Design flaws have delayed the North's new flagship cultural venue - first proposed in 2014

Reworked plans for Manchester's new flagship £112m arts centre have been approved by Manchester City Council’s planning committee.

Initial plans for The Factory - located on the site of Old Granada Studios at St John's - were approved in January 2017, however, problems with the design meant a revised planning application was submitted by Rem Koolhaas’s OMA architects in May.

Manchester council reportedly signed off £1.6m to pay for the changes, which included downscaling the venue's distinctive 'iceberg' exterior, extending the orchestra pit and downsizing theatre capacity.

They estimate that the arts venue will attract up to 850,000 people a year

The project - first proposed in 2014 by then chancellor George Osborne, who committed £78m in government funding - is due to complete in two years, with a launch planned for September 2020.

The Factory will feature two main spaces: a 'vast' warehouse with a capacity of around 5,000 and an auditorium for audiences up to 2,000. 

The Factory Manchester New
New designs for The Factory - minus the distinctive 'iceberg' exterior - have been approved

The council say the venue will become a 'nationally important cultural venue' which will enable 'the world’s best artists to create work of a scale and ambition not possible elsewhere'. They estimate that the arts venue will attract up to 850,000 people a year.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Culture and creativity have a critical role to play in Manchester’s future success – not just by inspiring ideas and imaginations but through creating opportunities and jobs. 

"The Factory will help take this to a whole new level and open up a new chapter in Manchester’s history of innovation.

“Not only will people no longer need to move to London for the best cultural and creative roles, it will give audiences from around the country and even the world another great reason to head here."

The Factory May 2018 4
The Factory will be located on the Old Granada Studios site

John McGrath, artistic director of the Manchester International Festival - which will operate and create the year-round artistic programme - said: 

"The Factory will provide space for the greatest artists from around the world to create work of extraordinary ambition and scale, work they always dreamed of making. 

"It builds on the city’s brilliant heritage as a centre for production, for radical ideas and for doing things a bit differently. It firmly underpins Manchester’s reputation as an internationally important city for culture, creativity and technology.”

"...we need a cast-iron guarantee that these concerns have been addressed

But the 'game changing' arts centre isn't without its detractors. Lib Dem communities and planning spokesperson Greg Stanton has waded in on the council after the Theatres Trust raised concerns about the standard of wheelchair access. 

Stanton said: "These are not minor details - these are serious design flaws that developers must be held to account on."

"Not allowing us to question and commit developers on these critical issues is really worrying - we need a cast-iron guarantee that these concerns have been addressed."

Responding to the criticism, a Manchester City Council spokesman said: "There are no areas of this large, ambitious venue that are not fully accessible and the scheme does meet recognised standards and best practice. However, as with any building further fine-tuning will take place through the detailed design stage.