Manchester Fort B&Q Unit
The B&Q unit at Manchester Fort would be redeveloped

Manchester Fort to diversify ‘in face of vulnerable retail market’

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

The owner of the 325,000 sq ft retail park on Manchester’s Cheetham Hill Road is looking to redevelop parts of the site, removing the existing B&Q and Halfords units to bring forward a cinema and leisure uses.

Manchester Fort opened in 2004 and is made up of 36 units. The park initially focused on bulky goods, however over the years occupiers have shifted to include retailers such as Next, H&M, Boots, M&S Food, and TK Maxx.

Investment manager Nuveen has submitted a strategic regeneration framework to Manchester City Council, outlining plans for the long-term future of the park.

According to the SRF, drafted by Turley on behalf of Nuveen, although Manchester Fort is a successful location, “a vulnerable retail market” has created “a number of threats”, and in order to “enhance its resilience to an increasingly challenging market, more needs to be done to ensure the longevity of the park”.

The proposals would see the redevelopment of the northern section of the park, incorporating further retail and leisure uses, improved public realm including a “gathering space”, and a new gateway into the site.

Manchester Fort

Indicative drawing shows proposed hotel and public realm

The overall footprint of the park is not expected to be expanded, however the existing B&Q and Halfords units have been outlined for redevelopment, as they are viewed as “remnants of the original bulky goods offer” of the park.

Alongside the creation of more flexible retail units, the overhaul would see the inclusion of an anchor cinema, a 20,000 sq ft foodstore, food and drinks outlets, and a hotel. The strategy is looking to increase dwell time on the site from the current daytime focus, into the evening.

Improvement works would look to take advantage of the potential increase in residents in North Manchester, due to the 15,000-home Northern Gateway development being brought forward by the council and Far East Consortium.

However, work at Manchester Fort is not expected to be imminent, as the redevelopment of B&Q and Halfords is dependent on the retailers moving out of their units, and there remains several years left to run on their leases.

The regeneration framework is set to be considered by Manchester City Council’s executive committee tomorrow, and then will go out to six weeks of public consultation.

Turley is advising, alongside The Harris Partnership.

Your Comments

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Cheetham Hill needs more of an urban centre, however this B&Q serves a massive market now they’ve killed of smaller hardware stores. B&Q at Old Trafford, Altrincham and Rochdale have gone in recent years. It’s a mission to Ashton, Bolton, Bury, Oldham or Trafford Park for residents of Hulme, Eastlands, Prestwich or the City Centre. Progress?

By B&Q

That’ll be the 3rd BnQ that’s shut recently after Stretford and Alti.

Any plans to relocate or are they going under?

By .

noooo we need that B&Q there, it’s the closest location to town

By Anonymous

Interesting, but what effect will this also have on the city centre, being so close, with people deciding to use their cars to travel to the fort at night (surely against sustainable transport policies)

By Dan

Screwfix any one?

By Rich X

This horrible retail park needs to go, with focus moved to smaller and localised retail that is close to home and easily accessible by all methods of transport. So much land wasted on surface car parks around the city.

By Aaron

We need to prevent out of centre schemes from diversifying any further. Just as town centres are striving to diversify their offer is this lifeline to their continued existence also going to be snubbed out by their out of centre rivals?

By Georgio

Fort provoking stuff

By Disgruntled Goat

Have been a city centre resident for 15 years and never go to B&Q unless absolutely necessary. Screwfix and Tool Station located just behind Piccadilly Station are much cheaper. Although, I wonder how much longer they will be around too!

By Steve

I don’t think B&Q and Halfords should shut down but instead move to the other side of the road where Matalan used to be. This can then pave the way for a massive Cineplex and/or aldi/lidl creating jobs in the area.

By John

Steve – do you know B+Q own screwfix?

By .

Why not put the leisure park along Dantzic St and Warford St area ? Its alot nearer town and at the present an eyesore. It must be very valuable real estate area so near the City.

By George Roberts

Wonder which cinema chain will open here. It’ll be a much better location than Printworks and Great Northern due to the better parking.

By Dan

@Dan
You’re totally right. I’d rather go to a retail park with tonnes of parking than a vibrant city centre with pretty much everything else.

By Anonymous

I’m talking about the cinema, the two city centre cinemas are dead, why do you think that is? If you’re on the booze then go to the city centre, if you want to go to the cinema go to Parrs Wood or the trafford centre, much nicer

By Dan

You can still park in the city centre though. And most people won’t drive to the cinema during peak hours, so it won’t be quite as congested and there will still be parking available. Driving into the city centre is still an option.
Cinemas are getting renovated all over the country, people don’t have to drive as far to watch a film in comfort these days.
I’d say downloadable films e.g. Kodi are the biggest reason most people don’t go the cinema anymore.
And if parking is indeed the main reason that most people aren’t going to the cinema in Manchester City Centre, that’s probably about to change with all the nearby apartments that are being built over the next few years.

By Anonymous

Retail parks – places with no soul for people with no soul

By Anonymous

B&Q does not own Screwfix they are both owned by kingfisher. They are regarded as sister companies. Also Cheetham hill b&q has just won store of the year at recent b&q conference. It’s going no where.

By J

It may also be useful to have a straight junction to get to opposite side of the Fort (Currys side) at the lights or build a bridge over the main road? People drive around causing hazards. Or build leisure facilities there as Matalan is already closed and move Currys to the other side.

By Aaron H.

Need to consider residents living in the immediate vicinity of the park, it is horrendous already trying to get out from the roads leading up off Queens Road especially during peak hours and impossible as cars block access to getting on to Queens Rd during seasonal periods, the expansion will create more traffic and noise if this is to go ahead,and once it is announced you can be sure it has been given the OK already keep clear signs need to be at the entrance of roads leading to Queens Rd,also some people visiting the park seem to have an aversion to using litter bins often I have observed people in cars throwing litter from their car windows,and as for job opportunities ,it would be interesting to do a staff survey and discover how many actually live in the immediate area.

By sally

This would be so awesome, will definitely feel like it’s a part of Manchester, can’t wait! Get starting already! Just buy the retailers out, don’t need to wait for there leases to run out!

By Anonymous

This would be so awesome, will definitely feel like it’s a part of Manchester, can’t wait! Get starting already! Just buy the retailers out, don’t need to wait for there leases to run out!

By Angelina

Sounds amazing, theres plenty of b&q’s and Halfords to shop in, everything is online now so it’s not going to make a difference if they go. we need more fun, leisure and change in place, times are changing, I vote yes, let’s make the change. I love this idea

By Katie

This would be so awesome, it will definitely feel like its a part of Manchester, cant wait. Get started already

By Angelina