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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 June 2006, 02:37 GMT 03:37 UK
From bomb site to style capital
By Julia Houston
BBC News, Manchester

Exchange Square 2006

Manchester changed the day a white Transit van, packed with 3,300lb of explosives, blew up on Corporation Street on 15 June 1996.

The IRA blast left a deep crater in the heart of the city as it tore apart Marks and Spencer, the Arndale Centre and the Corn Exchange.

But ten years on, Manchester bursts with civic pride.

What was once a bombsite is now a stylish hub of ultra modern glass buildings and designer shops.

The regeneration has attracted big names such as Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Heals and Louis Vuitton.

Exchange Square
30m was granted to build Urbis museum

Without the bomb, Manchester may not have had such a dramatic opportunity for rebirth, funded by private investors and government cash.

Manchester Millennium Limited, the public-private task force set up to lead the post-bomb regeneration, attracted 83m of public sector funding, a combination of government and European money.

This included 30m from the Millennium Commission for Urbis, the Exchange Square museum conceived as a showcase for inner-city life.

A total of 500m of private sector cash was brought in between 1996-99.

Investment in the city since then has skyrocketed, as developers fight for a chance to build in Manchester.

The new look city has sprouted loft-style apartments, encouraging a sharp rise in the number of people living in the city centre, which rose from 966 in 1991 to more than 15,000 in 2006.

Manchester's Exchange Square
The Triangle was created out of the former Corn Exchange building

The regeneration has also made Manchester a more attractive prospect to high-profile international companies such as the Bank of New York, who opened an office earlier this year.

One thing the regeneration work did allow for is bringing the old, medieval, part of the city together with the area around Manchester Cathedral.

Chief Executive of Manchester City Council Sir Howard Bernstein said: "Even before the bomb, we knew we had to make major improvements in Manchester city centre and we had already started the process of change.

"In the early 90s, we'd united the public and private sectors in Manchester through two Olympic bids and through winning our bid to host the Commonwealth Games.

Magnificent transformation

"During that time, we had worked in partnerships to complete the Bridgewater Hall, the MEN arena and the Velodrome."

He adds that the spirit of the city helped its magnificent transformation.

"The events of June 1996 were traumatic for everyone concerned but we were helped enormously by the resilience, the determination and the bravery of so many colleagues, businesses and individuals.

"We must never underestimate the difficulties or the problems that we faced in that period.

Cross Street after the explosion
The bomb rocked Corporation Street

"But the partnership spirit in Manchester is one of the city's greatest strengths. Our ability to work in harmony with others towards a common goal still stands us in good strength today."

The regeneration of the city centre had been discussed years ahead of the IRA bomb, in the 1984 city centre local plan and in the 1994 city pride prospectus.

The plans were certainly accelerated by the bomb, but it wasn't the sole factor for change.

Improvements had already been made to the G-MEX, the MEN Arena, the area around Castlefield, The Bridgewater Hall, and the Great Northern warehouse on Deansgate.

And the city's Olympic bids in 1984 and 1990 were important catalysts for change.

By the time Manchester hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2002, it was a city ready to show the rest of the world how far it had come.




SEE ALSO
Memorial service marks 1996 bomb
15 Jun 06 |  Manchester
Manchester bombers escape trial
15 Jun 06 |  Manchester
Bomb 10 years on: Where were you?
15 Jun 06 |  Manchester
Golden future for Games city
23 Jul 02 |  England



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