5 things we want to see in Manchester in 2024 including Co-op Live success and Bee Network progress

Here is our wish list for Manchester as 2023 becomes 2024.
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Manchester has a lot of things to look forward to in 2024 and we also have a lot of achievements from 2023 to be proud of. 

Our city is constantly changing and growing, with new arts venues like Aviva Studios, new city centre developments and regeneration projects in regional town centres. The city has also hosted several international events this year and there are more in the calendar for 2024. In other words, Manchester is well on its way to becoming a major global city. 

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So as we enter a new year and chapter in Manchester’s history, here are some of the things we would like to see for 2024. 

Progress on the Town Hall

It has been almost six years since the Town Hall closed to the public. Prior to its closure, the Grade I listed building was an important municipal space that not only housed the council offices, but also welcomed visitors – you could enjoy afternoon tea in the Sculpture Hall cafe, get married, attend performances, and it even hosted part of the Christmas Markets (which haven’t been the same since they moved from Albert Square). 

It was originally slated for a 2024 reopening, but the last update from the council in July announced that the project could be delayed by a further two years and required around £30million in additional funding. The council are expected to confirm an end date for the Our Town Hall project in January 2024 and we’re hoping for some good news. Parts of Albert Square have started opening up, so hopefully even if we can't visit in 2024, we will at least be able to look at it.

Manchester Town Hall under a scaffolding wrap in December 2022. Credit: Manchester Town Hall.Manchester Town Hall under a scaffolding wrap in December 2022. Credit: Manchester Town Hall.
Manchester Town Hall under a scaffolding wrap in December 2022. Credit: Manchester Town Hall.

Success for the Co-op Live 

2023 saw the opening of Aviva Studios, a new state-of-the-art arts venue, and 2024 will see the opening of another state-of-the-art venue, the Co-op Live Arena. When it comes to concert venues, we already have the AO Arena, the O2 Apollo, the Academies and a whole host of other small and medium-sized venues, not to mention the larger gigs and festivals that take place at the Etihad Stadium, Old Trafford cricket ground, Castlefield Bowl, Bowlers, Victoria Warehouse, Depot Mayfield, Heaton Park and Wythenshawe Park.

This is what the new Coop Live arena will look like. Credit: Coop LiveThis is what the new Coop Live arena will look like. Credit: Coop Live
This is what the new Coop Live arena will look like. Credit: Coop Live
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Manchester is famously a city of music and when it comes to live music venues, the more the merrier. But it’s hard to get excited about it when you consider the acts that have been announced – Barry Manilow, Simply Red, Eric Clapton, Keane, Elbow, Take That. At the moment, the Co-op Live Arena seems to be mainly catering for a specific demographic. 

The new arena has the potential to attract thousands of people to the city, bringing millions to the local economy, while also providing opportunities for people that live in the area, which happens to be among the most deprived in Manchester. But we also deserve a line-up that reflects the diversity of our city and encourages future generations of gig-goers to come here.

Boost for the boroughs

In 2023, several areas across Greater Manchester were awarded much-needed Levelling Up funding and have since started announcing ambitious plans to revitalise struggling town centres. Wythenshawe has £20m for new homes and a town centre revamp, Leigh has £11.3m for its Civic Square and market, Bolton has £20m for the town centre, Denton has £16.7 for its ‘Destination Denton’ project, and Ashton has £11m to overhaul the market square – to name but a few. 

These redevelopments and regeneration plans will take years to complete, continuing well beyond 2024, and there are sure to be some ups and downs along the way, but up-and-coming areas like Stockport are proving that just the promise of better things to come really do help to revitalise these areas.

Ashton outdoor market is set for a massive refurbishment thanks to Levelling Up funding. Ashton outdoor market is set for a massive refurbishment thanks to Levelling Up funding.
Ashton outdoor market is set for a massive refurbishment thanks to Levelling Up funding.

A greener Manchester

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Greater Manchester has an embarrassing track record when it comes to the environment. Earlier this year, a report by the Clean Cities Campaign declared our city the worst in Europe for transport emissions, with low scores across the board for electric vehicle infrastructure, low emission buses and public bikes and scooters. Elsewhere, campaign group Mums for Lungs has warned that the level of nitrogen oxide in the region is 1.3 times the current UK legal limit, and over 5 times the World Health Organisation limit.  

But hopefully 2024 will see an end to the Clean Air Zone saga that has been playing out between Mayor Andy Burnham and the government for well over a year now and Manchester can really start to pull its weight in the fight against climate change. The introduction of the Bee Network and the city-wide push to get more people using bikes and public transport were also supposed to help this, but the rollout has been rocky. However, with more boroughs set to get their yellow buses in 2024, this could all change.  

The Bee Network's yellow buses have been on the roads since SeptemberThe Bee Network's yellow buses have been on the roads since September
The Bee Network's yellow buses have been on the roads since September

Less towers, more public spaces

Plans were recently submitted for what could become the tallest tower in Manchester. At 76 storeys high, this tower would dwarf the neighbouring behemoths at Deansgate Square and create 780 high-end flats. At the same time, a separate building of 23 affordable homes would also be built, according to developer Salboy. 

Progress and modernisation are essential for a city like Manchester, but these decisions need to be made with the people who already live here in mind. Homelessness, although improving, has long been a problem in Manchester and affordable housing is getting harder and harder to find. As developers snap up land in the city centre for luxury hotels, restaurants and homes, more attention is needed to improve our public spaces, repurpose historic buildings and make Manchester a liveable city for people of all walks of life.