Human Land Use


Please see link above
The Irwell catchment is situated in the north west of England.
Straddling ten location authorities the catchment includes many typologies of human settlement including:
Cities: Manchester and Salford,
Towns: Bury, Oldham and Rochdale,
Villages: Bacup, Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall.
Multiple watercourses also punctuate the landforms of the catchment including:
Roach Canal
Please see link above
Land use within the catchment is varied and sporadically spaced, as seen within the plan, despite these smaller units obvious assumptions can be made.
Assumptions such as the dominance of urban and sub-urban percentages being much higher than that of other categories are only solidified once taking into account the pie chart shown to the right. Also acting as a locational tool the pie chart shows the percentages of each category in direct comparison to others.
Looking past the obvious human interventions, the information shows a strong presence of a variation of grasslands within the area.
The axonometric diagram shows the layering of space, infrastructure and structure within the catchment.

As aforementioned the built environment of urban and sub-urban areas dominant.

On the other hand reviewing the plan is it obvious to see that these features can once again, like topographical data produced, can be separated to three distinct locations. Top (rural), Middle (sub-urban) and bottom urban.


The image above is a subject approach to the Irwell catchment.

The image deals with three categories of information received within the first stage.

Urbanisation – transitioning from Bottom to top, the gradation of urbanisation shown in prior plans are extrapolated into 3 categories

Rural – Areas such as Rawtenstall are shown my stereotypical housing stock surrounded by typical large green spaces

Suburban – Iconic high rise and municipal buildings of Rochdale, Oldham and Bury show an increase in urbanisation. Despite larger stature and increase in density, most instances seem to be deeply rooted in past eras with minimal numbers constructed after the 1960s

Urban – Iconic high-rise developments such as the Beetham tower exaggerate the vertical nature of the developing city, these buildings created a stark contrast to the buildings in the for ground highlighted the void in construction periods and technologies.

Time – The image tries to encapsulate multiple different times in the life of the catchment (moving from left to right throughout the image in connection with the vertical guide)

History – Bottom left shows an Industrial Bacup, a village hosting many mills and dense terraced housing symbolic of the period.

Present – Buildings that help generate the ideas of the gradation of urbanism are also symbolic of the current built forms that can be found in each stage.

Future – Future projects mainly lie in the ever developing city of Manchester. Shown far left of the image is a small segment of the expanding Noma scheme, located in the Northern Quarter/Greengate area of the city.

Despite the influx of investment into Manchester recent plans have been revealed by practices with desires to increase the catchment area. A prominent scheme to be developed is the City Forest Park. BDP’s plan to create a space larger than New York’s Central park, which would help condense the catchment in a commutable area , is one of only a number of initiatives which could vastly improve the lifestyle of inhabitants of the space.

Furthermore on the idea of a commutable Irwell catchment, with further development, we could almost see the catchment area becoming an extension of Manchester generating a city on par with the city of London. This would also take a step towards Will Alsop’s futurist idea of a Northern city extending from the East riding of Yorkshire to the banks of the Mersey.

The vision for the potential future is an element the image intends to generate, a city led by the Irwell.

The River – Despite constant allusion to the Irwell, the river only takes a secondary role in the image. The connotations of this are intended to show the current mentality of existing built forms and future construction and development. Most existing areas do not take full advantage of the river, canalising and placing underground rather than expanding and introducing people to the potential. Guidelines such as the river city park initiative could provide a vital role in future development.

Potentially this image can be seen as a futuristic insight into the idea of institutionalised development within communities located in northern areas of the catchment. However what it does not consider is that these communities may be more than content with standards of
living at the current moment.

Further Information

Manchester lies at the conjunction of the ancient county boundaries of Cheshire, Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire. At the base of the Pennines, where multiple rivers flow down from the hills, making the catchment area a good place to develop mill and population.

 “In the late-18th century, after Industrial Revolution, textile trade developed, triggering rapid growth in the cotton industry and expansion in ancillary trades. Infrastructure such as rows of terraced housing, factories and roads were constructed to house labor, transport goods, and produce cotton goods on an industrial scale for a global market. Population increase resulted in the “vigourous concentric growth” of a conurbation between Manchester and an arc of surrounding mill towns, formed from houses, factories and transport infrastructure. By 1848 urban sprawl had fused the city to its surrounding towns and hinterland to form a single continuous conurbation. Urban areas provided employment and services for rural dwellers, and open countryside was used by town dwellers for recreation. Demands for public services throughout Manchester and the surrounding municipalities increased. ”

h2M..Peter&Terry,W.(2012)The Economic History Review


The first recorded human settlements were those of the Celtic tribe, the Brigantes, who farmed the uplands and lower reaches of the river in the late iron age . In AD 79 the Roman Empire conquered these tribes, building forts at the confluences of the Irwell and the rivers Irk and Medlock and naming the town Mamucium. They also built a ford with rectangular stone blocks at Cornbrook, which is thought to be the first man-made structure to span the river. For four hundred years the Pax Romana brought peace, but their withdrawal in AD 410 left the tribes at the mercyof the Saxons ,who renamed the town Manigceastre. he Danes later seized, and all-but destroyed Manigceastre, and absorbed what was left of the tribes. The Danelaw ruled until AD 920 when the Norsemen were expelled by Edward theElder  In the Middle Ages the town, which was now known as Manceastre (later to become Manchester), grew and prospered, and trading vessels plied along the river.The hamlet of Kersal, which now forms part of the City of Salford, was gifted to the CluniacPriory of Lenton, near Nottingham, in 1142. The most important part of the gift was the fishing rights on the River Irwell, and even in the18th century, the salmon rights on the rivers of Lancashire were let every year for many hundreds of pounds.


Environment Agency Irwell Catchment Flood Management Plan

Settlement growth as occupations and population increase. Infrastructure was added to the city, including an extensive canal network. This created additional urban growth along the river and near factories. Pick three sections, upper,middle and under of catchment area from different years, showing the sprawl of urban and suburban clearly.

h5h6Comparing with England and Wales, the percentages of urban area in catchment area are higher, means settlement mostly happens near river.

Land uses in England  and Wales in 2002 :

21% urban and suburban

70% agriculture, comprising 26% crops 37% rough grazing and

improved grass 7%

other uses  9%


“This information is provided by the Environment Agency and based on data from the Forestry Commission and from the annual agricultural and horticultural censuses carried out by Defra and the National Assembly for Wales.”


Source -Digimap & Environment Agency

Transportation also make contributions to the development of urban. An interesting discover are Railways mostly been built along the river and Motorways been built to connect town to town and crossing the river.

h9Source -Digimap &  Environment Agency

h10 Transportation of catchment area

Source from Digimap


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