Partner for Collyhurst problem site close to being named

A major private sector investment partner is due to be selected by Manchester City Council in the coming weeks to deliver the long-awaited development of up to 8,000 homes in the Collyhurst and Irk Valley area, branded Northern Gateway.

A shortlist of two property investors has been drawn up and both are going through competitive dialogue with the council and Manchester Place, the partnership between the Homes & Communities Agency and the council.

Northern Gateway Collyhurst

The area has been blighted by poor house prices and rundown estates for many years. Repeated attempts by the council to attract a partner during the past decade have failed.

The site stretches 300 acres from Victoria Station northwards incorporating NOMA neighbourhoods, Lower Irk Valley, New Cross and Collyhurst. The council hopes to use Northern Gateway to kick-start further regeneration in the area.

Sources close to the contest said the partner will be an investor as opposed to a developer. The investor will form a joint venture with the council and bring housing forward in phases through the appointment of different developers for different sites. This will guard against reliance on a single developer if the market turns downwards. It also allows for different approaches; high rise apartment living closer to the city centre and lower buildings aimed at families up the valley. Northern Gateway would take at least 10 to 15 years to deliver. The site faces difficulties of land remediation and working in the river valley.

Northern Gateway is said to be one of Sir Howard Bernsteinā€™s priorities before he leaves as chief executive next spring.

The tender process is being run by adviser GVA.

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A really interesting approach – makes you wonder why this is not being employed elsewhere. Hopefully this means both output and quality will be much higher than would be the case if the council had partnered with a private developer in a more conventional set-up.

By Colin Hurst

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