Central Retail Park MCC p.MCC

The site would feature extensive green space under the city council's proposals. Credit: via MCC

Manchester nudges Central Retail Park regeneration forward 

A plan that could see the 10-acre Great Ancoats Street eyesore redeveloped into a 1.25m sq ft office scheme, including the potential for a civil service hub, has been signed off by the city council. 

Manchester City Council acquired the former Central Retail Park from TH Real Estate for £37m six years ago. Since then, there has been much speculation about the city council’s plans for the site and frustration about a perceived lack of progress. 

Late last year, the city council announced it was planning to refresh the strategic regeneration framework for the site in response to interest from the Government Property Agency around relocating staff there.  

A six-week consultation on the proposals followed, and yesterday afternoon, the city council’s executive approved the updated SRF, drawn up by Avison Young. 

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Well, good to know they are doing something . It is an eyesore. Bit more green would be nice linking it to the locks. I thought the civil servants had already signed for First St. I guess this may be aimed at more of them heading north. It’s good to plan ahead.

By James

Such a wasted opportunity, this was a perfect location for a handful of skyscrapers. At least 6 150m+ could have fit on this site, providing at least 2,500 homes.


Still not good enough in terms of green space provision. Sorry but the NIMBYs are right on this one. I hope they push harder and get what they can.

By Anonymous

Only MCC could destroy a place with mature trees, perfect for a park and turn it into something that looks like it should be on a ring road outside Croydon.

By Elephant

People don’t move to Manchester cityu centre for parks, they move for nightlife, there’s plenty of parks in suburbia, where they belong

By Dan

Having spent £37m on the land, I’m not sure it would be good value for money for the rest of Manchester’s population to have it as a park, as nice as it could be. A good quality, productive site with a decent amount of green space fits the bill. Queens Park is a few minutes away, Mayfield a few minutes away.

By harpisord

Not much green zone in the plan!

By Manc

We’ve got enough zones for skyscrapers I think. A civil service Hub? , hmm what do the council know?

By Tom

Croydon doesn’t need a ring road as it has both a tunnel and a Mancunian Way style underpass. And a decent team system.

By Cg

They say that there are more green areas than in the 2020 plan. And it’s true, in the original plan the only green areas were the ones painted on the rooftops and the school next door. They are laughing at us.

By Vecino

City centre’s don’t need parks. Perhaps they should build on Hyde and Central then?

By Elephant

Surprised someone in the comments hasn’t suggested plonking ten 70 floor skyscrapers here

By Levelling Up Manager

Grim central

By Anonymous

Dan you only have to go to New York, Berlin, Amsterdam to see large parks in the centre. It would be nice but we were an industrial city. The best we’ll get is small pockets of green. I read a good piece when Manchester was offered Trafford Park (when it was a park) but missed the opportunity and got Heaton Park years later. Mayfield Park will make a good addition

By Tomo

Why would you want to live in a city that has no parks and so no place for children to play or go for a run off the road or walk a dog or sit and enjoy sunshine.What type of person do the council’ and development community expect to live in city centre when you no.green space ?.How about you stop.giving planning permission for multi storey car parks and instead put all car parking underground like in France with a park and green space on top.

By Bob James

As someone who thinks of Manchester as easily being one of my favourite cities, the green space issue is absolutely shocking. I cannot fathom how so many people voluntarily choose to live in the city centre (at least long-term) the way that it is.
Mayfield is great but it’s nowhere near enough. Same for the Northern Gateway.
All existing car parks should be turned into green spaces (with parking underground) and all existing green spaces should be extended/linked via pedestrianisation as a MINIMUM. And what’s going on with the Irwell River Park?
The whole frontage between Salford Quays and the city centre should be greened up with better links.
Most British cities are victim to this but Manchester is bad. Yet a few miles out of the city centre and you’ve got some glorious parks and the Peak District. Bizarre.

By Anonymous

MCC seem to be aiming for London or European density of development but without London or European levels of open / green space provision for equivalent densities.

That’s what makes the city’s current development model unsustainable and represents a significant risk to the city long term.

By Longtime observer

Manchester is in my top ten in England for sure


I think Anonymous 2.02 you may like the plans for the huge Victoria North district being developed as we speak. I know it’s a long term development with numerous different areas but it contains a lot of Parkland coming into the city centre. As the city centre spreads out this will be very significant. In the meantime I think a few acres here and there like Mayfield are all we can expect .

By Tron

If you want an NYC style central park then you will have to find an island that not’s been built on and plan it out on your own street map.

If you want London style Royal Parks then you’ll have to find an hereditary aristocracy with an eye on keeping the locals happy and healthy (but not actually giving up the land).

If you want an Amsterdam style Vondel park (2 miles on tram from Centraal station) go to Heaton Park (4 times as big – 3 miles by tram from Victoria).

Manchester doesn’t do too bad, Pennines and Cheshire aside there’s a good belt around south Manchester from Alexandra to Whitworth to Platt Fields to Cholton/Longford/Cringle Parks. Not to mention the Mersey Valley with an actual river and two water parks in it.

I think everyone focuses a bit too much on town, where ‘greening’ at places like Mayfield and Castlefield is always welcome… but surely not top priority!

By Anonymous

Demolish the Arndal Centre and build a park on that site.

By Anonymous

I actually do appreciate the comments back.

But I agree with Longtime observer. I think it’s in Manchester’s interest to make green space much more of a priority in order to make the rate of development and quality of life significantly better and more sustainable in the long run.
As someone who visits often but not often enough to get used to it, the lack of green space will eventually get the better of the city centre unless they take it much more seriously.

By Anonymous

Central Manchester needs much, much more green space. Saying you can hop on a tram really misses the point. The council has control of one of very few opportunities to provide something here. Cotton Fields Park is overrun in summer – partly because there’s nowhere else to go

By Parks

They need a park here rather than housing- it’s the most logical use for the site. The city centre population is more than 50,000 at this point and there are no other large spots which are Council-owned and are already next to an existing park that can be expanded and have the right features to be a mid-sized city centre park (highly accessible to a large population, canal-side location, short walk from the city centre). It’s also worth pointing out that the area is about to lose green space that was vital as breathing space during the pandemic, with “Electric Park” building over the green space by New Islington station. Equally the site is already surrounded by large-scale housing development (Islington Mill, Oxygen, the soon-to-be 100 Port Street) and demand for green space will further skyrocket with the delivery of the Piccadilly area. Every other major city of this size has a proper green space in the centre and it will have a much more obviously positive bearing on people’s views of the city and residents’ quality of life than large-scale housing in this location. There are lots of plots left in the centre that a private developer could build-out as high density housing (the lower bit of Strangeways, the New Cross area, Piccadilly, Cornbrook etc) but very few large Council-owned sites in the centre, don’t squander the rare opportunity to build a city centre park.

By Tom

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