Terry Farrell has taken on one of Britain's most ambitious urban design exercises, overseeing a citywide masterplan for the whole of Manchester.
The project was commissioned to trigger a widespread economic renaissance throughout Greater Manchester and its surrounding Lancashire hinterland. Farrell will take charge of the architectural and design phases of this wider initiative, which aims to transform the city into a 'Knowledge Capital'.
The urban design project - which goes hand in hand with a review of 'governance' and 'enterprise' - will centre on 'coherence, livability and place-making' throughout the city. It will focus detailed planning in a massive 'arc of enterprise' that will take in an area that stretches from Salford University to Piccadilly Station, including the Oxford Road.
Farrell told the AJ that the decision to undertake the project had grown out of a commission to review the city's transport strategy.
'There is no point in simply looking at transport without creating a wider masterplan, ' he said.
He added that the project was 'fascinating', providing an unusual opportunity to masterplan a '19thcentury mercantile city that was never planned in the first place'.
Council leader Howard Bernstein agreed that the exercise was essential for the city's future.
'This agenda is challenging, but we are confident that our unique approach of translating economic and social objectives into deliverable spatial and masterplanning tools will succeed, ' he said.
However, the Manchester Society of Architects president, Simone Ridyard, said it was disappointing that an architect with a presence in the city had not been picked.
'Like any architect of quality, Terry Farrell's input into Manchester is welcome, ' she said. 'However, experienced and proven architects in the city, such as Ian Simpson and Stephenson Bell, have made valuable contributions to the regeneration of the city. Surely their individual and collective qualification to continue this work far outweighs that of Farrell?'