Redefining Place – A Keynote Event

27.06.2018 | Redefining Place – A Keynote Event

In the last 20 years we have seen a complete transformation of UK regional cities, with decades of industrial decline replaced by flourishing regeneration schemes and booming popularity.

Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds and other regional centres have progressed beyond the best hopes of civic leaders in the 1970s and 80s when riots and urban decay were commonplace. And yet our cities still face big challenges – especially around making regeneration happen outside the core shopping and business districts.

This reality sits behind an event Influential is helping our client Grant Thornton, one of the country’s leading business advisory groups, bring to life at Manchester Metropolitan University on July 12.

“Grant Thornton has set its reputation alongside a bold purpose – to create a ‘Vibrant Economy,” said Chris Hulme, a director at Influential. “That’s an economy which does much more to unlock the potential for economic growth and one which creates communities where no one gets left behind. As part of this campaign, and in partnership with MMU, the firm has brought together a group of leaders who know well the challenges of urban renewal. Their stories are inspiring and show some of the different ways change can be achieved.”

Foremost among these is the entrepreneur Nick Johnson, whose inspired reimagining of Altrincham Market as an independent food and drink destination has catalysed the town centre and won widespread acclaim.

In his career Nick Johnson has taught at Yale, chaired Marketing Manchester and served as a commissioner for Chartered Association of Building Engineers. He was a director of the developer Urban Splash for 15 years before taking the plunge with his vision for his home town. His latest project, Mackie Mayor, has seen him add further choice, verve and colour to Manchester’s Northern Quarter, where his team of traders are based in a converted former meat market.

Nick will be joined by Ciara Keeling, of Bruntwood, one of the major players developing Manchester’s Oxford Road Corridor and in particular its landmark Circle Square scheme. This 1.2m sq ft project will create an entirely new neighbourhood based around a new green space in the heart of the city centre’s innovation district.

Featuring highly contemporary workspace, designed to enable conversation and collaboration, Circle Square is one of Manchester’s most important new developments, delivering 1m sq ft of commercial office space, 1,281 new homes and 100,000 sq ft of ground floor retail and leisure space for shops, studios, bars and restaurants. It is a joint venture between Bruntwood and Select Property Group. Ciara will talk about Bruntwood’s ambition to create “a place like no other” at Circle Square, as well as its belief in creating connected communities, which place health and well-being at their core.


Sporting institutions have also shown how they can revitalise an area – and the panel features Pete Bradshaw, director of infrastructure and estates at Manchester City FC,  who played a central role in delivering an investment plan that has helped transform the community around the football club’s home in east Manchester. From creating new jobs and facilities at the world-class City Football Academy – the multi-million pound youth development and first-team campus which was built on a polluted brownfield site next to the Etihad Stadium – to the education and health benefits the club’s out-reach programme delivers to the local community.

Professor Cathy Parker of Manchester Metropolitan University is also joining the panel. An expert on retail and marketing, Cathy is also Director of the Institute of Place Management, the professional institute for all those involved in making places better. She has been an academic advisor and contributor to the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Town Centre Management, and will be able to give an insight into the policy strategies and best practice deployed globally to create effective places.

The Redefining Place event will be chaired by former journalist Michael Taylor and takes place on Thursday July 12th, 6-8pm at MMU on Oxford Road. There is no cost to attend, but places are limited so please see registration details on this link:—external-contacts.asp