General Projects Canal View Image October 2020
The office buildings would sit alongside the Ashton Canal

General Projects kicks off 325,000 sq ft Eastlands campus

Sarah Townsend

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.

General Projects Office Complex Square

More than two acres of public green space are contained in the proposals

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.”

 

 

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Excellent news. Still plenty of green open space to keep the NIMBY’s happy as well..looks like a well designed and thought out development

By Steve

Stunning

By Dan

Also….so nice to see some new architects in the mix!!

By Steve

So a London based developer delivering a scheme for hedge fund investors based in America. I understand the need to develop the space and make money but I think the lack of local understanding and real care for the area shows through in the application. Six large office blocks with small amounts of green space in between is not right for this plot!

By Anonymous

I had a feeling it wouldnt be long before that green space got built on.

By AR

@ Anonymous…..how is providing two acres of open space, (£5 million on landscaping and green space) along with mentoring, training, employment or apprenticeship opportunities, and almost £8m of social value and at least 25% of supply chain spent within Greater Manchester, lacking local understanding…the developer is going above and beyond what is expected…who cares who is investing…the main thing is they are investing.

By Steve

It’s a shame that the council is hell-bent on developing that particular nice little patch of green, there is plenty of scruffy derelict land just further up the road near Holt Town that should be built on instead.

By Frank

Fantastic, and great to see some of the opportunities for people being created

By Anonymous

Looks absolutely fabulous, top quality stuff.

By Manc Man

Did we ever get to the bottom of why a London developer was able to buy the land at a fraction of the market value? And why residents’ concerns and wishes have been completely ignored?

Seen the usual comments above about “NIMBYs”, but it’s not unreasonable to want to keep a park that is used by the community – especially given the huge number of people who will be moving into the area over the next few years with the new residential developments in the surrounding area.

An exceptional, balanced neighbourhood has been created and now we’re dumping a load of offices into the heart of it. It’s such a shame.

By Anonymous

@ at Anonymous….it’s not a park and never has been one, its a scruffy bit of wasteland that has always been earmarked for development. Go to Philip’s Park which is 10 mins walk away if you want an actual park or the marina! It’s not a balanced neighbourhood at all and if you looked at the bigger picture (Holt Town regeneration plan) then you would realise that.
This development is creating hundreds of jobs, apprenticeships etc and will breathe some life in to this part of Ancoats/New Islington, which has just become a piece of land for people’s dogs and a waiting area for the homeless to meet their drug dealers….

By Steve

“@ Anonymous…..how is providing two acres of open space, (£5 million on landscaping and green space) along with mentoring, training, employment or apprenticeship opportunities, and almost £8m of social value and at least 25% of supply chain spent within Greater Manchester, lacking local understanding…the developer is going above and beyond what is expected…who cares who is investing…the main thing is they are investing.”

~~~~~

Because they’re not “providing” two acres, they’re removing about four acres, and the two acres they are so kindly “providing” is split up into tiny little bits. The only reason they’re spending £5m on trees is because they’ve been given a large park at a cut price to begin with. It’s not charitable to give people some crumbs back, and lets not pretend the little pockets of landscaping are about giving back to the community. The £5m is an investment to attract tenants.

“along with mentoring, training, employment or apprenticeship opportunities, and almost £8m of social value and at least 25% of supply chain spent within Greater Manchester,” – yes, we all read the press release, thanks for repeating it.

This line – “the main thing is they are investing” – is why Manchester is being filled up with some real rubbish alongside a few very good schemes. A city needs more than buildings, it needs space for people to live and relax too. Not everything is about money. If we’re saying “the main thing is they are investing”, why not backfill the canals and create more space for offices too?

I’m not anti-development at all, but this scheme is wrong for the area.

By Anonymous

Also @ Anonymous….the freehold of the land is still owned by Manchester City Council and TFGM (Metrolink land) and a long lease of 250 years is being granted at a rent of £100,000.a year, subject to rent review…so no, the land has not been sold off at a fraction of the value as you put it. Whatever happens with the value of land over the next 250 years, the Council will still get a yearly income from the rent.

I really don’t understand your point regarding a ‘London’ developer? Allied London (clue in the name) is a London developer. Shock horror! However they have been responsible for redeveloping a huge part of the city centre, which includes Spinningfields and London Road Fire Station

By Steve

There are a lot more parks in Ancoats, this is the wrong place for one. Build it.

By Floyd

this looks a really high quality scheme – well done all! This kind of development would provide the ‘sticky’ kinds of uses to keep people around during the day generating life through the whole day rather than just at night.. oh and the land isnt a ‘PARK’ its a bit of left over wasteland that people use for letting their dogs do their business on. Phillips park is just 10 minutes away if you want a park.

By manc

This is very positive news for the eastern side of the city. Workspace, jobs, properly managed green space and a developer who appears to care for their scheme.

The only thing I would add is that Cottonfield Park is in the immediate vicinity of this proposal and provides great amenity value to the area.

By Kerrie

Excellent.

This is not a park – this was industrial land cleared to construct the ashton line – we should focus useful development and job opportunities around transport interchanges, and focus our greenspaces In appropriate areas – the area needs the daytime footfall

By sui generis