Parsonage SRF 1
Parsonage Gardens and other public realm sites would be designed under the plans

Parsonage regeneration takes step forward

Dan Whelan

Manchester City Council’s executive is to agree a strategic regeneration framework for the area between Blackfriars Street and Bridge Street, including plans to improve Parsonage Gardens and demolish the 18-storey Albert Bridge House.

The occupier of the 1950s office block, Manchester Centre for Health & Disability Assessments, is due to relocate by 2022 to nearby Three New Bailey, which is to become a hub for public sector staff. 

Under the council’s regeneration framework for the area, the outdated office block would be demolished to make way for a new office or hotel tower with large floorplates. 

The framework concerns an area bounded to the north by Blackfriars, to the south by Bridge Street, to the west by the River Irwell, and to the east by Deansgate.  

The council’s vision is to establish the area as a “commercially-led mixed-use neighbourhood” that is “a clearly definable and cohesive part of the city centre”, according to the framework document. 

The two public spaces within the area, Parsonage Gardens and Motor Square, would be activated and extended under the plans. For example, temporary or permanent pavilions would be installed in Parsonage Gardens and the buildings around the perimetre of the park extensively restored. 

Parsonage SRF

The framework area stretches from Blackfriars Street to Bridge Street

A programme of public realm improvements to improve connectivity throughout the whole area would also be carried out. 

Other proposals set out in the framework include: 

  • The potential refiguration of the 400,000 sq ft Kendal Milne Building, occupied by House of Fraser and owned by South African asset manager Investec, to include “sustainable retail use while also considering alternative uses on the upper floors”. 
  • The conversion of the NCP multistorey into an office, with retail on the ground floor 
  • Reedham House and No.3 St Mary’s Parsonage to be earmarked for use as either commercial space or a hotel, along with retail and leisure units at the ground floor 

The framework is due to be approved by the council following a period of public consultation in recent months.

The framework was drawn up by Manchester City Council with US architect KPF, Deloitte Real Estate as planning advisor, transport consultant Curtins, and heritage architect Stephen Levrant Heritage Architecture. 

Companies that own land and property within the area contributed to the plans, including property management firm Derwent Estates, Investec Bank, developer and property management firms Bruntwood and Cannon Capital Developments, estate manager Beaconsfield Commercial, and developer Property Alliance Group. 

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Sad to see Albert Bridge House go.

It may not be architecturally stunning but I think there’s some significance.

By North by North-West

Albert Bridge House could surely be refurbished and repurposed with better street and river interaction?
It’s one of the better post-war buildings in Manchester but I can see how it doesn’t fit very well into the street plan of the area.

By Aaron

Can they bulldoze the whole of the city centre and start again please .

By Anonymous

Albert Bridge House is embarrassing, a real eyesore

By Lol

There are some awful 1970s blocks here; get rid of them!

By Observer

Another lost opportunity for a river park

By Anonymous

Albert Bridge House is a good post-war building and MCC should press for a rigorous viability assessment done on re-using it before any proposed demolition is considered. Perfect floorplate for a hotel. Sub-divisibility of office floorplate is limited with the core at one end but given the floors are only c.5k sq.ft that’s right in the sweet spot for a lot of tenants. According to office local agents, 80% of lettings are for 3-5k sq.ft.

By mgh

It will be a shame to see Albert Bridge House go…Knocking down all that concrete and glass to replace it with fresh concrete and new glass doesn’t seem to be environmentally efficient. Surely a sympathetic refurb could bring it up to modern standards.

By Allotmentdad2

The most embarrassing square of many is that awful square facing Albert House off Bridge street. Can the council not do something with that eyesore. Manchester is as bad at squares as it is at parks.

By Elephant

The building is a horror show. It needs removing like yesterday. Whatever gets built its going to be 20+ storeys, just hope it’s a quality design and build.

By Robert Fuller

Albert Bridge House is a good example of 1960/70s architecture it should be saved and refurbished not demolished to make way for a dull modern office block similar to other dull office blocks being built around Manchester.

By Lenny68

I struggle to understand why the council would promote the demolition of a perfectly serviceable office complex, yet the conversion of a car park into offices. Where is the sense in that? Why should buildings that are structurally sound even be considered for demolition in an economy that ought to be committed to carbon reduction?

By Richard Brook