Ask hires Burgess for placemaking expertise

Ask Real Estate has appointed Fran Burgess, formerly of Capital Properties and advisor to Allied London on the placemaking strategy for St John’s, as consultant on its emerging plans for the former Bauer Millet car showroom site in Manchester city centre.

Last week Ask and Carillion announced that it had bought the 1.74-acre site at the base of Beetham Tower, and was working up £300m plans for the plot, dusting off designs by SimpsonHaugh & Partners for a 750,000 sq ft scheme first announced in 2010.

The project will be delivered in a partnership between Ask, Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and Manchester Central.

Bauer Millet BeethamAccording to Ask, Burgess’ role will focus on placemaking and creating “an early sense of place and to put the site on the map as a new and dynamic mixed use estate”.

Burgess was formerly communications director at Capital Properties and oversaw the creation of the Spinningfields estate since she joined the company in 2008. Burgess left the company alongside her husband Mark Burgess in June 2015.

As a consultant to Ask, she will be responsible for creating and implementing a strategy that will look at ways to showcase the site as soon as possible to give both the public and prospective tenants a flavour of the site’s possibilities.

John Hughes, Ask’s managing director, John Hughes, said: “Fran has played a part in establishing some of Manchester’s most thriving public realms and has arguably helped Manchester set the pace ahead of other UK cities for turning districts in to destinations. Our Bauer Millett site has a prime spot in the city and we want it to become a place where people want to be, either to live, work or play. We are excited to see what Fran will come up with, but have no doubt it will turn this patch of the city in to something exciting for everyone to enjoy both during the development process and afterwards.”

Burgess said: “Ask has an incredible site on its hands. The showrooms have been closed for two years, so this will be the first opportunity that people will have had to get inside the site for a while, which makes it all the more exciting. It is too early to give specific ideas away, but we will be looking to work with local partners and bring new concepts to Manchester.”

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Ten quid says it includes some PRS

By Jimmy

An intriguing appointment. Is this Ask conceding they need a different approach after the mess they made at First Street? I’m not convinced this’ll make too much difference if the apparent instinct for short termism, design-and-build and aggressive value engineering prevails as it did at First Street.


That First Street development really has wound people up. It seems to be universally disliked.

What’s the problem with it? Seems OK-ish to me.

By Alan Baxter

Mr Baxter. I think you have just answered your own question.

By Cassandra

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