CRP Manchester p.council docs

The revised masterplan features more green space than the original proposal. Credit: via council documents

Government eyes Manchester’s Central Retail Park 

An updated strategic regeneration framework for the 10.5-acre site has been drawn up in response to “potential interest from the Government Property Agency”, according to a council report. 

Manchester City Council acquired the Central Retail Park site off Great Ancoats Street for £37m in 2017. Since then, there has been much speculation about potential end uses for the plot. 

The city council adopted an SRF for the site in 2020 that proposed the creation of a commercial-led development featuring 1m sq ft of offices, including a 30-storey tower. 

This SRF has now been updated in response to changing market trends and the interest from the GPA. Avison Young is advising the council on the updated SRF, which was originally designed by Bennetts Associates.

The updated plan will feature several buildings and an area of green space dubbed the Garden, aimed at “creating a vibrant destination for employees and visitors alike”, the council said.

It will focus on the delivery of high-quality architecture and urban design, and new and improved links and permeability for pedestrian and cycle routes, according to the report.

“Were GPA to commit to offices at the former Central Retail Park, this would provide the catalyst to deliver the masterplan and provide socio-economic benefits, including new high-quality jobs,” the report states. 

The GPA is “exploring options for delivering office solutions in Manchester to meet the needs of various civil service departments, with the Former Central Retail Park as a potential option,” the report continues. 

Subject to the approval of the updated Central Retail Park SRF and the completion of the scheme, the site could generate up to 8,000 jobs. 

Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig teased an update on Central Retail Park when speaking to Subplot last week.

Going public on the latest thinking for the site she said: “The former Central Retail Park is a key site and one of the final pieces of the puzzle in the long-term regeneration story of New Islington, which has the potential to create thousands of new jobs in the city.

“For decades the site has created a physical barrier between Great Ancoats Street and the growing community around New Islington Marina. Developing this site will create a new public link through to the existing Cotton Field Park behind and create a green space at the heart of the low-carbon commercial district.”

An eight-week consultation on plans for the site will begin in the new year.

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Is it really more green space? Colouring in something green on a plan doesn’t make it green space. The vast majority of that ‘green’ will be paving or they’ll be some very muddy feet!

By New mancunian

In other words decisions have already been made, and the UK’s electorate is supposed to just swallow it. Cue more empire building decision making from the likes of the Arts Council.
It doesn’t make the Uk better to steal jobs from one place and put them in another. It just makes property developers rich.

By Jeff

Home office wants to use it

By Anonymous

Apparently it will be used by the Home office to house people.

By Anonymous

This has been on the cards for an awful long time.It may not make this country better immediately,although its dependant on what metrics used.It will however make things fairer.2 or 3 thousand government and Whitehall jobs relocating to central mcr is common sense.The next bit of joined up thinking surley returns to subterranean issues with that station scenario.

By Robert Fuller

This needs to be a park. It is the perfect spot near water and already has mature trees. Why does Manchester get these pathetic postage stamp open spaces all the time?

By Elephant

There is effectively a huge government campus already in existence at Pier Head / Albert Dock, virtually all of it built and sustained with public money. Could the GPA not consolidate there and maybe use some of the empty office space at Mann Island?

By Linda

Area of green space dubbed the Garden, aimed at “creating a vibrant destination for employees and visitors alike”, the council said. Lies lies lies, shortminded approach! We need more green spaces and the Council is not listening…

By Anonymous

The access road and turning head links the green spaces together so well

By Are you for real?

It should be turned into a park/common area with lots of open green space. There are enough office spaces.

By Anonymous

Perfect location for a skyscraper cluster!


Hmm…the city council bought the land, and then lobbied very expensively for the plot to be used as a surface carpark (although as lefties they believe in a “climate emergency.”) They are now telling us that we’ll get a Reading or Slough model business park that will house civil servants. Go back to sleep, Manchester City Council!

By LameDuckCraig

Perfect location for buildings with balconies

By Balcony warrior

This whole site needs to be a big park, simple. Would add so many benefits to health and wellbeing and probably indirect economic benefits.

