Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese described plans for a facility combining shared electric cars and e-bikes with a last mile delivery consolidation centre as “transformational”, as the application went in this week.
The project’s planning application was submitted by a strategic masterplanning vehicle set up by the council and Manchester Life, the local authority’s joint venture with investor Abu Dhabi United Group.
Plans for the so-called ‘mobility hub’ to be located between Poland Street and Ancoats Green, were trailed in April as part of a raft of projects from Manchester Life, Manchester City Council and Great Places Housing Group.
The council hopes that by the end of 2023, Ancoats Mobility Hub will operate as a shared facility to help the district grow as a ‘people first’ neighbourhood, with on-street parking removed and vehicle movements through the area reduced.
The council added that the hub will aim to “break the traditional link between residential leases and car parking leases, allowing residents to acquire and relinquish a right to a parking space as their circumstances change”.
Plans include a neighbourhood delivery depot, aimed at reducing the volume of traffic delivering direct to doors as the city looks to respond to the “last mile” challenge.
Other community facilities include a commercial unit which will be prioritised for a community and cycle repair café adjacent to Ancoats Green, and 150 secure cycle parking spaces with changing facilities for public use.
A team will manage the delivery hub, e-bikes and a car club, with parking spaces to be managed via an app.
The council said that 40% of the Hub site area is car-free outdoor public space, with a new and well-lit walking and cycling link to connect the Green into Ancoats to increase community usage and improve public safety.
The Hub is to be located on land owned by the council, currently occupied by low-rise warehouse units adjacent to Ancoats Green, which it said is the shortest and least disruptive route for vehicles to enter and leave the neighbourhood from Oldham Road.
The plans directly respond to Manchester City Council’s emerging Ancoats Public Realm Strategy, City Centre Transport Strategy, and the 2020 Poland Street Zone Neighbourhood Development Framework.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council said: “The Hub is a UK first. Anyone who thinks this is ‘just another car park’ is massively missing the point.
“The purpose of a car park is to park cars. The purpose of the Hub is to help transform the neighbourhood over time, pioneering new ways of getting around and encouraging people to choose greener and healthier transport options. This is about thinking and acting differently.
“We have to recognise that many people who choose to live in the city centre require cars for their daily life and work. But we do want to be very deliberate in making sustainable transport changes easier and more attractive – encouraging the use of electric vehicles, cycles and other forms of active travel while supporting the transition away from petrol and diesel.”
Marty Edelman, executive chairman of Manchester Life, said: “As a place maker and developer, it is critical that Manchester Life responds to the future needs of the neighbourhood. We took this approach when we formed Manchester Life in 2014, and the neighbourhood has since become an incredible community brought to life by its people and businesses.
“As we think about the future needs of Ancoats, its road limitations, and overlay with the city’s climate response and transport priorities, the need for a mobility hub is clear. This is a bold project that will improve life on day one and set the future of Ancoats on a sustainable path.”
Mike Wilton, chair of the Manchester Climate Change Partnership, said: “There is no quick fix for the climate emergency. Everyone needs to make choices about how they live day-to-day with climate change in mind. Travel and mobility within the city are priorities for change.
“We welcome the work to develop plans for the Ancoats Mobility Hub. It needs to enable and encourage people to make those low and zero-carbon travel choices.”