Mayfield: Manchester's future rethought



By Richard Upton, Deputy Chief Executive, U+I

The creation and delivery of a game-changing new district for a major city requires just the right measure of patience and impatience.

We will deliver 24 acres of spectacular architecture and open space at Mayfield, furnishing opportunities to a diverse range of people, cultural organisations, communities and businesses, all of whom will help us breathe into this place the creativity and enterprise which Mayfield – and Manchester – demand.

But such projects are not delivered overnight and at U+I we are always impatient to create impact and to deliver value to communities as soon as we possibly can. Like yesterday.

That’s why we drive worthwhile use, finding partners who can help us bring long forgotten places back to life, respectful of local wants and needs and respectful, always, of the history which has been entrusted to us.

And that worthwhile use plays a critical part in the evolving identity and character of the places we create. Its place-making effect is organic; a growing process rather than an imposing process. Who are we, after all, to impose on Manchester? Mayfield will be what its residents, visitors and occupiers make it. With a little helping hand from us, granted.

But worthwhile use does something else, also. It allows time to listen and observe as we bring forward the long-term development vision we have for a place. We learn from these conversations.

In the case of Mayfield, that vision is hugely ambitious: to be a place which is recognised globally for the quality of its architecture, its creativity, its inclusivity. A magnet for the best employers in the world. And for families. And for those who want to fall in love. An authentic place which marries the past, present and future in effective symphony. A powerhouse for innovation.

But it’s a 10-year vision. And that’s where patience comes in. Because we are cognisant, always, that we are creating a place not just for 10 years’ time but for 100 years’ time.

What that means is that we have go way beyond the curve and plan for our children and their children. We have to be prepared to rethink what Manchester might require in the future and what our communities, in all their glorious diversity, might want and need.

Future generations are always rebellious. Parents know this. It’s the job of children to take risks. And the job of parents to grant them the space to do so.

So at Mayfield our horizons are both near and distant. Deliver value to our city now. Now. And build something which will be relevant and right when our grandchildren are taking their risks.

It’s an approach which is also grounded in commercial realities. The best businesses in the world want to be located in a spectacular environment. Because that’s where the most creative and talented people want to be. The best businesses are always rethinking and reinventing the future, too.

Create something distinctive, too, because in the global competition to attract the best employers, you have to stand out in what is an increasingly flat world.

Working with our partners, Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and LCR, our vision for Mayfield includes thousands of new homes, new offices, a hotel and retail and leisure spaces. It will also encompass the creation of new public realm to connect Mayfield to Piccadilly Station and its hundreds of thousands of passengers.

And at the heart of Mayfield, with the River Medlock flowing through it, will be an incredible new public park. One designed to give a real sense of freedom, a place for minds to wander and a space to dream.

Manchester’s very first city centre park.

That will be just one element of Mayfield which will be distinctive and future-proof.

Because if there’s one we’re sure of, it’s that in 100 years’ time, people will still be drawn to nature and play. We’re only human, after all.