Powerhouse: a person or thing of great energy, strength, or power.
Therefore, a Northern Powerhouse is made up of northern people & businesses – obviously?
Well, not necessarily, it seems. There is an increasing indication of London corporates and monopolists circling, having spotted that there is a pool of untapped potential here, using their undeniable financial muscle to undercut local businesses. Manchester is renowned for it’s love of independent businesses but what happens when the city we’ve branded the Northern Powerhouse suddenly runs out of room for it’s northern counterparts?
There is no doubt that Manchester has benefitted greatly from the forward-looking investment that has seen run-down areas in the City regenerated, with new businesses and new homes in what were once derelict, ‘no-go’ areas. Mancunians have always been a pretty proud & tough bunch in any event but now there is an undeniable sense of uneasiness as we look at the escalating trend of satellite offices popping up around the city. “The regional arm” of corporate offices in London is not always viewed as a welcome hug!
Undeniably, the Docklands development has had a major impact in London but there have been some less beneficial aspects to it that we should be careful we don’t replicate here. The massive property boom and subsequent rise in house prices has led to friction between new arrivals and the existing communities – many of whom complain of being ‘squeezed out’. It has also made for some of the most striking disparities to be seen anywhere in Britain: luxury executive flats constructed alongside run-down public housing estates.
“Manchester…the belly and guts of the nation”, said George Orwell. Progress is crucial but we have to retain our character and individuality, or we stand to lose what makes Manchester so great.