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“From the outset, the team developed a fresh and innovative approach which sought to avoid a ‘one size fits all approach’. We wanted to create a Residential Quality Guidance which is engaging to all, grounded in the distinctive sense of the place that is Manchester, and which addresses quality at all stages of a development’s lifecycle. This was made successful through collaborative working, a forward thinking client and a high calibre steering group. The guidance is flexible and adapts to align with ongoing strategic objectives around the delivery of high quality homes, streets and neighbourhoods needed to support Manchester’s future sustainable growth.”
- John Copper, Partner, Deloitte Real Estate

Manchester City Council appointed a multi-disciplinary team led by Deloitte Real Estate (Planning), together with Planit-IE (Urban Design) and CallisonRTKL (Architecture) to prepare the first Manchester Residential Quality Guidance Document. The Council identified a need for clear and accessible residential quality guidance that provides a fit-for-purpose and dynamic development management tool, which will ultimately be hooked into future strategic policy. Given the significance of the guidance and being the first of its kind, it was deemed appropriate to enter it into the North West RTPI Planning for Excellence Award 2017. Since entering, the Residential Quality Guidance has and won the RTPI Planning for Excellence Award for Innovation.

Collaboration to foster innovative thinking
To produce the Manchester Residential Quality Guidance (MRQG), the multi-disciplinary team led by Deloitte Real Estate worked collaboratively to produce a well-considered guidance document that will help shape the future of residential development in Manchester. Alongside the multidisciplinary team was a sounding board panel, which acted as a ‘critical friend’ throughout its preparation, providing the required due diligence in respect to quality and comprehension.The sounding board comprised a mixture of industry leading professionals from the private and public sector including; developers, architects and town planners; providing a forum to discuss the best way to address complex tensions often found in the delivery and operation of

The sounding board comprised a mixture of industry leading professionals from the private and public sector including; developers, architects and town planners; providing a forum to discuss the best way to address complex tensions often found in the delivery and operation of the residential development. The approach was hugely effective; achieved through genuine collaboration between all parties who were aligned to the Council’s clear overarching objective for the Guidance.

The Guidance includes a range of innovative elements that originated from the consultant team and evolved through the collaborative approach with the Sounding Board. These ideas were also tested with a range of targeted consultees, including focus groups (young professionals, families, the elderly and students), as well as industry experts.

A different approach to planning guidance
The MRQG seeks to provide clear direction on what is required to deliver sustainable neighbourhoods of choice where people want to live, raising the quality of life across the City. It is designed to be particular to Manchester, and to strike a balance between prescription and non-prescription, and is predicated on a qualitative approach so as to harness the distinctive and innovative culture and heritage of the city.

The overarching theme of the MRQG is the principle of ‘Comply or Justify’. In this respect, deviation from the compliance elements within this document must provide robust and evidence-based justification. Accordingly, developers and their design teams must demonstrate that the scheme will deliver a finished project of the very highest quality that aligns with the thrust of what this Guide seeks to achieve.

The MRQG uniquely promotes the need to deliver and maintain residential quality throughout the lifetime of proposed buildings, which is contrary of the status-quo where most guidance stops at planning permission. In this respect, the MRQG includes sections that focus on construction and operational management, requiring applicants to front load information in accordance with the guidance so as to provide the Council with certainty that quality will be achieved.

Since being published, the MRQG has been widely commended by those working within the property sector and has gathered interest from other Local Authorities and central Government. Winning the North West RTPI award for Planning Excellence for Innovation provides further recognition of the significance and importance of the guidance document which could influence residential development throughout Greater Manchester in the future.

Summary
From its inception, the production of the MRQG has been underpinned by collaboration and innovation. It has been guided by Manchester City Council’s aspiration to produce a new form of residential guidance that provides clear direction on what is required to deliver sustainable neighbourhoods of choice where people want to live, raising the quality of life across the City.

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