Manchester City Council is set to approve the final version of the regeneration framework for Great Ducie Street, outlining plans for homes in “buildings of scale” and 2.8m sq ft of commercial space around the Strangeways area.
The site wraps around, but does not include, the former Boddingtons brewery site, close to NOMA, the Northern Gateway and the Manchester Arena. The framework has been made by Deloitte and SimpsonHaugh on behalf of the council, and was put out to public consultation in August. Of 1,900 letters sent out to local residents, there were 12 responses.
In what is expected to be a 20-year delivery period, the SRF outlines the potential for a mixed-use neighbourhood, building on the area’s textile industry and “legacy of enterprise and employment” by adding 1.7m sq ft of commercial space to that already in existence on the site, bringing the total to 2.8m sq ft. Alongside, half of the total properties in the area will be for residential use, delivered in “buildings of scale” and intended for a range of occupiers.
The framework stresses the importance of sustainability, architectural diversity, maximising the potential of the River Irwell, and revitalising an area which is “susceptible to decline” through providing “a place to live in that is different… ‘difference’ defined as a wider range of housing typologies than are visible in the city core.”
The SRF also takes a hard line on developers who may use land costs and viability issues as excuses for avoiding delivering quality, and landowners who sit on sites in an attempt to make more profit.
The Great Ducie Street area is currently largely surface car parking, which the SRF said will be replaced by multi-storey car parks in future developments, due to the area’s importance for commuter parking.
The commercial spaces are expected to be aimed at small-scale manufacturing, ‘Made in Britain’ brands, and digital and e-commerce within the fashion industry. There will also be large floorplates to appeal to professional services firms.
While the SRF concedes that “it is unlikely this scheme could be delivered in full in this current positive economic cycle”, a possible first phase of homes has been identified. This relates to land owned and occupied by Whispering Smith, the Faith Life Centre and adjoining riverside green space which extends northwards, to west of Mary Street, into land owned by Manchester City Council.
The site is split into several “character areas” to guide development. The northern half of site will gradually rise in scale from Mary Street, whilst buildings nearer to Trinity Way and New Bridge Street to the south will be nearer in scale to the city centre.
Mary Street and Southall Street will be focused on commercially-led schemes, connecting it to the office development planned at Boddington’s.
Cheetham Hill Gateway will be the residential area, with “prominent corners suitable for buildings of scale”. At Park Place, there will be a mix of residential and commercial, “noteworthy buildings retained” and a key area of public realm.
The council has already started cleaning up the surrounding area in anticipation of development, closing down four properties on Harris Street in Strangeways being used to sell counterfeit goods, three streets away from the Great Ducie Street regeneration zone.
Alongside removing illegal activity, the publication of the Great Ducie Street SRF has also led to fears that the area may lose some of its community and creative occupiers, such as campaigning group Partisan Collective, and clubs White Hotel and Hidden, who are based out of light industrial units.
Hidden’s venue Downtex Mill is set to be retained as part of the framework. While one consultation respondent questioned whether keeping the mill would be viable and “prohibit the creation of an attractive river front”, the SRF stressed that the building “plays a role as a creative centre and provides townscape value” so “retention is strongly encouraged”.
The council’s executive meets next Wednesday, and the final version of the SRF is recommended for approval.