Manchester City Council and its development partner Far East Consortium are to seal a £51.6m funding agreement to progress the regeneration project “in the next few weeks”, but there will be no extension of the March 2024 deadline to spend the money despite Covid-19.
Manchester claimed that its original implementation plan for the first phase of the 383-acre Northern Gateway was based on an assumption that funding from Government agency Homes England would be awarded by September 2019.
However, the money from the agency’s £5.5bn Housing Infrastructure Fund, to be spent on the remediation and redevelopment of 50 acres previously owned by Network Rail in an area known as Red Bank, was not approved until February, and the agreement is yet to be formally concluded.
HM Treasury has now confirmed that the deadline for deploying the funding, set at 31 March 2024, will remain in place despite delays caused by the general election and the pandemic.
“Delays encountered to date mean that the period in which works can be delivered will be much more compressed and, as a result, officers are reviewing the scheduled programme of works,” Manchester City Council said in a report.
The council-FEC joint venture aims to make up for lost time by starting the procurement process for contractors “as soon as possible”, providing “a much-needed stimulus to the civil engineering and construction sectors in the current economic situation”, according to the report to the council’s executive.
Once the agreement has been signed, the council will receive the money monthly subject to the “successful delivery of the scheme against pre-agreed performance milestones” set out by Homes England, the report added.
Such milestones could include achieving planning consent, starting on site and practical completion.
The council has already outlined how it would like to spend the money over the next four years:
- £3.48m in 2020/21
- £20.39m in 2021/22
- £19.46 in 2022/23
- £8.27m in 2023/24
FEC and the council had planned to submit an application for another part of the first phase of Northern Gateway – comprising 330 homes in Collyhurst – this summer, but this has been delayed until later this year. The architect for that project is Buttress.
Around 130 of the Collyhurst homes will be available on affordable tenures and FEC has appointed consultant Avison Young to select a registered housing provider to operate these units. However, this residential part of the first phase is not expected to be covered by the Homes England funding.
Planning consent has already been granted for 80 new homes on Addington Street – another part of the Northern Gateway – while a planning application for 634 apartment on Dantzic Street, has also been submitted.
Cllr Suzanne Richards, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, said: “This funding is the key to unlocking the potential of the Northern Gateway project. This part of Manchester has remained untouched for some time because it requires major investment.
“Planning applications are beginning to arrive for the first elements of the project and we are looking ahead to an application for the new homes for Collyhurst in the next few months, including social and affordable homes.”