The City Centre Welcome: PUBLIC REALM & URBAN SPACES Smart Class 2023 Retrospective


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CityCo, the Manchester Business Improvement District and the Accommodation Business Improvement District represent and work with 1000s of businesses across a range of sectors, including office occupiers, the night-time economy, property development, retail, leisure, hospitality, and culture.

As interconnected organisations, CityCo, The Manchester BID and the new Accommodation BID are progressing towards an improved City Welcome. The City Welcome sounds like a simple enough concept. “Manchester should make you feel like you have arrived somewhere special”, says CityCo Manchester’s Partnership Director Alex King-Byatt. “Business tells us Manchester should be cleaner, greener, safer and friendlier”.

So, tactically, how does CityCo deliver those very basic concepts “in a city where private and public spaces blend, where objectives can clash, where you have no control, and where the public purse is already under huge pressure?”. What can CityCo do that is obvious, impactful and delivers a sustained improvement?

Alex’s keynote at PUBLIC REALM & URBAN SPACES Smart Class 2023 explored how the Operations team, which includes the Business Crime Reduction Partnership, is working on the ground to develop and deliver their approach to The City Welcome.

Summary of presentation highlights:

  • What is Manchester Today? Standing – e.g. 3rd most visited destination in the UK, named ‘the UK’s most liveable city’, UK’s 2nd largest creative/digital/tech hub, home to the ‘Bee Network’ (an integrated London style smart transport system) etc; Growth Forecasts – e.g. city centre employment of 315,000 by 2040, 20,000 new homes built in Manchester and Salford city centres over past 6 years etc; Tourism – worth £9 billion in 2020, largest UK hotel market outside London, 3rd busiest UK airport etc; Cultural Venues & Spaces – Factory international arts centre, Manchester Town Hall restoration, AO Arena redevelopment etc; Retail – city centre ranked by Colliers as top UK retail and leisure destination, annual sales over £900 million, 40 million pre-pandemic annual footfall in BID central retail district etc; Education – largest UK University, 100,000 students; Office Development – e.g. 1.3 million sq. ft. of new office space under construction; Population Trends – e.g. 20,000 moved into city centre in the past decade and 10% more by 2025, 7.2 million people live within an hour’s drive of the city centre etc;
  • CityCo Membership – Business needs led; Annual fee; Account managed; Project/sector led; Stakeholder relationships; Placemaking; Resilience;
  • MCR Retail, Hospitality & Office BID – Business plan led; Five-year levy; Event focused; PR and profile focused; Operational support;
  • Accommodation BID – Statutory accommodation Charge; Business tourism; Leisure tourism; The City Welcome; Clean, green and hosted;
  • Attracting Visitors – Residents, students, tourists, those on business and people who work in Manchester;
  • How do we attract visitors on a strategic scale? Aviva Studios; The Treehouse Hotel (Deansgate); The National Trust Viaduct (green elevated accessible walkway, redefining what urban gardens will look like in a big city); Diecast (a “Meanwhile Space” project); Mayfield Park (a privately owned public space); Coop Live etc;
  • Delivering exciting events in the public realm – Gardening festival; Supporting Pride; Integrating and supporting local grass roots charities; Big family friendly events (e.g. Halloween); ‘living portraits’ showcase; Achieving huge AVE (advertising value equivalency) reflected back to the stakeholders invested in CityCo;

  • Improving the Environment;
  • Business Crime Reduction Partnership – Delivering a business intelligence led secure network: Managing risk; Managing offenders; Escalating issues; Challenging service failures; Problem solving; Professional witnesses; Compliance led;
  • Reality on the streets/Improving the first impression – Deploying reactive teams for street washing, stream cleaning, removal of throwaway vape stickers etc; Affects of stickering on new assets in the public realm;
  • BID Cleansing Priorities 2023-2028 – 1) Litter Picking 2) Hazardous waste removal 3) Graffiti/Sticker & flyposting removal 4) Doorway and fire exit sanitising 5) Painting 6) Deep Cleansing 7) Waste point sanitising 8) Hanging baskets & Greening;
  • Location mapping of CityCo businesses; Account managing overflowing gullies, shortages of litter bins etc; Putting the case forward to city council on behalf of multiple businesses to ensure understanding of business needs;
  • Collaborating with the Community – Working with Figen Murray towards ‘Martyn’s Law’ to ensure public safety at venues; Working with the night-time/licensed economy e.g. to improve women’s safety, achieve cleaner streets and safer waterways; Working with the fire brigade and law enforcement; Community garden projects etc;
  • Street Engagement Hub – A radical approach to street engagement in Manchester/working together to support people off the streets: drug & alcohol services, housing & benefit advice, accommodation, first aid and medical care;
  • The Real Change MCR fund; Addressing rough sleeping in private spaces; Holding utilities to account in the public realm etc;
  • Partners – Marketing Manchester, Greater Manchester Police, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), Manchester Accommodation BID, CityCo, Manchester City Centre Business Improvement District, Real Change MCR, Manchester City Council, Manchester BCRP etc

If you meet our regular delegate qualification criteria but were unable to join us at The Shipping Office (Lloyds House), Manchester, for the live in-person event on July 4th, CLICK HERE and complete the short “Download form” (located at the bottom of the post) to receive a unique link enabling free access to the presentation video recordings and slides (including the film footage and slides from Alex’s keynote).

Those qualifying to receive the rich presentation content from this event include commissioning, procurement, trialling, partnering and policy leads, senior influencers, strategic decision makers, planners, place makers, architects, green space managers, urban designers, highways & street scene, transport & mobility and high streets & regeneration professionals from councils and local authorities (city, borough, metropolitan, district, county and combined); people and place partnerships; developers, landowners and creators of privately owned public spaces; prime contractors and city centre management companies; DfT, DEFRA, MHCLG, EA and supporting governmental bodies; transport authorities, highways agencies and public transport operators; civic organisations and community groups; and other key players from the public realm ecosystem with responsibility for managing, maintaining and operating our streets, squares, forecourts, parks, pathways, retail centres, car parks, airports, ports, travel hubs, hospitals, housing estates, campuses, communal gardens and the assets contained within these public or semi-public spaces.

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PUBLIC REALM & URBAN SPACES Smart Classes show key buyer side stakeholders how to harness innovation, technology, data science, design and best practice to create the next generation of smarter spaces and places in our cities and regions. PUBLIC REALM & URBAN SPACES Smart Class 2023 will be hosted in Manchester on July 4th.


   Manchester, UK

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