Central Salford, the urban regeneration company, has hired landscape architect Whitelaw Turkington and Arup to work up plans for improved linkages between Ask and Network Rail's Greengate site and Manchester city centre.
Chris Farrow, chief executive of Central Salford, speaking at the organisation's annual progress update event at the Lowry hotel last night, said: "We have brought in Whitelaw Turkington, who are exceptional architectural engineers, to work up the scheme. It is massively important to improve the physical connectivity between Salford and Manchester at that point."
Farrow cheekily called the site the best that the BBC never had (Ask's Central Spine, Manchester, was runner up to Peel's Media City UK in Salford Quays to land the BBC relocation) but said it did not link well currently with Harvey Nichols and Manchester Cathedral nearby. Plans are likely to include new pedestrian bridges and urban art settings.
As well as the newly appointed architects and engineers the team includes Faithful & Gould and Turner & Townsend on the project management side.
Ken Knott, chief executive of Ask and part of last night's discussion panel, admitted that development had stalled due to the credit crunch but said he was in talks with English Partnerships to bring public realm work forward.
Ask has outline consent for 3.25m sq ft at the 32-acre, £500m scheme on land largely owned by Network Rail.
Last night's event was sponsored by Urban Vision and Pannone LLP. Also on the panel were Simon Ashdown, development director, LPC Living; Andrew Simpson, managing director, Peel Holdings; Peter Crowther, development director, Bruntwood; Les Brown, regional project director, Countryside Properties.