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The role of quarters in large city centres: a Mancunian case study

Bennison, David J. and Warnaby, Gary and Medway, Dominic (2007) The role of quarters in large city centres: a Mancunian case study. International journal of retail & distribution management, 35 (8). pp. 626-638. ISSN 0959-0552

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Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to evaluate the development, role and management of quarters in UK cities. Design/methodology/approach – A case study based on Manchester's Northern Quarter, using secondary documentary materials and semi-structured interviews with urban managers and residents of the Quarter. Findings – The emergence of the Northern Quarter is a relatively recent phenomenon, with small scale cultural industries and artists moving into take advantage of cheap property following the collapse of the area's economic base in the 1970s. Its branding was a development of the 1990s, set within the wider context of the marketing of the city as a whole. The area has regenerated, but its idiosyncratic character is continuously under pressure from developers and the demands of corporate retailing/leisure, from which it needs to be protected as far as possible. It is not an appropriate area for a business improvement district, but rather needs treating as an eco-system and allowed to develop under its own momentum. Research limitations/implications – This is a single case study, which would merit duplication in other cities. Practical implications – The paper suggests that “real” quarters are essentially organic in their origins, and cannot be planned or managed in a top-down way. The serial replication of artificial quarters will not assist the differentiation of localities in increasingly competitive place markets. Originality/value – The paper will be of interest to students and practitioners of urban place management.

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