John Harris

Journalist & Author

Archive for November, 2015

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The great reinvention of Manchester: ‘It’s far more pleasant than London’

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

A median age of 29? The tallest all-steel apartment building in the UK? Actual enthusiasm on the streets? In the latest in his series of urban reports, John Harris marvels at the improbably glitzy revival of England’s second city

Jake Stainton is 23. For his sins, he grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon – but from his late teens onwards, he and a few friends began a once-monthly ritual involving a weekend drive up north, and a “proper night out” in a big city. “We did all the big places: Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield,” he tells me. “But very quickly, Manchester became our go-to place.” They were soon regular visitors, gleefully travelling up the M6, painting the town and staying at the Ibis hotel on Portland Street: “One person would pay for the room and we’d all sneak in there.”

Stainton is now a business student at Manchester Metropolitan University, with a part-time job at Shoot, a video company that operates from a centre for aspiring entrepreneurs called Innospace, full of hot-desking facilities and compact offices, and a palpable sense of go-getting optimism. As evidenced by his breathless enthusiasm for the city in which he now lives, he is also a Manchester evangelist. “I won’t be leaving after my degree,” he tells me. “The opportunities here are fantastic. They say it’s the second business hub outside London. I like the culture up here, and the people. I love the nightlife. It’s just a great city. I can’t see myself going back.”

Its student population of nearly 40,000 gives Manchester’s population a median age of 29

Stuff about needing poverty to get creativity? Absolutely bollocks

Families in Collyhurst are frightened of the state

Related: Can a new Bradford emerge from a hole in the ground?

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Can a new Bradford emerge from a hole in the ground?

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Once a booming textile capital, Bradford has long fallen on hard times. Regeneration efforts have been patchy, but a new shopping centre opens this week. Can it help to overcome the austerity and lazy racial stereotyping that dog the city?

For most of the past 10 years, the centre of Bradford has been dominated by a vast empty space. Some locals called it “the hole in the heart” or the “Bradford Hole”; others knew it as “Wastefield”. It was a huge expanse of rubble and dirt left vacant when the credit crunch and subsequent crash meant that the shopping-centre giant Westfield decided to halt its plans for a huge new development.

Part of the site was eventually used for a temporary “urban garden”. In the summer of 2012, it was also briefly home to a small protest encampment. Now, though, a new Westfield centre called The Broadway – which is around a third smaller than the original design – is finally about to open.

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