UMIST North Campus University Of Manchester
The landmark Renold Building at the heart of the campus

CBRE wins North Campus delivery strategy

Paul Unger

The fate of the old UMIST campus in the University of Manchester’s estate will form the basis of a market testing study to be carried out in the coming months by CBRE on behalf of the university.

CBRE has been appointed to advise on the delivery strategy for the city centre site, much loved by architecture fans for its Brutalist and Modernist buildings, designed by Cruickshank & Seward.

However, CBRE’s remit does not stretch to finding a development partner for the university; procurement will follow CBRE’s report which is expected to be completed in the new year.

Only the Victorian Sackville Building at the edge of the campus and railway viaduct through the centre are listed and the 1960s buildings may or may not be retained.

The 30-acre site off Whitworth Street contains around 15 buildings and is still occupied by university departments while they wait to relocate to the £350m Manchester Engineering Campus Development.

The strategic regeneration framework drawn up by Bennetts Associates for the council earlier this year met with a strong response from campaigners including the Modernist and Twentieth Century Societies among others, who argued for the retention of the unlisted 1960s buildings, arguing they are as important to the built heritage of Manchester as listed Victorian structures. After consultation, the council went as far as to say certain buildings have “medium significance” and “may have the potential to be retained and refurbished” but the viability of re-use will not be tested until detailed plans are drawn up. CBRE’s work does not include producing detailed plans. The key 1960s buildings include Renold, Pariser and Jackson’s Mill.

The University of Manchester merged with the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology in 2004. The university has since decided to consolidate on the southern campus, south of the Mancunian Way.

According to the draft framework, the site could be used to create “a new hub for technology, learning, research and development”. The SRF describes options that include:

  • commercial and community buildings
  • between 1,000 and 2,500 residential units
  • 1.4m sq ft offices
  • 130,000 sq ft retail and restaurant floorspace
  • and up to 500 hotel rooms

A spokesperson for CBRE said its work would devise a delivery strategy and vision for the development to build on the SRF. The study team will engage with funders, occupiers and investors to gauge their interest and gain their views on the type and volume of uses on the site.

There will also be a stakeholder consultation of council, LEP, combined authority but not a full public consultation at this stage.

The university wants the North campus to be a globally recognised site that still contributes to the university in the future.

The University of Manchester is one of the UK’s largest academic institutions, with 39,700 students. It is also one of the largest employers in Greater Manchester with more than 12,000 staff.

The university has a £1bn, 10-year plan to transform the campus and create world-class facilities for staff, students and visitors in support of its global ambitions.

Alistair Chapman, CBRE’s director of national land and development, commented: “To be involved in the delivery of the North Campus strategy is an enormous personal and professional privilege. With a major presence in Manchester, we see ourselves as stakeholders in the city and this piece of work provides the building blocks for a truly exciting scheme.

“The North Campus development represents a once in a life time opportunity for The University of Manchester to further enhance its global reputation, whilst revitalising a major part of the city totalling 11.8 hectares. We are absolutely delighted to be involved with a project of this magnitude and look forward to using our global network to help the University formulate its long-term development strategy.”

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