HBD sets out Island site intentions

The developer has submitted plans for the long-awaited central Manchester scheme, revealing a 100,000 sq ft ten-storey scheme including a basement events space and a roof terrace.

Designed by architecture practice Cartwright Pickard, appointed in February last year, HBD said that the proposal “is sympathetic to the surrounding buildings and the area’s history, keeping an authentic Manchester heritage feel with detailed brickwork and an industrial feel”.

HBD is delivering Island in partnership with the Greater Manchester Property Venture Fund. Avison Young advises GMPVF and also acts as planning consultant on the project, as well as being joint agent on the scheme with OBI.

Gardiner & Theobald is engaged as project manager.

Following consultation with the city council, HBD is proposing the pedestrianisation of a section of Ridgefield, tying in with the city’s drive to improve pedestrian links between Lincoln Square and St Ann’s Square.

Island Site Image 2

The Island scheme has been designed by Cartwright Pickard

Adam Brady, executive director at HBD, said: “Island is the first building in Manchester to be designed post-pandemic and the design reflects that.

“It won’t just look great, it’ll be a place where people feel happy to spend their time, whether they’re working or relaxing.

“We’re creating a great community at Kampus and we’ll look to do the same at Island. We want to offer something new and exciting. It’ll be the best space in the city.”

HBD, then known as Henry Boot Developments, was selected by GMPVF in 2017 as its partner for the Island site, a plot that has long been regarded as a big opportunity in the city’s commercial heart, offering the ability to greatly increase the volume of office space available.

The site as it stands houses three buildings, Grange House, Old Colony House, and Ridgefield, which offer a combined 55,000 sq ft.

GMPVF acquired the site from a consortium led by Bluemantle in 2011.

Other projects designed by Cartwright Pickard include the XYZ Building in Spinningfields. As referenced by Brady, HBD and partner Capital & Centric are currently in the midst of delivering Kampus, a £250m mixed-use scheme off Manchester’s Aytoun Street.

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Given the prestigious location, this building is of poor architectural merit (yes I know what is there currently isn’t great).

There is a real chance to reinstate what was lost in the 60s here but on a larger scale. Instead we have a building that looks like it belongs in an inner-city regeneration framework.

By Observer

Love it, get it built!

By Anonymous

Love this, and the fact that Ridgefield is being pedestrianised and widened. Good news

By Steve

What fantastic looking building. The detailed brick and double height industrial plinth are stunning. And look at that curve. Replicating what has been lost is poor and lazy urban design. You need to look ahead and design for now.

By Andrew

Blimey observer that looks like a well crafted brick building to me ……..love to know where you have seen something similar in an inner city regeneration framework

By Freddie

Disagree with Observer. I like it. I think the height is right. I like the curves. The materials look good. And the recessed windows and detailing around them add a bit of extra visual interest. The challenge will be maintaining these details through the inevitable value engineering process.


Reminds me of Heron House – not good, not good at all!


Great looking building, wonderful detail and works well in context of its surroundings.

By Tom

Pedestrian access only to Ridgefield – Tick. A wider Ridgefield – Tick, A great looking design that looks like it can perform well from an energy efficiency perspective – Tick.

One observation. Can someone make sure that the raked back brickwork at the top of the windows does not result in green growth over time with prolonged wet weather! The window / façade detail on a number of Manchester’s latest buildings has not been thought out properly!

The variation in fenestration size and position really works though! great job.

By Jolly Good Show

Looks like something suited to the Northern Quarter, not in the heart of the town centre. All it needs is a bit of graffiti and you’re good to go.

By John

Very weak design. ‘Industrial feel’ would be totally out of place in a commercial quarter, although how random windows are industrial I don’t know. The height and scale are completely at odd with the fine-grain city blocks containing many separate buildings and low rise of the surrounding, including several listed buildings. How is this any better than Grange House? It’s certainly not better than Old Colony House. Look how it dwarfs the listed 105-113 deansgate, and the 4-5 storey post-modern St James House. this isn’t a landmark site, it’s back streets! Totally out of place.

By Pink Panther

Very bland development. I do like the variation of detail with the brickwork, but there is absolutely nothing about the design that makes this stand out. It’s not a hideous development but having shown this to someone already, their response was ‘Hmm, it’s okay’. Don’t we want something better than okay? I do like the curves and pedestrianisation aspect of it, though.

By Robert

I can see where some people are coming from.

I actually like the building and think it’s a massive improvement, so I wouldn’t mind it being built.

But there is some fantastic buildings surrounding this. Surely Manchester is reaching the stage now where the architecture should be top notch in areas like this? There have been other applications which are striving to do this in similar areas throughout the city.

By Anonymous

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