Plans for a five-building office complex at Pollard Street, New Islington, mooted by the developer last year, have been lodged with Manchester City Council.
General Projects, a London-based developer that specialises in “creative modern marketplaces” envisages a hub that would bring together more than 100 small and medium-sized businesses with larger, blue-chip companies.
The 325,000 sq ft scheme on Pollard Street would be the developer’s first in Manchester. Under the proposals, General Projects would construct five buildings containing a mix of office space ranging from micro-units to grade A ‘innovation’ offices, intended to appeal to ambitious start-ups, fast-growing SMEs and more established businesses.
The buildings would be located alongside the Ashton Canal and designed by architects Hawkins\Brown and landscape architects Planit-IE, with inspiration taken from Manchester’s heritage cotton and textile mills.
The proposals also include the delivery of more than two acres of public space, funded by a £5m investment by the developer into landscaping and green space – including planting 50 trees on site and offering 550 bike spaces – to create a healthier and car-free environment. Manchester-based Civic Engineers is the civil, structural and transport engineer.
The scheme is part of a refreshed masterplan for the area of East Manchester known as Eastlands, considered by the city council last year. At the time, General Projects’ proposed office hub was to span 200,000 sq ft, instead of 325,000 sq ft, and it was to be known as MXM. The gross area of the scheme is 500,000 sq ft.
The developer’s expanded proposal is intended to set a new standard for ‘social impact’ in the city. Organisations based at the campus would support local people through a ‘community give back’ scheme coordinated in partnership with Manchester City Council, according to General Projects.
Initiatives to be provided under the scheme would include mentoring, training, employment or apprenticeship opportunities, and almost £8m of social value would be generated for the local community over a five-year period, General Projects said.
Jacob Loftus, founder and chief executive of General Projects, said: “We are excited to be bringing our plans for Pollard Street forward.
“We have been eager to work in Manchester for a long time and while we know that the pandemic will bring challenges for the local economy in the short term, it remains a city alive with an extraordinary buzz of enterprise, innovation and culture.
“At Pollard Street, we see the opportunity to do something different, and with a very significant social impact, to drive economic recovery forward by creating new opportunities for start-ups, entrepreneurs and local people. We hope to set a new benchmark for delivering transformative social value through the built environment.”
Katie Tonkinson, partner at Hawkins\Brown and head of its Studio North practice, said: “The scheme is committed to placemaking first with the offer of high-quality public realm and a collection of buildings that champion social awareness, wellbeing and innovation, integrated with the context.
“Pollard Street will be an amazing place to work, built around commitments to community and quality.”
General Projects added that it would adopt a ‘Manchester-first’ procurement policy in delivering the scheme, with at least 25% of supply chain spend to be within Greater Manchester.
Said Loftus: “We see our role as developer and building operator and also an enabler in terms of community engagement and social impact, by removing many of the barriers that would prevent a lot of businesses from wanting to put something back into their local area.”