Manchester City Council is to consider proposals for a £27.6m loan that will allow Manchester College to take forward its plans for a new city centre campus at the former Boddington’s Brewery site.
A report recommending that the loan be approved is to go before the economy scrutiny committee on 6 December, with any recommendations made to go before the council’s executive on 12 December. Full council on 30 January is recommended to approve a capital budget increase, to be funded by borrowing, of £17.6m in 2018-19 and £10m in 2019-20.
Place North West revealed in August that the college had decided on the former brewery in Strangeways as its preferred location, and an option agreement has now been signed. Advised by Cushman & Wakefield, the college had whittled a longlist of 12 sites down to four in March. In July, LTE, which also has Pearson Fraser on board as advisor, issued a notice flagging its intention to appoint a contractor for a facility of up to 200,000 sq ft for what is the key element in its estate reduction strategy.
In its report to go before the committees, the council’s regeneration team describes the site as highly accessible, within its Northern Gateway/Great Ducie Street regeneration area. Furthermore, it said, the college campus will play a key role in improving skills levels, with a particular emphasis on technical-level qualifications, to be rolled out nationally from 2020. Sitting alongside academic qualifications and apprenticeship schemes, this is a third strand of 16-19 Further Education provision.
The report said: “In Manchester, the Manchester College will be the key provider of T-levels. The work that the College is doing with employers to co-design and co-deliver curriculum is also an important foundation for T-levels, as well as delivering to the Greater Manchester and city ambition to have employers at the heart of the skills system.”
The Boddington’s site was acquired by a joint venture between Yousef Tishbi’s Realty Estates and Ask, which no longer has an interest, in 2006. The site has since seen the development and sale of a Travelodge by Marcus Worthington Properties, but has mostly been used as surface parking. Prosperity Capital Partners has this year secured consent for 556 apartments, billed as Old Brewery Gardens.
Manchester College’s facility will be within what has been marketed since 2016 as UX Manchester by Realty, a development promising up to 200,000 sq ft of offices and 80,000 sq ft of mixed commercial units.
In conclusion, the council team said, the acquisition represents “a major step forward for the Manchester College’s estates strategy. It will provide a high profile and accessible site for both learners and businesses in the city and will significantly increase the scale and quality of learning provision, with an increased emphasis on priority sectors and higher level and technical skills”.
The Shena Simon site is to be retained for additional capacity in the short to medium term.