By Chris W

@lameduckcraig The former car park / retail was prosed to be used again as a car park until the plans were in place to re-develop the site. It shouldn’t have really been controversial.

By Harpsicord

@Harpsicord…and when common sense prevailed and the city council’s expensive bid to use the site as a car park failed, did the council propose a park as a temporary measure?!
Lol, cut off yer nose to spite yer face!

By LameDuckCraig

Please, for the love of god, just let this be a park. Not some paved “public space” with potted trees and clumps of ferns.

This city is desperately in need of more Mayfield Parks and fewer Circle Squares. It’s truly embarrassing walking around this place with anybody from another part of the world.

By Manchester Resident

Manchester City Council have so little vision don’t they. Please can they just take a trip outside Manchester to literally any other city to see how they do architecture, public realm, road planning Etc and take inspiration.

By Anonymous

When HS2 arrives in Manchester I can see a lot of Civil Service jobs being transferred from London.
They will be able to still live in London and commute .

By Peter Wellman

Expand the marina, create canalside restaurants and open green spaces

By Stephen Wood

Linda – Mann Island/Albert Dock – what government campus? What office space?

LCRCA has 3.5 floors in One Mann Island, Homes England has 1, and the other half of the building is full, as are the Longitude and Latitude buildings.

By Mann Island

Congratulations MCC! You’ve proposed another absolutely ingenious plan set to remove ANY hope of a large green space that inner city residents so desperately need. Thats what you want right? Soulless workers, robotic humans, concrete-brained individuals, devoid of nearby natural spaces to escape the confines of their tiny apartments?

With all the comparisons of Brooklyn to Manchester you’d think you might at least try make a mini Central Park to complete the image! Please, please think about the longer term vision.

The residents of the city need green space, mini football pitches, a skatepark, flower gardens, an open-air bandstand, a vegetable patch for children to learn the importance of biology… the list goes on.

We are facing life-threatening climate change in the coming decade(s). Urban Heat Islands will become worse and worse. It’s proven significant green space drastically reduces their impact. Turning a blind eye to this fact is negligent at best and criminal at worst. Future local generations will suffer.

Do the right thing. Reconsider.

By Ancoats Resident & Trained Designer

Excellent news. Sounds like a decision has already been made in Whitehall and Bev Craig knows it. I presume this is on top of the 2500 civil servants announced earlier this year going mostly to 1st Street? I always thought there would be a lot more coming although I presumed it would be the catalyst for the Mayfield offices to start building. Whatever, the natural home for Government outside London especially with HS2 already underway.

By Anonymous

The Council cares zero about this Climate Change emergency, and even less about their Ancoats residents. This “park” proposal is laughable. Don’t forget that this key spot is nearby a marina and a primary school. Cannot the Council come up with a better plan where community and nature come together? Taxes taxes, that’s the only thing this Council cares about.

By New Islington resident

A property and development board that reads like a Green Party manifesto. It’s almost as if it’s coordinated. “I want to live in place with acres of green space with no buildings and fresh air. “ what you’ll be wanting then is the countryside. Head in any direction for about 15 miles, there’s loads of it, it’s all over the place, you can even work in it. When you’re bored drive (walk?) back in, we’ll be waiting.

By Anonymous

Its ironic that many of us complain about developments not providing enough green space. I am probably one of the chief whingers and have some reservations over the masterplan for the central retail park. Thebirony for me is that when the Council encourage best practise from the people who have delivered Mayfield Park – which I love – they then dont support it by directing much needed development to it. I fear that we will get the Home Office at Central Retail Park soon in an average scheme to benefit the Council coffers and we will also then see little development at Mayfield with a resulting slow decline in that space as the developer runs out of money. The lesson then will be – don’t deliver thebgreen space first.

By Mancunian

If the green space is done properly it looks like there’s a good link off Old Mill Street into Ancoats keeping off Great Ancoats Street – could be a welcome, albeit minor, change from the main access roads going around. It could ‘finish’ the marina particularly well provided soaring inflation doesn’t mean it gets the scope ripped out of it through value engineering.

By Anonymous

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