Bricks & Mortar - a new type of property and planning round-up for Manchester

The wheel comes full circle. The big news, these last couple of weeks, came with plans for a huge new cultural venue at Mayfield, adjacent to Piccadilly Station. There will be a proposed capacity of 10,000 with a combined performance, community and studio space. Estimates for up to 1m visitors a year have been posted.

Residents and visitors want to see safe and attractive city centre streets, readily accessible for people using different modes of transport

The new venue called Depot, launches this summer with Pride (24-25 August) and a five year lifespan as the rest of the 30 acre Mayfield site undergoes development. Richard Upton of U+I, the company leading the site redevelopment, says: “We want to add something to the Mancunian cultural landscape which is unique not just in the city but in the UK. Depot will blend the global with the local, where international stars and local school children will access the same quality of performance and studio space. It will be democratic and distinctive.” Did he steal that last line from Rory Stewart, the Tory-would-be leader that never-would-be?

2019 06 19 Mayfield
The mighty interior of Mayfield Depot

Confidential thinks the 'unique' project sounds awfully like The Factory, Manchester. This is expensively rising from the ground a mile and a half away, costing £120m, with performance spaces of 1,500 and 5,000 capacity. That will open in 2020. Depot is temporary but still, can the city really fill such grand spaces?

Those with a good memory might feel it’s a little ironic that as recently as 2013, plans for a 7,500 capacity entertainment centre, at Mayfield, were announced. The scheme was led by well-known city event entrepreneurs, Jon Drape and David Norris. It foundered on a principal complaint that such a venue, at that scale, wasn’t needed in the city centre. Something clearly must have changed, although Confidential has no idea, what.

2019 06 19 Bollards
Thomas Street bollards awaiting deployment

Development often depends on the right infrastructure. Manchester has announced two major reworkings of Thomas Street and Great Ancoats Street. The smaller reworking at Thomas Street has turned the street into a pedestrian and cycle zone on weekend evenings, Friday to Sunday, from 8pm to 5.30am, and similarly on Bank Holiday Mondays. The same restrictions will be in place on Thursdays when they fall before a public or Bank Holiday Friday. 

This explains the curious group of four bollards that have appeared all together on the pavement as though meeting up for a night out. The trial project will be reviewed within 18 months, to measure the effects of the changes and to consider feedback from residents and businesses. Manchester City Council's Executive Member for the Environment, Planning and Transport, Councillor Angeliki Stogia, says: "We know from listening to residents and visitors that they want to see safe and attractive city centre streets, which are readily accessible for people using different modes of transport.” 

2019 06 19 Great Ancoats View1 Issue 02
The western end of Great Ancoats Street resembles a very accurate apocalyptic movie-set

Making Manchester’s streets and squares attractive has been a long process in the city, piecemeal in the extreme, with mixed results, incorporating 48 different types of pavement surface and 47 different types of bins, although the introduction of trees has worked well.

A particular eyesore has been the western end of Great Ancoats Street, which resembles a very accurate urban scene for a film set after the apocalypse. Great Ancoats Street is apparently ‘to go green’ or at least ‘more green’. A drooping daffodil would make it more green at present. £9.1m has been secured from the Greater Manchester Growth Deal to bring in trees and improve the look, feel and safety of a street which is effectively an urban motorway. This will include ‘seventy semi-mature trees, better crossings for pedestrians and people travelling on bikes, new pavements, a smoother surface for drivers and improved signage to help people find their way around’. It should all be done by the end of 2020.

Good news this, as crossing from the Northern Quarter side of Great Ancoats Street to the food and drink haven of Ancoats is the second the most perilous street undertaking in the city. The first is dodging Deliveroo and Uber Eats cyclists.

The city council have promised to minimise inconvenience to motorists. Motorists have responded by laughing hysterically, then weeping.

