Manchester City Council’s executive has endorsed plans to bring forward a strategic regeneration framework for the Oxford Road Corridor, set to see more than 4m sq ft of development by 2025, focussed on four sites offering commercial space for science, health, and technology.
Currently, the Oxford Road Corridor is one of Manchester’s most important commercial sites, generating around £3bn in GVA per year, accounting for 20% of the city’s economic output over the past five years. Its current development pipeline features 4m sq ft of largely commercial, research, and education space.
The draft framework, which looks to take advantage of the growing commercial, health, science, and education clusters in the area, is split into four key sites: Upper Brook Street, the former Elizabeth Gaskell Campus, Willmott Street, and Birchall Way.
Three of these do not currently have a set of guiding principles for development, while Willmott Street sits within the existing First Street strategic regeneration framework, which was also signed off at last week’s meeting.
At Upper Brook Street, the council has identified the site for “large-scale employment generating uses”; here there will be a commercially-led masterplan focussed on a research & development hub, along with education and research facilities. Residential uses will only be considered where it can support the delivery of commercial space, making offices and workspace the focus.
There will be the “potential for height in appropriate locations” but lower density development towards the eastern end of the site, near the Brunswick estate and Gartside Gardens.
At the former Elizabeth Gaskell Campus, the council is proposing an expanded health and innovation cluster. Already home to MSP’s Citylabs development, this area is focussed on providing commercial space potentially featuring a new hospital, laboratories, and educational space. Plans for public realm here include enhancing the east-west pedestrian route along Hathersage Road, and better links between Citylabs and the wider area.
Willmott Street, forming part of the First Street masterplan, is earmarked for a mixed-use masterplan designed to complement the office developments nearby.
A mixed-use masterplan could focus on either office or residential-led developments, with supporting retail and leisure uses; this will sit alongside First Street where Ask has already submitted plans for the next phase of development, a 160,000 sq ft office and 205-bed hotel.
Birchall Way is identified as a longer-term development opportunity and is likely to come forward in the next 10 to 20 years, according to the council.
Development here is likely to be reserved for education or commercial uses with any masterplan also set to feature social and community infrastructure, along with potential for an element of residential use.
A consultation on the draft framework will now get under way after it was endorsed by Manchester City Council’s executive last week. Following this, a completed framework will go back before the executive for final sign-off.