Manchester Council Finds Development Partner For New City Center Initiative

A section of the former retail park is undergoing a transformation into a new low-carbon office hub, upscale green area, and commercial office space.

This initiative aims to facilitate ongoing economic growth and provide workspace for 7,000 civil service jobs, both new and existing.

In March 2023, the Council sanctioned a new Strategic Regeneration Framework (SRF) for the land, outlining high-level development concepts for the site and signalling advanced discussions to commence the reconstruction phase.

The Government Property Agency (GPA) is exploring options in Manchester and the Northwest to accommodate civil servants. This aligns with the broader government strategy to decentralize services, promoting a more balanced distribution of government activities across the country and supporting the Levelling Up agenda. This approach not only addresses the need for more office space but also contributes to economic growth and regional development outside of London.

It’s a part of the broader effort to ensure that various regions benefit from government investments and services, promoting a more inclusive and balanced approach to development.

Cllr Bev Craig, -Council Leader said: “We have big ambitions for this site, and it has the potential to accommodate thousands of jobs, create a new green public space and gateway through to Cotton Field Park for the first time, while developing highly sustainable office space – and in time create an ecosystem that will support new businesses to grow in the future. 

“This is great news for Manchester, and we are working closely with the GPA to bring these proposals forward. In them, we have found a development partner that shares our vision for the site, which supports the continued growth of Manchester through sustainable, high-quality development.

“It is very welcome that we can finally bring this long-term brownfield piece of land back into active use and marks the beginning of the end for the 20year regeneration story that has transformed this corner of our city centre.”

It is anticipated that the first planning application will be submitted later this summer, indicating the need for additional office space in this area of Manchester’s city center.  GPA’s early development plans included for the construction of a new office building and digital campus.

The focus on creating a low carbon office destination aligns with sustainability goals, and it suggests a response to the demand for modern office amenities in that particular area.

The regeneration program includes plans for significant new green space. The addition of green spaces can have numerous benefits, including improving the overall quality of life for residents, providing recreational areas, and contributing to a more environmentally sustainable urban development.

The development of routes for walking and cycling not only promotes sustainable and healthy modes of transportation but also contributes to creating a more pedestrian-friendly and interconnected urban environment.

Linking of routes through Ancoats and the Northern Quarter will enhance connectivity within the city center, making it easier for residents and visitors to navigate the area using active travel options. It prioritizes accessibility, reduce reliance on cars, and promote a more vibrant and live able city thereby supporting community well-being.

In an interview with Councillor Chris Northwood (Ancoats & Beswick) on City Retail Park, He said, The site was originally used as a covid testing center during the pandemic but now a proposed park after a push back from the community as they asked for a green space on the site. There was a new interest from the civil service who developed the framework which included an office campus due to the needs of civil service now called the phase one development. It is primarily a park now and that is what it will be henceforth. The community will benefit as it will increase the commercial activity coming into the area”.

Councilor Chris mentioned “The Crown Commercial Service” as the partner in the project.