2019 06 19 Urban Splash
New Islington by Urban Splash

Seventeen more new modular houses have been approved for nearby New Islington to be delivered by Urban Splash. These will be launched for sale on Piercy Street at the north eastern end of the New Islington neighbourhood, close to the Urban Splash Stubbs Mill and Chips buildings. The homes will be pre-made by Splash’s own factory in the East Midlands from blueprints determined by the customers. The result will be a three-storey, 1500-sq ft property with ‘hundreds of personalisation options’. Four of the homes will be ‘affordable’, all of the properties will come with parking and a private residents' garden. In the old days ‘modular’ was called ‘pre-fabricated’ but that’s a bit of a dirty term in 2019.

The new buildings bring New Islington a step closer to completion. It’s taken a long time since the ill-fated ‘Millennium Village’ concept of New Labour in the early noughties. That fantastical scheme was largely abandoned after the 2008 crash. Today New islington boasts Pollen bakery, Cask bar, barge-dwellers, a health centre, one of those controversial ‘free schools’ and the ongoing row over the ruin of the Ancoats Dispensary. One huge boost is the demolition of the ugliest retail park on earth adjacent to New Islington on Great Ancoats Street. Expect more apartments. Of course.

2019 06 19 Hotel Du Vin Cgi Ed
Hotel du Vin CGI

Hotels are blossoming across the city as quickly as shops are closing. The first hotel on Albert Square (well just about) should open next year with a Hotel du Vin, from the Malmaison chain (CGI above), reworking the 1955 Pearl Assurance House. Greenlane Properties are the developer and there will be 70 bedrooms, a bar and bistro, covering 41,400 sq ft. There’ll be no car parking. The existing Costa Coffee occupying the ground floor will be replaced, to the intense indifference of all caffeine aficionados. The architects will be Leach Rhodes Walker and Stephenson Studio.

2019 06 19 Cotton Yard
'Cotton Yard' aparthotel site for Staying Cool

Anybody remember Mash & Air, Oliver Peyton’s glamour spot on Chorlton Street from the 90s? It fell victim to bad boys in gangs demanding free champagne, according to tiny Mr P. Aparthotel company Staying Cool is in the process of transforming the presently sorry looking building into a 41-unit apartment hotel. Sitting close to the junction with Canal Street in the Village there will be ‘a mix of studios and suites over four floors of the existing building, together with eight duplex penthouses in a new rooftop extension’. The development will be called Cotton Yard, reflecting its former use, and will open in September 2020, as a joint partnership with Bespoke Hotels.

2019 06 19 Spinning
No1 Spinningfields

Over at No 1 Spinningfields, property giant, Schroders has launched the 17th floor, providing 11,342 sq ft of prime office space with ‘unparalleled 360-degree views of the Manchester skyline’. The company has called the office the ‘suite at the summit’ and promises ‘bright, spacious office accommodation, designed to offer flexibility and support up-to-the-minute technology’. Not that the office is at the ‘summit of the building’, that would be the restaurant and bar 20 Stories, which is on the 19th storey. It gets confusing in property marketing. 

2019 06 19 Hoardings
Hoardings for the 'Extraordinary Taking Shape' artworks

Speaking of which, over on Oxford Road, Bruntwood’s Circle Square has launched an ‘original collection of public art’. The 'Extraordinary Taking Shape' artworks include five new illustrations, graphics, and visuals designed to reflect the work on Circle Square and lively nature of the Oxford Road corridor. The new artwork can be viewed on the hoardings around the fast-developing site on Oxford Road. And of course, snap happy selfie sorts are encouraged to make themselves part of their favourite artwork: tag in Circle Square, to be entered into a draw to win dinner for two at Circle Square’s food, drink and retail destination, Hatch, which is set to grow much bigger. 

The Blade Runner-esque operation, under the glorious sixties concrete of the Mancunian Way, is housed in shipping containers and kiosks. Ten new F&B units will be joining Hatch as it trebles in size to 15 indies. 

Incidentally folks, Confidential is often asked, where does Oxford Street become Oxford Road? The answer is at the River Medlock, just after the viaduct to Oxford Road Station, where Manchester township used to end and Chorlton-on-Medlock township start. Glad we've cleared that one up.