Construction could begin late this year. Credit: via ING Media

Shackles off for U+I at Manchester’s Mayfield 

Landsec’s acquisition of the developer last year has given U+I “incredible freedom” to deliver the 24-acre regeneration project, creative director Martyn Evans told Place North West during the British Council for Offices’ 2022 Conference. 

Landsec’s acquisition of the developer last year has given U+I “incredible freedom” to deliver the 24-acre regeneration project, creative director Martyn Evans told Place North West during the British Council for Offices’ 2022 Conference.

Following the completion of the takeover last year, talks between Landsec and Mayfield partners over funding for the first phase are ongoing.

More broadly, the £190m Landsec takeover will allow U+I to concentrate solely on creating, rather than having to worry about finding cash across its portfolio.

Landsec’s backing makes U+I an “incredibly more attractive partner to public sector partner partners”, according to Evans. 

“It is a completely different ball game for us. Having to rely on others to deliver a scheme that we created was less fun.”

“Being able to work with our parent company to seek opportunities to deploy capital to develop means certainty and it means [we have] the ability to control the quality of place,” Evans explained. 

“[The projects] we design at the beginning we can look to deliver and hold so we can see the entire life of a place.” 

With financial backing from Landsec ready to be deployed, Evans said a start on site for the first phase of offices at Mayfield is still scheduled to begin before the end of this year or early next.

Martyn Evans explains what’s next for Mayfield during the BCO 2022 conference. Credit: Place North West

Mayfield’s first phase includes a 581-space multi-storey car park and 319,900 sq ft of commercial space across two buildings, named Poulton and Republic. 

“It’s likely that we’ll build the first, smaller building speculatively. In parallel, we will be out in the market looking for pre-lets for the larger building,” Evans said. 

Mayfield – being delivered by a joint venture between U+I, Manchester City Council, LCR and TfGM – could provide up to 2m sq ft of workspace once complete. Despite a focus on commercial, Evans stressed that the development, one of the city’s most high profile, will be more than just offices. 

“[Mayfield] is 24 acres at the centre of a global city. What we’re trying to do here is not create a property development but a place,” he said. 

As well as offices, the development will also feature up to 2,000 homes and 300,000 sq ft of leisure space. 

However, it is the scheme’s much-vaunted seven-acre park, delivered thanks to a £23m government grant, that could turn out to be the jewel in Mayfield’s crown when it comes to attracting occupiers. 

From Circle Square to the Northern Quarter, Manchester offers potential commercial occupiers a great variety of districts to choose from, but the buildings that will eventually be delivered around Mayfield’s park will benefit from something no other scheme in the city has, Evans said. 

“If you want to come to a green space in the centre of the city and put your office next to a park and a river, this is where you do that.” 

The park is due to open this autumn. Credit: Place North West

Different types of occupiers tend to gravitate to different areas of the city. Tech companies have recently been choosing between Circle Square and Enterprise City, while professional services firms have long favoured Spinningfields. 

At Mayfield, anyone will be welcome, according to Evans. 

“We’ve got nearly 2m sq ft of commercial property here. If we haven’t got room for pretty much any sort of company that wants to come here then there’s something wrong.” 

The drum banging that has accompanied the creation of the park has only served to increase the pressure that comes with delivering such a high-profile project. 

The lack of building work that has taken place since U+I became involved in Mayfield back in 2016 adds to that pressure, too.  

But the U+I of 2016 is different from the 2022 version, which will soon be absorbed by Landsec to create a new regeneration team. For the staff involved, the shackles are off and the future seems bright. 

After years of speculation about when work would start on Manchester’s most eagerly awaited neighbourhood, Landsec’s arrival on the scene as solidified confidence in the project for those involved.

“There’s no point in waiting,” Evans said. “We need to get building.” 

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YES MANCHESTER! GET IN!!!

By Anonymous

About time! This must be the longest waited major development in the city centre. In a great place though, right next to a major train station and developing nicely. Could we see more Civil service jobs coming here? With HS2 starting the odds must be good longer term.

By Major Tom

‘We need to get building’ indeed. This site has been ongoing longer than Wirral waters . Good to see the park appearing though. Now let’s gets get the cranes out.

By Anonymous

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