Up to 530 homes in Collyhurst and an expansion of the city centre at Red Bank have been earmarked as the first steps for FEC and Manchester City Council’s £1bn Northern Gateway masterplan, with FEC project director Tom Fenton arguing the scheme is “ambitious but grounded”.
Following a public consultation in the summer, FEC and the council have presented an updated vision for the site, which stretches from Victoria Station to Queens Park via Collyhurst.
Overall, 15,000 homes are due to be delivered over the next 15 to 20 years split across seven neighbourhoods.
In a report going to the council’s economy scrutiny committee on Wednesday 6 February, the council and FEC will agree to focus their attention on two areas for the first phase of the project: Collyhurst, and Red Bank.
Phase 1a will focus on Red Bank, which is closest to Victoria Station. The area has the potential to house tall buildings alongside public squares; the existing Red Bank viaduct is also set to be re-used either as a park or a green link to Victoria Station, using New York’s High Line as a design precedent.
Investment here is designed to “unlock” wider development around the site, with a number of infrastructure interventions planned using Housing Infrastructure Fund money; the council said securing this funding was a “crucial component in mitigating the risks” of “significant” upfront infrastructure costs.
A costed schedule of placemaking interventions is being planned for this area to prepare it for development; public consultation responses showed a desire to retain heritage elements in this neighbourhood including retaining existing railway arches. FEC has already proposed re-using these as part of proposals for a “brewery quarter”.
The first of the sites at Red Bank to come forward is likely to be at Angelgate, where the developer brought architect Hawkins\Brown on board late last month, as revealed by Place North West.
A residential scheme is planned for this site, a two-acre plot on the city centre fringe which was previously proposed for a £77m, 344-home project by collapsed developer Pinnacle Angelgate. FEC is now looking to bring forward a re-brand and a refreshed planning application for what it says will be a “landmark residential development” on the site.
Phase 1b will be centred on Collyhurst and will feature up to 530 mixed-tenure houses, including 130 council houses for social rent. Existing residents will have priority on the new houses, with the council and developer arguing that preserving the existing community should be “a key objective” in the neighbourhood.
Development at Collyhurst is backed by £10.25m from the Greater Manchester Housing Fund; there had been some slowdown in drawing down this money owing to the delays to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, but now that a draft has been issued, discussions have now resumed to bring this funding on stream.
At least 20% of the homes in this area will be set aside as affordable.
The initial phases of development may require what the council says is “selective demolition of existing properties” although exact details of this have not yet been revealed.
The council added: “No demolition of existing properties will take place until after the new build properties are in place, and that any residents affected will be rehoused within the area – into these new properties – if that is the choice that they wish to make”.
Delivery of new socially-rented homes in Collyhurst was “a priority objective”, added the council, with all funding options being explored.
If Housing Infrastructure Fund money is secured, it will be used for a series of infrastructure interventions. These are:
- Works to the River Irk to increase flood resilience and dealing with invasive species
- Adding a new electricity substation and power distribution network
- New highways access and land remediation
- Delivery of the initial phases of the proposed City River Park
As well as HIF money, the council has committed £25m toward infrastructure and land assembly, along with an unspecified contribution from FEC.
The first planning submissions for both Red Bank and Collyhurst are expected this year. Looking further forward, there are an additional five neighbourhoods in the Northern Gateway; these are New Town; New Cross; South Collyhurst; Vauxhall Gardens; and Eggington Street and the Smedley Dip.
FEC project director Tom Fenton said: “This feedback from this public consultation marks another important milestone in the evolution of the project and takes us a step closer to be able to deliver much needed housing for Manchester close to the city centre.
“In partnership with the city council and the consultant team we believe we have crafted a vision for the Northern Gateway which we hope both existing and future residents will support.
“We have invested a lot of time and effort into understanding the area and studying the constraints presented by its industrial legacy and how we can turn those constraints into opportunities within the vision.
“The vision is ambitious, but we believe that it is grounded and entirely capable of being realised and we are excited about beginning to deliver it over the coming months.”
Cllr Suzanne Richards, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, added: “I’m really pleased that so many local residents took the opportunity to engage with this consultation in a meaningful way, helping shape the future of their area and the principles for the Northern Gateway.
“This is an important project for Manchester and its people, so it’s vital that we get their opinions early on and continue to work closely with the community. The majority of responses have been supportive of the proposals and we will continue to consult with residents and local businesses as more detailed plans are developed.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity to create genuine change in Collyhurst and the wider Northern Gateway. The Northern Gateway is vital to create the homes we need, including homes that are affordable to those on the lowest incomes. Whilst also underpinning economic and residential growth in the region over the next 15 to 20 years.”
Manchester City Council’s executive is due to endorse the plans on 13 February.
The professional team on the Northern Gateway is made up of masterplanner Farrells; cost consultant Turner & Townsend; planning consultant Avison Young; Landscape architect Planit IE; engineering, transport remediation and sustainability consultant Arup; economic development consultant Regeneris; and project manager Buro Four.