Broadcast blog by Danny Meaney - Regeneration and the creative industries
Published in Broadcast 25th Jan 2010.
The ongoing conundrum is how do you bring the two sides together? Well, maybe it is through the regeneration of old industrial cities into new creative places that enable the concentration of talent. Maybe the virtual world has not quite taken over – yet….
A number of cities have already realised the benefits of utilising the creative and digital industries to aide regeneration of an area or even the entire city itself. The creative industries can help to foster a vibrant atmosphere, drive repopulation and widen the mixture of uses that enables commercial development to become less risky.
Look at examples such as Glasgow’s Pacific Quay, which forms part of the largest regeneration project ever to take place in Scotland, or MediaCityUK in Salford or the Harbourside in Bristol. These areas have embraced the media and creative sector (with the BBC playing a key role in all three) and this strategy has ultimately eased their transition from traditional heavy industries into “new century cities” helping to drive the transformation of these cities into modern and exciting places to live and work.
To date, well over £200m has been invested in Pacific Quay by the public and private sectors. BBC Scotland and STV are located on Pacific Quay along with a range of other broadcast and media businesses, Film City Glasgow, the Science Centre and the Digital Design Studio (the digital faculty of the world famous Glasgow School of Art). The northern bank of the river hosts a convention centre and music venue (the SECC) and Zaha Hadid’s first UK building, the spectacular Riverside Museum and the new National Arena will open there by 2014, the year that this area will host many activities of the Commonwealth Games.
MediaCityUK, at Salford Quays, Manchester, is a multi-billion pound project across 200 acres with a vision to be an international hub of digital creativity and business. The official opening of MediaCityUK in 2011 is viewed as a significant milestone in the industrial shift from heavy industry in the Northwest. The economic future for the region will be based upon the development of several modern industries - with digital media and culture at the forefront. MediaCityUK will be a significant boost to both the regional and national economy; it is estimated that £1.5 billion will be added to the economy with a further 15,500 jobs and 1,500 traineeships created each year.
Bristol’s Harbourside is a vibrant hub of creativity with not only the internationally famous Watershed Media Centre based there but also several other key initiatives such as the Pervasive Media Studio – a brilliant collaboration between the Watershed, HP Innovation Labs and the HE sector. Futurelab is also virtually next door and focuses on next generation learning and of course the one remaining gapsite on the harbour is strongly rumoured to be the favoured site for a new BBC operation, should they commit to moving from Whiteladies Road.
Flexibility and adaptability is key to the success of the media industry. New partnerships will be required and a more innovative approach to shared infrastructure will be important going forward – these large scale developments lend themselves to innovative activities and new business models.
However, lasting regeneration of an area cannot be achieved by simply parachuting in the creative industries. As with all regeneration, once an area is recognised as ‘up and coming’ the cost of accommodation inevitably rises and the once ‘edgy’ areas become more developed and desirable. This increase in cost tends to drive away the creative people who helped to found the redevelopment in the first place.
So the challenge is to provide some level of value to the creative industries that entices them to stay in the area.
Real regeneration of formerly edgy, vibrant places such as ports underpinned by the establishment that is the BBC – well who would have imagined it!
Danny Meaney is managing director of market intelligence and strategy firm nmp
MediaCityUK: The city within the city. Available: http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/mediacityuk-the-city-within-the-city/2002588.article