Leipzig and Manchester are superficially very different cities. Leipzig’s Communist government ran down its industrial base, which almost disappeared after German reunification. Manchester, one of the world’s oldest industrial cities, suffered no such fate. Yet these cities’ history and condition show remarkable parallels.
Both have experienced deindustrialisation and out-migration; and both are recording abandoned housing. With this in mind, both cities face a challenge: can they offer an attractive environment and lifestyle plus affordable services and housing to families with children who represent much of the future demand?
The Institute of Community Studies (now The Young Foundation) was funded by the Anglo-German Foundation to conduct a parallel study of Manchester. Bringing the two cities’ experience together in a mutual learning process, it makes vital reading for urban regeneration policy-makers in all other cities facing similar challenges. Through their work, the authors demonstrate that the present stemming of massive population losses is a fragile solution, not least because nearby suburban areas are often able to offer housing choices and levels of liveability that are not necessarily available within the city boundaries. In many instances it is possible that even where the cities offer exciting career opportunities, they may not benefit from an increase in residents.
The authors suggest that the two key goals for these cities in the future should be firstly to become magnets for the young, and secondly to keep the family builders. The question remains however, whether the national and regional governments give Manchester and Leipzig the necessary freedom, allowing them to take the risks to develop the necessary entrepreneurial approach.