Sing as we go:
A new short ‘blue skies’ report, by pop moghul Anthony Wilson, re-imagines the future of East Lancashire (PDF, 640kb).

The report offers a list of somewhat disappointing suggestions, which may be ‘blue skies’ to councillors in East Lancashire but are fairly standard ‘culture-led regeneration’ fare elsewhere: an iconic landmark building themed around the textile industry; a football theme-park; specialised ‘extreme sports’ centres; re-naming/branding the area; new public spaces at the centre of towns, designed by big-name urbanists; cafes, restaurants and chic urban-living narrowboats along the canalside; attract monied creatives who want to work in Manchester but live in a loft apartment somewhere more pleasant/cheap; find and showcase local heroes; offer affordable high-speed net access; a festival of modern garden-design and a new college specialising in gardening; a new amalgamated university campus; more annual events & a food festival; and, er… “a lot more can be done for cyclists”. The problem with this template-driven approach is that when all cities have much the same ‘offer’, why should I as a creative choose one over another?

The most interesting suggestions are: build affordable eco-housing and buzzy modern allotment sheds; have an army of clerical staff who will “do all the paper work required by government” for local start-ups; free PA and lights hire for local pub bands; a big investment in highly structured youth sports leagues; and have landscape artist “Andy Galsworthy” (he means Andy Goldsworthy, I think) give the gateway A56 cutting a makeover. And he makes an interesting comment about how “irresolvable traffic jams” on exit roads are the new ‘city walls’, and how relatively minor train-line extensions or new services can bust through these walls to open up swathes of new territory to commuters. Nice, but for real ‘blue skies’ thinking, how about an airship docking-station and three Council-run airships gliding to and from Manchester?