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The Ten-Minute City Can Work And We Will Build It, Says Allied London's Mike Ingall

The Factory, the new public-sector funded arts centre at the heart of Manchester's St John's district redevelopment.

Allied London chief executive Mike Ingall has called for a post-coronavirus rethink of the skyscraper-based city living developments that, he said, have blighted parts of London, and blasted development based on land values rather than sustainable communities.

The call comes as Ingall pledged to build the UK’s first truly 10-minute village in Manchester.

“In the UK we must look closely at this trend of using United States and Far East-sized skyscraper precedents to provide our city centre-housing, especially if on the ground we leave undefined urban spaces, or worse still, adjacencies only to highways,” Ingall said in an interview with Bisnow. 

Ingall paints the 10-minute urban village as the antidote to skyscraper-based development.

“Major parts of east and south London have fallen victim to this model and it prevents the formation of any form of sense of community. My view is that if we are to create sustainable cities and liveable communities, we need instead to look towards European models, and maybe not that much further than some good examples in Fulham, Wandsworth and Putney in London.”

Ingall said the green light for the latest co-living developments in St. John’s and Manchester city centre will “close the loop on our plans for the 10-minute village”.

St. John's will be a neighbourhood of 560K SF of workspace, 240K SF of retail and 13 acres of public realm. The development will link the district to the surrounding Deansgate, Castlefield and Spinningfields areas.

“By creating a hyper-local economy and neighbourhood, with work, enterprise, retail, education, healthcare, leisure and cultural facilities within a short walk or cycle, a genuinely self-sufficient ecosystem will develop with little need to leave or take a car journey anywhere.

“Building skyscrapers sold to Far Eastern investors would simply have not been relevant to St. John’s, and I would question whether that would even be relevant to Manchester, but that’s for others to decide,” Ingall said.

Plans for a 54-storey residential and hotel tower at the Manchester's St John's development were ditched in January 2019. Allied London and its partners scrapped it citing "unresolved development issues".

The St John's development as envisaged in 2018

Despite enthusiasm for the live local concept, Ingall signalled doubts about integrating social infrastructure, particularly for children, into the 10-minute village.

“I am concerned as to how we provide all these elements, in particular the education element, but not every city village needs to offer the same amenities. My philosophy for St. John’s is that we serve the community we are building for, which is a young working community which, more often than not, is going to be both dynamic and transient, and therefore our residential development needs to be relevant to the larger piece,” he said.

Integrating a cultural offer into the 10-minute village will be vital, he said.

“The pandemic has brought a feeling of isolation to those that are not in close proximity of everything they enjoy, while the concept of a 10-minute village means that all these things are in walking distance," Ingall said. "Imagine 2023, when we are closer to a new socially integrated normality, and remember that cities are actually for living in. It’s important to remember that many of Manchester’s new requirements are because, for several decades, people forgot that people do still live in cities — we must make them exciting and human.”

The concept of a 10-minute village has and is being adopted to varying degrees across the globe. Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Helsinki all continue to develop to this model, several with firm plans in place to remove cars in an anti-pollution and congestion drive. 

“The 10-minute village concept is important and can be adopted throughout a city," Ingall said. "It can and will be the future route to a sustainable and thriving Manchester, that can be built on the underlying objective of building communities. New districts like Piccadilly East and Mayfield, joining Ancoats and New Islington, can achieve a similar philosophy."