Manchester’s skyline is changing. Fast. While the dominant narrative is that dozens of the buildings transforming this skyline aim to provide more housing in the city centre, the recent report From Homes to Assets: Housing financialisation in Greater Manchester by Dr Jonathan Silver makes clear that these housing developments are overwhelmingly driven by financial institutions and actors who have identified Greater Manchester’s urban core as an attractive site for investment. Indeed, the primary function of these developments is financial speculation. We are witnessing the process of housing financialisation in Greater Manchester. For those concerned about the wellbeing and prosperity of the people living in Greater Manchester, as we are at Steady State Manchester, this poses the question: Does housing financialisation deliver a viable economy?
What is a viable economy?
As we at Steady State Manchester describe in our 2014 report The Viable Economy and in other publications, a viable economy is predicated on a shift in political decisions and societal actions away from the growth-driven instrumental rationality of neoliberal capitalism. Instead, a viable economy demonstrates greater resilience, localisation, and balance as economic activity is treated not an end in itself, but rather as a means to deliver a sufficiently prosperous future without growth. Further, a viable economy subordinates the economic system to the control of society, and organises around cultural attitudes favouring equality, solidarity and cooperation. Finally, a viable economy recognises the finite nature of ecological resources and embraces an ethic of stewardship by minimising imbalances to the planetary systems – including the climate, biodiversity, and nitrogen and phosphorous cycles – upon which human life depends.
“Housing financialisation treats housing as an asset that can, should, and must, generate profit.”
As our members will know, at IPM we spend much of our time conducting research into how we can make better places. Much of this work focuses on the high street, and whilst our towns and cities are clearly operating in a challenging environment, we are always keen to point out that this challenge does not signal their demise. Rather, it is reflective of a shift in how we use them, with retail no longer the critical fulcrum it once was, and it is down to place managers to develop the means of capitalising on this change in demand.
As this realisation sets in, towns and cities are increasingly looking for ways to complement their retail offer, encouraging visitors through other means. One way this is being done is through the development of a cultural offering. This is nothing new – planners and policy makers began to espouse the development of cultural activity in the early 1990s as a means of revitalising cities in the process of de-industrialisation[i], encouraging the rise of the ‘experience economy’[ii]. As a result, culture has, over time, become an increasingly common means of consuming a city[iii]. Continue reading “What can culture and the arts do for a place? “→
The paper aims to understand and describe the development of placemaking in spatial planning. Placemaking is a multi-disciplinary concept including Architecture, Spatial Planning, Geography, Ecology, Tourism, Art, Education and Nursing. Exploring the term “placemaking” from a multitude of viewpoints will allow developing an in-depth understanding of the concept in order to conceptualise global trends with regard to the topic. This exploration is informed by conducting an Integrative Literature Review (ILR). ILR aims at providing an exhaustive description of available research contributions. This exhaustive description includes both theoretical and empirical studies. Appropriate contributions are further explored by following a thematic content analysis and thematic synthesis method. From the thematic content analysis and synthesis, themes and sub-themes can be constructed. These themes and sub-themes are utilised to uncover global trends in research literature. By conceptualising trends, the construction of a comprehensive definition regarding the search-term is possible. Continue reading “Exploring theoretical trends in placemaking”→
‘Evidence-based policy‘ has been a catchword in politics for some time now. It was allegedly coined by the Blair government, which aimed to design policy driven less by ideology and more by scientific evidence. Two decades later the term is still going strong, with calls for ‘evidence-based’ policy being the norm rather than the exception. However, both the terms ‘evidence’ and ‘scientific’ need some clarification when we’re talking about the social sciences, if we want to take evidence-based urban policy seriously. Continue reading “Taking evidence-based policy seriously”→
A discussion about citizen participation is nothing less than a discussion about democracy. Whatever we do, no matter how closely we try to focus and frame the issue, we come back to our basic understanding of democracy: What are the mechanisms through which citizens shape political decisions that concern them?
There is a network of over 4000 miles of inland waterways in the United Kingdom, consisting of a number of tidal and non-tidal rivers, canals, lakes and estuaries, some navigable for vessels of different size, some non-navigable, minor, (almost) forgotten. Of these, canals represent a fascinating result of human fluvial modification of the landscape and the creation of new, socio-natural hydro-landscapes. In this post, I will discuss how canals have been going through substantial and dynamic transformation throughout their existence, where various aspects, such as transportation, dereliction, dwelling or leisure have been in the foreground at different times. Continue reading “Studying linear, watery places: canals in the UK”→
Places are connected to each other, either geographically, technologically, socially or politically. Places also connect people to each other and to other places. Places are formed and managed through both real and virtual partnerships and networks. The theme of the 6th Corfu Symposium on Managing & Marketing Places is to explore these connections between places and the people who use and inhabit them. Submissions of 1000 word abstracts to the Symposium are welcome on issues including, but not limited to:
Real and virtual partnerships, networks and connections within places and between places
Grass-roots participatory place making initiatives
Smart places and virtual worlds
City (and other) regions, and supra-national networks
Physical or virtual places that connect people to each other
Individual places that are connected to each other geographically, technologically, socially, or politically
Places that are connected to art, literature, popular media, culture and heritage, or that are connected to particular industries, geographies, topographies, or activities
Places that have consciously, deliberately, or inadvertently disconnected from others
Places that have consciously, deliberately, or inadvertently disconnected from former or historical place narratives
In the history of urban planning, we have seen regular paradigm shifts that often reflect broader societal developments as much as disciplinary trends and fashions. Few feuds in the discipline have reached the emblematic status that had the one between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs about the future of New York city in the 1960s: Moses, the powerful planner, on the one hand, who believed that only a destruction of the existing structures could lead to better city, and Jacobs, the journalist-turned-activist, on the other, who wanted to protect precisely what the first one sought to extinguish. Jacobs firmly believed that it was the lively streets of her beloved Greenwich Village, the mix of cultures and lifestyles and the animated grittiness of the public space that made cities worth living in.
Journal of Place Management and Development, Volume 11, Issue 2: Special Issue: “Participatory placemaking: concepts, methods and practice”. Editor: Ares Kalandides
Members of the IPM can download the articles for free here.
By Gareth Roberts, Chloe Steadman, Dominic Medway and Steve Millington (Institute of Place Management)
Football stadia as places
When we consider place management in all its incarnations and guises, and the many different types of places that this practice and associated actions can be applied to, the football stadium (and its immediate surrounding environs) is not likely to be amongst the first examples that spring to mind. However, the football stadium is clearly a place, and a place that hosts tens of thousands of visitors on a weekly basis. Therefore, ensuring that it best meets the needs of these people, and provides an environment conducive to a positive experience, is just as important as for towns, cities, or indeed any other place.
Last week in The Netherlands, some 250 place management practitioners and policy makers from across Europe gathered to discuss the future of retail in medium size city centres. In a snap survey of the audience, over half said the retail sector in their town was “troublesome” whilst just 12% described it as “booming”. It is in The Netherlands, however, that some interesting responses are happening.
The event heard from Mona Keijzer, State Secretary of Economic Affairs in The Netherlands, who noted that they have a national retail strategy, the only country in the EU that does so. It also heard from Henk Brink, from the province of Drenthe on how the province is allocating one third of funding to match spending by local authorities and private sector investment to revitalise town and city centres.