Connections are key to the North West’s success

12.10.22 3 min read by Phil Mayall

In the midst of some of the fastest-changing and challenging times we’ve ever experienced, I’ve been reflecting on the region’s strengths and opportunities, and what it will take for the North West to continue to thrive into the future.


One word that sums it up for me is ‘connections’. We have strong, expanding regional centres, which need to connect with the outlying town and district centres. We need to make the most of opportunities along the growth corridor that runs out towards Wigan, Bolton and Oldham. We need more focus on these town and district centres, to ensure they’re meeting the needs of local people.

Some of our most deprived areas are right on the doorstep of our thriving commercial centres. We need to connect investment with the areas that need it most and use it to solve problems for local communities.

Putting it into practice

We can already see this starting to happen, for example in Wythenshawe, Mayfield and Collyhurst and with our own Crescent Salford partnership through ECF with Salford Council and Salford University. Crescent is all about connecting people and places. There we are creating a truly connected, sustainable and inclusive area for the future, through the delivery of thousands of new homes, innovation and business space, shops, amenities and a new multi-modal transport hub with active travel at its heart, set within vast areas of green space.

Over in Stockport, our long-standing relationship with the council has transformed a key gateway site, connecting the train station with the rest of the town centre and paving the way for further investment into the borough. It’s rewarding and exciting to see the ripple effect around the town centre, and the sheer quantum of activity now underway.

In Prestwich, we’re working with Bury Council to repurpose an outdated shopping centre, to make it work for local people and provide what the community needs into the future.

It’s extremely sobering to read statistics which show such vast differences in life expectancy, even within the North West. Levelling up isn’t just about the North/South divide, it’s about improving lives and building a brighter future for communities across the regions.

So how do we achieve this? Through connections. Relationships. Collaboration. Partnership. Call it what you will, the only way to level up and reach these areas and communities is meaningful and long-lasting partnership between the public and private sectors.

We need to understand each other’s aims and aspirations to solve problems, bring investment and create sustainable places for people to live, work and spend time in.”

Working together

Our ECF joint venture with Homes England and Legal & General has long focussed on and invested in areas which were traditionally overlooked by the private sector alone. The partnership, which recently extended its life a further ten years to 2036, has regenerated and rejuvenated areas of Liverpool and Salford, building homes and creating places which positively contribute, socially and economically, to the region.

In St Helens, the partnership has joined forces with St Helens Council and formed a long-term relationship, which is revitalising, repurposing and regenerating a number of sites across the borough. Building on the rich history and unique attributes of places like St Helens will be absolutely key to the future success of the region.

In this post-pandemic world, with cost-of-living increases and multiple pressures on households, the biggest impact we can make is connecting the economic strength of the regional centres with the surrounding communities. We need to listen to those communities and offer bespoke solutions to build a brighter future, together.

A CGI of St Helens town centre
The future of St Helens town centre

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