We became involved in the regeneration of what was historically known as Manchester Docks in the 1980’s when it was still regarded by many as hopeless and local agents were adamant that no one would ever buy a house there. Peter Hunter, then a founder Director of Shepheard Epstein Hunter, with experience of regeneration in London’s Docklands, and great skills of persuasion and model-making, was convinced the site had enormous potential. He led our initiatives to transform the vast industrial landscape and reconnect it with the City and the region, at first working with local developer Urban Waterside, and subsequently with Salford City Council. In 1981 the City Council bought 225 acres of the decaying dockland from the Manchester Ship Canal Company and commissioned us to prepare a plan for the redevelopment of the area - some 150 acres of land, 75 acres of water and 3 miles of open waterfront. The vision was of a waterside city made up of residential, commercial, leisure and recreation buildings. Based on our university experience we had argued that a masterplan was essential to successful development, and that the quality of infrastructure must be high. We worked with Arup engineers to design some £25m of reclamation and infrastructure works to ‘pump-prime’ development. Bunds, dams and canals - essential components of the Development Plan - were devised to separate the water within the Quays from the polluted Manchester Ship Canal, leading to a dramatic increase in water quality and the introduction of fish stocks, and allowing the creation of strong vehicular and pedestrian routes, linking the 'fingers' of the existing docks. The City of Salford's account is here.
The Quays is now established as a successful urban centre, with the Lowry, the Imperial War Museum, and headquarters for the BBC in place - developments which were unthinkable for most people only twenty years before. Shepheard Epstein Hunter was awarded the Manchester Society of Architects President's Award in 1987 for ‘Initiative at Salford Quays’. And there was a dog in the basket that you can almost see. She was called Lucy.