The city council’s masterplan for the area off Deansgate could see more than 124,000 sq ft of commercial space and 154 apartments delivered, with several vacant or under-used plots earmarked for redevelopment.
Drawn up by SimpsonHaugh, the Knott Mill masterplan covers both existing buildings and vacant development plots, covering an area bordered by the River Medlock, Renaker’s Owen Street development, and Whitworth Street West.
Primarily consisting of lower-rise office buildings and railway arches, the area is intersected by Little Peter Street and is home to a number of businesses spread across different office assets; companies based in the area include SimpsonHaugh, Fletcher Rae, Canning O’Neill, and ROC Consulting. Overall, there are a total of 118 business based in the area employing around 600 people.
As well as office space, there are also several residential developments dotted around the site, totalling 400 apartments.
Under the masterplan, a mix of new-build and retention of historic buildings is proposed, with several development plots identified.
Development opportunities are identified between Commercial Street and the Medlock, opposite Renaker’s ongoing Deansgate Square development; pedestrian links here across the river and increasing connectivity with Deansgate Square are identified as key priorities in the masterplan.
This plot, named “the fringe”, has the potential for “height and density including a significant amount of residential accommodation”, with public realm along the river forming another of the masterplan’s focuses.
Another development plot is proposed between Hewitt Street and Little Peter Street, fronting the railway arches, with several sites described as being “currently under-utilised” and ripe for potential redevelopment.
Brick-clad development is to be favoured in an effort for any new buildings to fit in with existing assets, although taller buildings could be brick-clad below with alternative cladding above.
Overall, the masterplan is proposing to add 124,000 sq ft of commercial space to the area; this is to include 77,000 sq ft of offices; 26,000 sq ft of retail, and 22,000 sq ft of hotel space.
Land ownership in the area, however, is currently fragmented; businesses including Canning O’Neill own their office locations within the masterplan area, while other landowners include AJ Bell, Aviva Investors, and Gaythorn Properties.
A large development plot, the current NCP surface car park used for parking for the Bridgewater Hall and First Street, sits next to the masterplan area but is not included within the Knott Mill masterplan.
SimpsonHaugh’s masterplan said: “Without an overall strategic approach to the area, and a drive for high-quality design, the piecemeal redevelopment of the area would represent a significant missed opportunity in terms of reinforcing its existing characteristics and creating a more sustainable neighbourhood.
“The south-western part of the city centre will play a significant part in satisfying identified current and future demand for new dwellings and commercial space in new neighbourhoods, which is required in order to support population and economic growth.
“The Knott Mill area represents an opportunity to knit together a number of larger areas, such as Great Jackson Street, Whitworth Street West and First Street, and plan strategically for how the unique characteristics and circumstances of this particular area can contribute to the continued growth of this part of the city centre.”
A previous masterplan for Knott Mill was progressed in the 1990s, with the aim of making the area a hub for creative and professional services industries.