Eric Wright PNW Ancoats 5
Vesta is due to complete in 2020

SITE VISIT | Exploring Ancoats’ residential boom

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Manchester’s Ancoats is undergoing a residential-led boom with developer Manchester Life at the forefront. Eric Wright Group has secured a contract haul of nearly £120m to deliver some of these projects: Place North West took a tour of the area with managing director John Wilson to see the emerging and completed schemes first hand.

The Ancoats of today looks significantly different to the area even five years ago and is now forming itself as a destination. The likes of Seven Brothers and Rudy’s are pulling in the punters and have recently been joined by Sugo Pasta Kitchen’s second outlet and Pollen Bakery.

The rapid regeneration of the area has drawn these businesses here with a boom in construction activity making it one of the city’s residential hotspots.

Among the busiest contractors here is Eric Wright Group, which is currently delivering five separate residential schemes, and has also completed three in the last 12 months.

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Combined, these projects have a contract value of more than £119m and provide 673 new homes.

Place North West’s tour of the area starts with Islington Wharf Phase Three, a £15m scheme set to complete in March 2019. Designed by Ryder Architecture, this features 101 properties including 17 townhouses and six duplexes, and forms the second part of a wider project; Eric Wright completed the first phase, a £12m, 46-home low-rise scheme, in December last year.

Islington Wharf is being developed by Waterside Places, a joint venture between Muse Developments and the Canal & River Trust.

Eric Wright PNW Ancoats 1

Work is well under way at Islington Wharf

The tour then follows to Vesta, a Manchester Life scheme designed by architect Rafael Vinoly. This is the largest of the schemes by contract value at £27.7m and also has the highest number of apartments at 171. Overlooking the canal basin and commanding views of the city, the concrete-frame build is set to complete in February 2020. Apartments here are for private sale.

Manchester Life, a venture between Manchester City Council and Manchester City’s owner Abu Dhabi United Group, has three preferred contractors – Graham, Eric Wright, and Sisk. Graham is currently busy delivering a Buttress-designed residential project of 201 apartments just across from Vesta.

Across the canal basin – where fellow contractor Sisk has completed two separate apartment blocks for Manchester Life, one of which will be home to Cask’s second pub in Manchester on the ground floor – Eric Wright is also undertaking a significantly challenging project at New Little Mill.

This £14.7m scheme, designed by PRP will see the contractor retain the façade of the listed mill that sits on the site, whilst building a new residential scheme inside. The façade has already been secured with a maze of scaffolding and concrete has been poured inside to make the building structurally sound before the steel-framed new-build structure can be erected within. This is due to complete by December 2020, and it features 68 apartments.

New Little Mill July 2018

A CGI of how New Little Mill will look

Further along at Cotton Square, work is also nearing completion at a 23-home scheme for developer Step Places. Eric Wright stepped in on the project after the original contractor, Harbur Construction, entered administration last year, and is set to complete by the end of 2018. This also includes the retention of a heritage asset – in this case, the Edinburgh Castle pub – and carries a contract value of £4.4m, and will also feature a commercial unit at ground floor level.

Also at Cotton Square, Eric Wright has already completed two projects: Sawmill Court, a £25.5m, 101-home development, and One Cutting Room Square, featuring 28 apartments and three townhouses in a £9.2m project. These sit around a central square home to Halle St Peter’s, currently undergoing an extension.

Surrounded by independent restaurants and bars, and featuring extensive public realm, this area exemplifies the placemaking approach that has made Ancoats – now dubbed one of “the coolest places to live in the world” – one of the city’s busiest regeneration areas.

But what next? Central Retail Park, formerly home to the likes of Toys R Us and Mothercare, is the next part to be redeveloped, with the council and Manchester Life looking to bring forward a residential-led mixed-use scheme on the site, although plans are still at a relatively early stage. Demolition is soon to get under way on a prominent site that will present the area’s next major development opportunity.

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I’ve lived there for 7 years and one thing that hasn’t changed (has arguably got worse) is the number of smackheads hanging around the marina, the Chips building, the canal towpaths, and New Islington tram stop, possibly as a result of New Islington Medical Centre also being a drug clinic.

Also the delinquent children with a penchant for arson. And the constant muggings, burglaries, and robberies (although I guess these just goes with inner-city North of England life). The “coolest area in the universe” image manufactured by the blatant (but effective) PR surrounding this area doesn’t address this.

Definitely a “tale of two cities” to walk around this place. I don’t feel comfortable with these glossy (if flimsy) boxes being thrown up around such obvious poverty.

By PR Machine

It’s still Ancoats, still full of dead heads. You can’t change the people, if anything the people are getting worse. Used to be a nice community in Ancoats. Only the dregs stayed behind.

By PDM

The new development on George Leigh Street, opposite the Council houses for retirees, is a disgrace. Uninspiring and cheap. It looks like halls of residents for students!

By Millenial

The quality of recent apartment developments in Ancoats are so poor, shame on MCR Life for allowing this to happen in an area so rich with industrial heritage. The upkeep of that ‘park’ in New Islington is also a disgrace – litter everywhere, rotting timber features and a sense that nobody cares. Some great food & drink places though, but don’t think I’d ever want to live there based on what’s been going up over rent years.

By NQ resident

At least it is the one area of Central Manchester which is not a student ghetto. For that we should be grateful.

By Elephant

The amount of development in Ancoats since I lived there 3 years ago is staggering! It’s a shame they couldn’t make more of the area near the marina. Manchester is seriously lacking in quiet outdoor green spaces.

By Matt

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