Developer Allied London is progressing the latest phase of its Enterprise City masterplan in Manchester, with the future headquarters of Booking.com almost 50% complete and other elements nearing to a close, chief executive Mike Ingall said.
“It’s not ‘business as usual’ by any stretch [amid the Covid-19 outbreak], but we are trying to get on with things as best we can within the confines of the Government’s advice,” Ingall told Place North West. “Everybody still faces massive uncertainty.”
To protect businesses and safeguard parts of the economy during the pandemic, the Government has permitted construction sites across the country to remain open subject to heightened health and safety measures, including social distancing.
It has had to allow activity to go ahead in part to enable the build of several emergency hospitals for coronavirus patients, including the conversion of Manchester Central Convention Centre into a 600-bed hospital set to complete this weekend.
Allied London is redeveloping the four-block Goods Yard in Manchester city centre into a £100m, 222,000 sq ft office campus intended to host 3,000 of online travel agency Booking.com’s staff.
Once complete, the scheme will provide 300,000 sq ft of commercial space, including the office space and a further 30,000 sq ft of retail space across three interlinked buildings.
Ingall said work at the site had halted over the past three weeks while the Government’s position on construction activity remained unclear, and while Allied worked to put in place stricter health and safety measures for workers.
Now, construction by main contractor Lendlease is due to recommence after Easter, with completion expected in February 2021, Ingall said. The scheme is currently around 40-45% built, he added.
Around 60% of building parts have been manufactured off-site as an earlier precaution taken by Allied in response to fears over the likelihood of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit and associated difficulties in procuring materials from overseas.
This has made the process far smoother than it could have been otherwise since the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, according to the chief executive.
Booking.com’s new headquarters former part of the wider regeneration of the St John’s quarter of Manchester city centre, which is set to be transformed into a technology-focussed Enterprise City under Allied’s plans launched in 2017.
The masterplan features several new builds stretching between Water Street, Liverpool Road and Quay Street, all scheduled to complete in 2026.
Allied is close to completing the ABC Buildings, a cluster for media organisations. The Everyman Theatre has pre-leased 10,500 sq ft to operate three screening rooms, a bar and restaurant at the former Astley & Byrom House.
Allied also started work in November to build a nine-storey office building at the former Granada TV building, Old Granada Studios, delivered by Bowmer + Kirkland. The building will also feature a hotel and 4,000 sq ft rooftop extension.
Meanwhile, fit-out is almost complete for the Bonded Warehouse building, according to Ingalls, after the developer changed use on this project from offices to leisure.
As well as Lendlease, the professional team for Enterprise City includes architects Denton Corker Marshall and Chapman Taylor, structural engineer Curtins, M&E consultant Crooks Walker, and principal designer Orsa.