21 Oct

Welcome to Manc-hattan: how the city sold its soul for luxury skyscrapers

Giant towers are sprouting up all over Manchester. But how will sky lounges and penthouse olive groves help the city’s rocketing homelessness problem?‘Hell upon Earth” is how Friedrich Engels described Manchester’s Angel Meadow. This violent, squalid, disease-ridden district was one of the worst slums the revolutionary German thinker encountered on his tour of Victorian England. Everything about the place, he wrote in 1844, “arouses horror and indignation”.Visiting today, he might be tempted to use the same words, for very different reasons. On either side of the leafy park, which undulates over the graves of 40,000 Victorian paupers, the bulky concrete frames of new apartment blocks are beginning to rise. They will ultimately become 17- and 22-storey slabs that will in turn be dwarfed by a 41-storey tower, all surrounding the park with a glacial wall of “ultra-sleek urban homes”. And not a single one affordable.This is MeadowSide, a £200m development by the Far East Consortium, a Hong Kong developer registered in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands. This site – once the gateway to medieval Manchester and depicted in the paintings of LS Lowry – is being ripped up to make way for 756 luxury homes, many already sold off-plan to investors in Hong Kong. Brochures in the marketing suite describe it as a place “where glass meets grass and concrete meets conkers”. It’s also where the forces of international capital meet a city seemingly open to investment at any cost. Continue reading…

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