Two years after proposals were launched at the MIPIM expo in Cannes, a joint venture between the University of Manchester and Bruntwood SciTech reported by Place North West last week can start masterplanning the 26-acre ‘innovation district’, with architects likely to be appointed this year.
The university has picked Bruntwood SciTech – itself a joint venture between developer Bruntwood and fund manager Legal & General – as its delivery partner for the £1.5bn ID Manchester mega-project to be located off the city’s Oxford Road.
London-based real estate investor Stanhope, which was named alongside Bruntwood as a proposed JV partner during the 18-month tender process, is to join the wider project team for ID Manchester as development manager. Meanwhile, Allies and Morrison has produced a series of early-stage concept images for the emerging JV.
In an official announcement of the news today, Bruntwood chief executive Chris Oglesby said the next step is to legally incorporate the University of Manchester-Bruntwood SciTech JV responsible for delivering the project. After that, the hunt for an architect and other companies to draw up a masterplan can begin.
“Our intention is that by 2035, ID Manchester will be recognised as one of the world’s leading innovation hubs,” Oglesby said.
ID Manchester has been billed as one of the highest-profile regeneration opportunities in the country. Proposed to span 4m sq ft, it is intended to attract science, research, development, cultural and technology companies to the university’s city centre property estate.
A total of 2.6m sq ft of offices and other workspace is proposed, along with some residential development and three acres of public realm. The site is next to the 650,000 sq ft, grade two-listed Sackville Building, which would be repurposed as part of the project, according to the early plans. The university would continue to occupy the £60m Masdar Building, home to the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre.
“This is a truly unique opportunity,” Oglesby said. “Working in partnership with the University of Manchester, we will create a global exemplar that will support national and international investment into science and technology, creating new pathways for the translation of research and new cultures for enterprise.
“It’s also an opportunity to build something with purpose and a social conscience at its heart from the outset. ID Manchester will champion a more progressive and sustainable model of economic success, one that works for all people and the planet.
“To be selected to deliver a project of such scale, ambition and international significance is a privilege and we cannot wait to get started.”
A series of temporary ‘meanwhile’ uses for parts of the site are likely to be brought forward in the coming months while the masterplanning process gets underway, added the university’s director of estates and facilities Diana Hampson.
“We are planning to start moving out of the university buildings [tipped to create ID Manchester] from next year, but we really don’t want to wait for activity to start on site while we create this best-in-class partnership,” she said, speaking alongside Oglesby and the university’s president and vice-chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell in the university’s Great Hall this morning.
“We want to hit the ground running – we are ready, Bruntwood SciTech is ready, and you may see movement there much sooner than you would have expected.”
Following a tender process much delayed due to the pandemic, Bruntwood SciTech beat off competition from other contenders in a four-party shortlist that featured HBD and Singapore-based investor Mapletree Investments, which both dropped out of the running earlier this year.
The developer is already building the £750m Circle Square mixed-use scheme on Oxford Road in partnership with housebuilder Vita Group. The project comprises more than 1,700 new homes, 1.2m sq ft of workspace and more than 100,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space.
Dame Nancy Rothwell said: “The journey to find our joint venture partner to work with us on delivering ID Manchester has been hugely rewarding for everyone involved. The quality and calibre of the submissions we received was truly outstanding and I would like to extend our gratitude to those who were unsuccessful.
“Innovation is a core theme for the university as we enter our third century. ID Manchester will provide more chances for our research to have an impact on the real world, and it will be a place where we address the challenges facing the globe in the 21st century and explore new ideas to improve the health, wealth and happiness of our fellow citizens.”
Bruntwood SciTech shares “many of the same values and principles” as the university, including that of sustainable development, she added.
“We look forward to working together to create an outstanding innovation district that will play a large role in helping the UK to build back better.”