Tuesday 4 November 2014

Manchester: a "Northern Powerhouse"

The announcement yesterday from the Chancellor that we need a "Northern Powerhouse" in England was greeted with much enthusiasm - and also a good bit of cynicism, given that it's not far from the General Election. After the announcement, the BBC asked whether more English cities should be like Manchester. What I wanted to know was how this nascent northern powerhouse compared to the already established southern one (London, I think). We all know the numbers - well most do - but what about spatial scale, density and visual comparisons? Given a previous bit of mapping on the urban fabric of England and the fact that I've been thinking about the 'underbounded' nature of the City of Manchester (as opposed to the city region), I thought I'd go a bit further with this post.

The first image here shows how Greater London compares to Greater Manchester - they're mapped at the same scale - and I've also put the Greater Manchester boundary over Greater Manchester and vice versa, just to show that they're not that radically different in size.

Greater Manchester - a large urban area (higher res version)

I've also produced the same image without the respective boundaries overlaid on each city, just to provide a quick visual comparison at the same scale.

Click for higher resolution image

Finally, in order to demonstrate the way in which the City of Manchester is really 'underbounded' in relation to its wider city region, I've shown just the urban fabric of the City of Manchester (i.e. building footprints) in relation to the ten local authority areas of Greater Manchester, beside Greater Manchester as a whole. 

Click for bigger version

I have some even higher resolution images if anyone is interested - if so, feel free to get in touch via e-mail or twitter (@undertheraedar). I just wanted to produce these images to illustrate the fact that Greater Manchester is actually very big (about 80% of the size of Greater London in area) though of course has far fewer people (about 33% of the population). It does seem like the most likely 'northern powerhouse' in England and it will be very interesting to see how things pan out over the coming years.