A ground-breaking ceremony was held today to mark the start on site of the first phase of Dransfield Properites' new Openshaw district centre in east Manchester.
The £40m retail development on an 11.9 acre site off Ashton Old Road is being anchored by an 80,000 sq ft Morrisons store and also includes a range of smaller shops, 670 car parking spaces, office accommodation, improvements to the public realm and a piece of public art.
Barnsley-based developers Dransfield Properties are undertaking the construction of the 250,000 sq ft district centre off Ashton Old Road in partnership with urban regeneration company New East Manchester. PDR Construction is undertaking this first phase of the construction work.
School children Luke Murphy and Kate Weir, both aged 10 years, from St Clement's C of E Primary School in Openshaw, joined representatives from Manchester City Council, New East Manchester, Dransfield Properties and Sir Ian Gibson, chairman of Morrisons, who grew up in Openshaw, to cut the first sod of turf.
Eddie Smith, chief executive of New East Manchester, said: "We are very pleased to have Sir Ian here to mark this important milestone for Openshaw. Openshaw is already benefiting from improved amenities and developments including a fantastic new health centre, the Sporting Edge and the New Roundhouse community facilities, new homes in the Toxteth Street area and a new Greggs bakery that has safeguarded 250 jobs. All this is helping make Openshaw a more attractive, family-focused neighbourhood which will benefit existing residents and encourage more people to choose to move to the area."
Cllr Jim Battle, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, added: "Building this new superstore marks the start of a new era for Openshaw. The new district centre will breathe new life into this important part of east Manchester, eventually creating 750 new jobs and creating the opportunity for further facilities in the future including a new leisure centre. This is an excellent example of the public and private sector working together to bring forward investment that will significantly improve the lives of local people."
It has taken seven years from inception for the project to reach this stage and follows the demolition work by Windmill Demolition from April last year. The Denton-based company demolished the former social security offices as well as a snooker club and bank, all fronting Ashton Old Road in Openshaw.