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Recognition for IPM work with Manchester District Centres

IPM work with Manchester District Centres

Work by IPM to understand the performance of Manchester’s district centres and make recommendations for future place management strategy has been recognised by the City Council.

Reporting on three years of collaborative work with IPM, a Manchester City Council subgroup of District Centres proposed recommendations to help create vital and viable centres across Manchester.


The IPM has been working with Manchester’s district centres since early 2017, delivering a programme focused on ‘Vital and Viable’ places and working with communities in Chorlton, Gorton, Harpurhey, Northenden and Withington.

The work was designed to support place making interventions, strengthen the local capacity for change, and to help make informed decisions about the future of each place.


In 2015, Council Members agreed that they wanted to develop a more strategic approach to the future management of district centres. They agreed to establish a subgroup to contribute to and review this strategy, working with the Institute of Place Management.

The first task was to understand trends affecting district centres and possible direction of the Subgroup’s work – drawing on consultations with IPM.

Following this, an IPM Place Management Pilot was established to understand the key factors that local centres can influence. Research was undertaken in Chorlton, Gorton, Harpurhey and Northenden, with a view to promoting active collaboration in these centres to bring about change.

The Pilot drew on initial district centre performance assessments by IPM researchers, consultation with local stakeholders, and a report of recommendations.

In addition to recommendations specific to each Centre, the IPM reviewed all the pilots and produced four summary recommendations for the District Centre Subgroup;

  • Work should be undertaken to develop targeted and place specific interventions to build local collaboration

  • Work should be undertaken to increase local capacity to effect change in areas of the city where existing capacity is low

  • Efforts should be devoted to enhancing existing local collaborative networks

  • Monitoring data on centre performance should be collected and shared with partners so that evidence based actions to improve centres could be taken.

The Vital & Viable project has also informed further policy development work through the Area Based Collaborative Entrepreneurship in Cities European Partnership (ABCitiEs). Working in conjunction with Institutions and local authorities in four European cities (Amsterdam, Vilnius, Varazdin and Athens), the project has taken the learnings from the work in Manchester and is now seeking to embed this in local policy.

Working with a further six centres – Withington, Fallowfield, Rusholme, Levenshulme, Victoria Road, and Cheetham Hill – research over the next 12 months will focus on widening our evidence base, developing learning, and the creation of an action plan geared towards influencing local and regional policy.

Next steps

The emerging Manchester Local Plan review will consider the character and individual needs of each centre and policy will be developed to support development that creates multifunctional thriving and attractive centres.

The Economy Scrutiny Committee at the Council, meeting on March 5th, approved the recommendations to be incorporated into local policy.

Further work, however, will be needed to consider options for providing the necessary support to local communities to establish and maintain effective collaborative networks.


About the author


Formed in 2006, the Institute of Place Management is the international professional body that supports people committed to developing, managing and making places better.

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