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Regeneration of the North

Ever since former Chancellor George Osborne uttered the phrase ‘Northern Powerhouse’ in 2014, the region has seen a surge of renewed interest and an influx of regeneration projects.

The aim of the Northern Powerhouse concept, essentially, is to address the North-South economic imbalance, attract investment, and create greater ties between major northern cities.

Bringing a population of 15 million together in a better connected, more collaborative arena would make the whole of the North of England substantially economically stronger and a more attractive prospect for investors.

Unsurprisingly, then, travel between the North’s cities is key to bridging the economic gap. The coalition government’s flagship infrastructure project, HS2 improves interconnectivity between the Northern cities of: Leeds, Manchester, Wigan, and Crewe; with another line extending the project’s reach to Carlisle, York, Sheffield, Chesterfield, and Liverpool. As well as improving links and significantly decreasing journey times between the North, the Midlands, and the South.

Devolution is also crucial to the North forging its own path, free from the shackles of central government. Plans are not currently widespread, and there have been questions from regional councils, as to which towns and cities will join to form a larger metropolitan area. There is a case for a ‘pan-Northern’ approach to create a ‘super city’ to harness a £300 billion economy and attract foreign investment.

Both HS2 and the devolution of powers have been catalysts for residential and commercial regeneration projects transforming the North’s cities. Major projects around Manchester include: the regeneration of the City of Salford, renovating the city’s three main train stations (Oxford Road, Piccadilly, and Victoria), and the Factory arts centre. Whilst the cities of the Yorkshire region, will also see extensive changes with: the redevelopment of Headingley Cricket Stadium, the South Bank development that will double the size of Leeds city centre, the regeneration of Sheffield’s Castlegate, and the conversion of Selby’s Kellingworth Colliery into a business park.

Each local project adds to the identity of the cities, and enhances their economy, by appealing to the industries that drive them. Manchester is the fastest growing creative hub outside of London, with growth in the industry job market of 18% over 2 years, and the number of businesses in the sector increasing by 21% over the same period. The Factory arts centre will have a significant impact on the creative industry, which is worth £1.46 billion to the local economy.

Yorkshire’s regeneration of sites of cultural and historical significance, such as Headingley Cricket Stadium and Castlegate (the site of Sheffield Castle, in which Mary, Queen of Scots was forced to live for 14 years) will further encourage tourists to the region. With a tourism industry worth £8 billion, both sites will co-exist well alongside attractions, such as: Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre, Halifax’s Eureka children’s museum, and Doncaster’s Yorkshire Wildlife Park.

HS2, devolution, and local projects are signs of the North’s evolution from a collection of regions competing with one another to working collaboratively. Cohesion and integration mean the North will be better able to support and maintain the growth of its key industries, create employment opportunities, and ensure a sustainable economy.

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