting #OneGM, including local agency OBI Property and developer Capital & Centric.
I managed to snatch 10 minutes with Burnham between a radio interview and a television appearance and he sang the sector’s praises. From hotels opening rooms to house NHS staff to Capital & Centric co-founder Tim Heatley chairing the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity, he said support from the city’s propcos had been “fantastic”, adding: “I really want to emphasise that the property industry is part of our family. They are always there to help, and it is so appreciated.”
Cynics would argue that, of course, he would say that – he wants their money. But the point is, that money was always coming. These businesses aren’t just paying lip service; they want to help. And boy does the city’s hospitality sector need that help. Gary Neville, another backer of the #OneGM campaign, said his Hotel Football was “decimated” with no football season or corporate events, adding that the 10pm curfew then “drove a bus” right through it.
Thankfully, it isn’t all bad news for tier three cities. The residential experts I spoke to for this week’s North West market report predict that people spending even more time at home will drive developers to build better-quality homes and stop putting up “glass boxes”. Regardless of what happens, you can be sure of one thing: Manchester went into tier three restrictions fighting and it will come out of them fighting, too.
Countdown to RESI
You can also expect a lot of fighting talk at the RESI Convention, which takes place in less than a fortnight on 10-11 November. Now a fully virtual event, it boasts a stellar speaker line-up. As well as secretary of state for housing Robert Jenrick, the jam-packed agenda features CEBR’s Vicky Pryce and some of the biggest names in housing. One of the highlights promises to be a CEO panel debate with Rob Perrins from Berkeley Group, Peter Truscott from Crest Nicholson, Geeta Nanda from Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing, Richard Simpson from Watkin Jones and Marc Vlessing from Pocket Living.
To find out more, take a look at our special 12-page RESI insert in this issue. I hope to (virtually) see you there!