MIPIM | £1bn Northern Gateway ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity

A transport hub, the creation of a park linking Angel Meadow to Queen’s Park, and a series of new neighbourhoods are among the core aims of FEC’s Northern Gateway, set to deliver 15,000 homes across North Manchester over the next 10 years, said the company’s project director Tom Fenton.

Tom Fenton 2The project, which is being delivered by Far East Consortium in a joint venture with Manchester City Council, covers 390 acres stretching from Angel Meadow to Collyhurst, and includes New Cross and the Irk Valley.

Fenton set out a series of core aims for the project, including a transport hub to link the area to the wider Metrolink network.

He said a new hub on the existing Bury and Rochdale lines would help to link new homes and neighbourhoods to the rest of Greater Manchester, enhancing opportunities across the area.

The hub at Sandhills will also link into the wider bus network, while the Northern Gateway will be used to open up the frontage of the river Irk through cycling and walking routes into the city centre. The new hub will also be the focal point of a regenerated village centre at Sandhills.

Part of improving routes to and from the city centre is a “reactivation” of Rochdale Road, described as an “urban motorway” by FEC. Plans for the area include improving pedestrian links and reactivating the frontages of buildings along the road, including through leisure, housing, and retail use.

A formal consultation process is set to begin later in the year, before a strategic regeneration framework is adopted by the council.

The housing will provide a mix of tenures with affordable housing the first part of the plan to be brought forward. Fenton said FEC was working with the council to identify sites for these homes via feasibility studies, but the plan would not be to “build outwards from Victoria”, with the different areas being brought forward for development at different times.

The masterplan also focuses on the River Irk as a “natural asset” and Fenton highlighted the importance of green space to the Northern Gateway. Initial plans include a green corridor and park running from Angel Meadow north to both Queen’s Park and Heaton Park.

The professional team on the Northern Gateway also includes Arup, How, Turner & Townsend, and Farrells. Fenton said FEC had not appointed any contractors to deliver projects on the £1bn plan as yet, but that the company could potentially use a framework or a selection of preferred firms to deliver works across the area.

Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese hailed the plan as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to redevelop the Irk Valley area, and added the council and FEC would focus on providing a mix of housing tenures to meet demand.

Alongside housing, schools and healthcare provision were also highlighted as one area FEC would look to bring forward as a priority across the 390-acre site.

Land assembly is still ongoing, with FEC hopeful that much of the site can be brought together without the use of compulsory purchase order powers. Fenton said it was likely there would be parcels of land within the masterplan that will not be delivered by FEC

Alongside the Northern Gateway, FEC is also progressing with MeadowSide next to Manchester’s NOMA, which will provide 750 new homes across five buildings, alongside 6,600 sq ft of commercial space.

Designed by 5plus Architects with Cushman & Wakefield and JLL as agents, plans for the project were approved last year. It is understood a main contractor has not been appointed yet to deliver the scheme but FEC is hopeful of starting on site this year.

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