Property management firm Meanwhile Creative has unveiled plans to develop a shipping container-based business hub on a two-acre plot on Pollard Street East in Ancoats, with up to 300 containers to be based at the site, although a planning application is yet to be submitted.
Bristol-based Meanwhile launched in 2012 and controls office and studio shared workspaces in a variety of office, studio, warehouse and container settings, both in its home city and Cardiff.
The vacant Ancoats is understood to be in the ownership of Manchester City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester; Meanwhile said it had acquired the land on a long-term lease in September this year.
Branding it as Pollard Yard, it intends to provide affordable workspaces for local entrepreneurs, sole traders and creatives. Thirty ‘oven-ready’ workspaces are planned to open in the next two months as a pilot, with the rest of the land being made available for local organisations to hold events on in the run up to Christmas.
Meanwhile Creative said that while it did not yet have planning permission for the site, it was “currently in discussions with a planning consultant about the long-term vision for the site”.
A £1m investment into the project and addition of over 250 more container workspaces are planned to begin in the New Year, however Meanwhile is yet to submit a planning application to Manchester City Council.
Should the scheme go ahead, tenants will be offered flexible monthly rolling contracts, with the smaller size containers costing £160 per month initially.
Meanwhile Creative currently provides studio and office space to more than 250 businesses, which employ around 1,250 people – should the Manchester scheme succeed, it would more than double those figures.
The business said it is looking for expressions of interests from event organisers, community projects, programmers and producers looking for open air event and filming space near Ancoats.
Founder and managing director Fred Wyatt said: “Having trialled the concept in smaller cities, we found there was a real appetite for affordable spaces and Manchester with its rich industrial history was my dream location for our next move.
“Our aim is to support enterprise through providing inexpensive premises for businesses to flourish. A lot of our tenants sign up for a month to test the water and don’t really think of themselves as having a business when they first join us. To still see some of them with us five years down the line is fantastic.”
The first Pollard Yard open day is planned to run on 29 November.
Shipping containers have become a significant part of regeneration in recent years, with notable developments including Manchester’s Sharp Project using them for business space, and the likes of Bruntwood, with Hatch, and BoxPark using them as a basis for retail and leisure. Developer CanoCo has this year advanced plans for a container-based retail and leisure scheme in Toxteth, Liverpool.