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Paul Longshaw and Mike Taylor

Pendleton Together: Self cynical. Radical. Curious. Ironic. Brutal. Wonderful.

Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Pendleton, then known as Salford Precinct, was the subject of a comprehensive development plan that looked at replacing the traditional housing that was built to support the Industrial Revolution.

This stock had become worn out, unfit and was even mentioned in Robert Robertson’s  'The Classic Slum'.

Paul Longshaw: “I imagine that it was quite an intense period of clearance, a ‘brave new world’ characterised by experimental brutal architectural design in terms of buildings and place. So back to back terrace dwellings became multi-storeys and maisonettes, there were potential roadways in the sky, in fact, it was insular and isolated, it was perhaps designed by a road traffic engineer as it wasn’t exactly the most attractive solution.”

Since then, the area has been picked apart and changed. The area that once existed, for all its flaws, was completely unrecognisable. The only things that remained untouched were St. Pauls Paddington Church on the Broadwalk and the Paddock Pub. Apart from that it was completely cleared.

John Cooper Clarkers - image courtesy of Sanchez and McCormack

With government and economic changes in the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was a population decline as we lost the traditional industries of Salford, unemployment grew, poverty was not dealt with and it became an increasingly difficult place to live. People chose not to live there and it slowly declined.

Paul continues the story: “There was some demolition, there was some improvement and there was replacement but it was all done in a piecemeal way. So rather than connecting places, it was actually doing the opposite. It had seen all kinds of investment programmes – but they were un connected and it didn’t work. Services and schools closed and it became a place where vacancy rates and crime rates were high.”

In the early part of the 21st Century, Salford started to change again. It was a place of great opportunity. There was the development on Chapel Street, the university was right on the doorstep, MediaCityUK and Salford Quays were changing significantly and Langworthy was developing through Housing Renewal including Chimney Pot Park development. This may have seemed like progress, but Pendleton was actually left as a space in the middle where things were going on around it but nothing was happening within it.

Paul explains how things in Pendleton started to change: “In 2003, we took another, more strategic look at the area, taking a long-term view on what we needed to do. We started to develop a policy framework and talked about potential drawdown of investment and what we would need to do. In early 2004 we started discussions with residents about how they felt about Pendleton now, what did they want it to be, what were the issues, the strengths and so on. We also involved key partners who were operating in or at the edges of the area.

“We devised a policy framework, an investment framework and a private finance initiative. This would refurbish 1,250 homes to a high standard including a slug of money to maintain those homes to the improved standard for a further 26 years and also act as a catalyst to attract new investment in terms of new homes and new spaces. In 2008 we successfully secured the central government investment that was needed to move forward.

"Also in that year we started a competitive dialogue, which is basically a procurement competition where we invited consortiums to come together to outline our planning policy and framework and ask them what they could do in terms of developing a masterplan for Pendleton. Plans have emerged with the community so that people can take advantage of the good things that the regeneration will bring. After a long wait people now have a real sense of what will be; a great place, spaces for people to enjoy. Home.”

Pendleton by Larry Pants

The result of this process was a competition between five consortiums to find one winner: Pendleton Together. It’s made up of a housing organisation – The Together Housing Group, a construction partner – Keepmoat, and the city council.

The masterplan uses community engagement to develop a new place. Within that, there’s the refurbishment of homes and phases of new development, starting with the area around Amersham Street. And it’s a long-term process – the development programme runs for 10-15 years and, in that time, it’ll see 1,600 new mixed tenure homes – 500 affordable rented and 1,100 intermediate housing.

There’s also a focus on creating new spaces, new green routes, new infrastructure and new opportunities for community initiatives such as community orchards, grow your own and so on, to encourage residents to take pride in and ownership of the space.

Salford University joined the Pendleton Together partnership in 2013. Mike explains where the university’s interests lie: “In terms of a partnership strategy, it’s all about learning and knowledge exchange. Our ambition is to know as much about Pendleton Together as the partners do collectively. Obviously it’s on our doorstep. The way we talk about the programme internally is that it’s a ‘living laboratory’ – this means we can support the council and the partners in delivering evidence-based decisions based on academic research and also engage the students with real life issues and problem solving tasks. So, it’s academic rigour with the creativity of the students.

”There are currently 14 projects underway, covering the various schools, subjects and specialisms at the university. “How it works is that we come across an area where we think the university can support the partnership,” explains Mike. “Then we look internally at academic expertise, the delivery vehicle for transferring knowledge, so whether we’re going to commission a piece of research or prepare a student live brief. That’s then commissioned formally by the partnership and then delivered.

"The university sometimes has an instinctive feel that something needs looking at so we’ll do a ‘proof concept’, for example examining an area such as virtual reality. We don’t know how it would work or how well it would work, from an academic point of view we’re pushing the boundaries, so we’re going to try it out on a small level. The university has matched funds from the partnership for a three to four month project, which we can then use to engage the different stakeholders involved.

“The university is absolutely focused on teaching and research. Developing our research excellence, improving our students experience & their employability are our top priorities. By being more enterprising in our teaching and research through industrial engagement we can deliver against these priorities whilst also contributing significantly to the economy and society locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. The university's priorities are very much aligned with Pendleton Together’s strategic aims of improving the lives of the people of Pendleton over the next 25 years. Our contribution towards this strategic aim is to support them along the way with well researched evidenced based decision making and to give them access to the creative minds of the future – our students.”

The 14 projects range from archaeological digs, guerrilla gardening and filming a documentary to visioning the dementia care homes of the future and examining the psychological impact of the partnership on residents’ well being. We’ll be taking a closer look at many of these projects on Platform in the future.