Emerging masterplans, the next phase of growth for Greater Manchester’s towns, and upcoming city centre development hotspots were all in focus at this Place North West event.
Attended by nearly 300 property professionals, the half-day conference at Manchester’s Science & Industry Museum focused on development opportunities around Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs.
Speakers included Adam Higgins, co-founder of Capital & Centric; Jon Matthews, founder of Jon Matthews Architects; Stephen Bell, head of planning North at Turley; Paul Kelly, development director, Scarborough Group International; Lynda Shillaw, property director, Town Centre Securities; Jaimie Ferguson, director, Open; Mark Booth, managing director, Himor Group; Sara Todd, chief executive, Trafford Council; Becca Heron, director of economy and skills, Wigan Council; Gerry Brough, director of place at Bolton Council; and Simon Warburton, transport strategy director at Transport for Greater Manchester.
The event was sponsored by Curtins, JMW, Kingsley, Premier Guarantee, and Turley, and was chaired by Place North West editor Jessica Middleton-Pugh.
Adam Higgins of Capital & Centric began with a presentation on the developer’s projects, both completed and upcoming, in Manchester and Salford.
These include Kampus, currently being delivered in a joint venture with Henry Boot Developments. Set to feature 553 residential units on a city centre site, the scheme has been on site for two years and is set to complete in summer 2020. Higgins said the focus of the scheme was its green space, with a deliberate move to re-use heritage assets and give the design an “overgrown” look.
Other projects showcased by Higgins included Crusader, a part warehouse-refurbishment, part new-build residential scheme near Piccadilly, and the proposed Leonardo Hotel on Adair Street, designed by Stephenson Studio.
Jon Matthews, founder of the eponymous architecture practice, then presented on some of his firm’s projects within the city centre, with a focus on MeadowSide, a 750-home scheme set around Angel Meadows.
Working with developer FEC, the development features a series of buildings around the park, taking inspiration from New York’s Central Park. The tallest is on Plot 4, which reaches to 40 storeys and features winter gardens every 10 floors. Two other plots are currently on site.
Plans for a development with Salboy at Back Turner Street were also highlighted, with the controversial scheme securing planning permission in the last few weeks.
“[Back Turner Street] courted too much controversy for what it is – contextual modernism, not too high, with activity at ground floor,” said Matthews.
“It got mixed up in local politics and animosity; synonymous of where we are as a development community, in that some people feel left behind, and there’s a backlash against that. It’s up to us as architects to make the positive case for regeneration.
“We’ve ended up designing a 16-storey building reflecting where Manchester is going, not where it has been.”
City centre development
A panel discussion then followed featuring Adam Higgins, Lynda Shillaw, Stephen Bell, and Paul Kelly.
- Shillaw said TCS, which owns a 15-acre plot at the Piccadilly Basin is evaluating the timing of bringing forward a 128 bed apartment scheme which has planning approval called Eider House, having completed a 91 bed apartment scheme Burlington House earlier this year. The scheme’s masterplan also has a further two residential towers on the corner of Port Street and Great Ancoats Street.
- The developer is also eyeing 220,000 sq ft of offices on land largely used for surface car parking
- Kelly outlined Scarborough’s development at Middlewood Locks in Salford, where the focus has initially been residential; he said the focus now would be to shift to a more mixed-use project with an office, while the developer was also looking at bringing forward a hotel
- Asked about the changing dynamic of people living in the city centre, Kelly added: “The profile of people living in the city is heavily weighted towards young people, but we’ve seen more families and older people moving back into the city”
- He added: “I’m not necessarily sure there’s the immediate demand to deal with services like schools and healthcare now: land is scarce, so there’s a viability aspect”
- Questioned on the availability of land in the city centre for development, Bell said: “I don’t think we’re running out of sites; there’s natural progression.
- “There are a number of sites in the city core that are still being regenerated and these will take time to build out – some of those were identified for development before the last recession that are only now being built out.
- “But it’s inevitable that the city has to spread beyond its traditional boundaries – this changes the acceptability of building at height & scale”
- Responding to a question on tension between design and development quality, Higgins said: “Development is hard to make financially viable; building costs are too high, but we try and stick to our guns to make our schemes interesting”
- On offices in the city centre and its affordability, he added: “There’s no point trying to create artificially cheap office space in the centre; otherwise the companies would never move out to surrounding towns, like Rochdale and Stockport. That applies to housing too.”
Stockport town centre
Following a networking and coffee break, Jaimie Ferguson of masterplanner Open then presented on Stockport’s upcoming Town Centre West proposal, which will see a large swathe of the town redeveloped.
A public consultation is coming later this month, featuring possible tram-train links, residential development, cycling routes, and an updated urban form.
Residential projects are likely to be “medium-rise but with some taller elements”, he said, which would open up a series of new environments: “A new face to the station, a residential offering around Hollywood Park, and opening up the riverside”.
The council will be looking to work with a number of different development partners for the area.
A presentation then followed from Himor’s managing director Mark Booth, who outlined the developer’s Future Carrington project, with a first phase set to deliver 1m sq ft of commercial development and 725 homes.
This opening phase is now on site with the first part of commercial development being built by Eric Wright; these speculative units are being marketed by JLL and have a quoting rent of between £6.50/sq ft and £7.50/sq ft.
The residential site has been cleared and has the potential to provide thousands of homes; Himor is aiming to support improved transport links, including a bus network throughout Sale West. Booth also said there would be “a significant green corridor through the site” which will remain within the Green Belt.
Town centre focus
A panel discussion then followed featuring Sara Todd, Simon Warburton, Becca Heron and Gerry Brough.
- Warburton said TfGM needed to “be clear about where our next major investments will lie” when pitching for funding: “the Trafford Park [Metrolink] line will have taken 10 years from concept to opening when it completes”
- He added Manchester city centre “was not well served as yet” by national rail, and set out TfGM’s plan to take a more direct management role in running rail franchises in the city region
- Todd highlighted Trafford’s work on the Civic Quarter, a new masterplan taking in Old Trafford Cricket Ground, the town hall, UA92, and the surrounding area
- She also pointed out a potential extension to the existing masterplan which could grow to include the area around Manchester United’s stadium and Wharfside
- “We need to make sure the public realm works,” she said. “It’s not just about people getting shipped in and out, but creating a place around Old Trafford where people will come, and local people can get jobs”
- Brough outlined Bolton’s approach to development, including its £1bn masterplan for the town centre, including reducing Bolton’s existing retail footprint. He also highlighted the growing focus on district centres, including Little Lever and Farnworth, where the council has adopted a masterplan by BDP
- On the council’s approach, he added: “We don’t as a rule invest in property, and are not that interested in getting into JVs: we’re happier to keep it simple”
- Heron acknowledged Wigan “had been a bit behind its neighbours in terms of development” with the council not historically having a 20-30 year vision: “We had really under-sold our potential”
- “We are looking again at how the council can work with the market to bring development forward – the need to diversify our economy; growing digital and creative sector and our need to do more to foster and nurture that”
- A key priority is Wigan town centre, where the council has purchased The Galleries shopping centre for redevelopment
- She added the council “recognised the viability issues” with redeveloping The Galleries and said it would be looking for a “co-investor” to help bring it forward
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