John Harris

Journalist & Author

Why are cities like Manchester excluding so many citizens? | John Harris

As divisions grow between rich and poor, urban planners must find space for those left behind

The image of Manchester as a city full of gleaming new buildings and towering cranes may have become a cliche, but only because it is self-evidently true. The old idea of a faded metropolis whose streets echoed to the sound of murmured complaints and melancholic indie music was buried years ago, under new plazas and walkways: only a month or so ago, the Manchester Evening News reported on plans for new “blocks of 18, 26 and 32 storeys” that would add to a city-centre area already labelled “skyscraper alley”.

But all of a sudden unease about the city’s endless transformation has exploded into the open. Last week the Guardian reported that of the 14,667 homes in “big developments” granted planning permission over the past two years, none were set to meet the official definition of “affordable”. This seemed to be in blatant contravention of the city’s policy that 20% of large developments should be given over to affordable housing; Manchester was now “the 0% city” .

Related: The 0% city: how Manchester developers dodge affordable housing

Beyond the city limits, the last traces of dynamism and enterprise fade to almost nothing

Related: Fool’s gold: Manchester’s housing greed is destroying its cultural heart

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