Work starts to bring Ancoats and New Islington together

A new pedestrian bridge over Rochdale Canal is at the centre of plans to link New Islington and Ancoats on the northern edge of Manchester city centre announced today.

A £4.4m grant from the North West Development Agency will also pay for canal links and moorings in a new marina, new paths and canal walkways. All of the work is due to be completed by the end of this year.

Urban Splash, which has completed the Chips residential building of 142 apartments in the area, is also due to start work this year renovating the former Ancoats Hospital into residential and commercial space.

Paul Lakin, executive director of land and property at the NWDA, said: "New Islington is a major regeneration scheme but was at risk of delay due to current market conditions.

"Our aim is to bring new life, activity and revenue into the area. These works will achieve that, and will boost private sector confidence so that once the market improves, New Islington will see the immediate effects."

The new work will see a swing bridge adjacent to the Chips development, lock bridge enhancements over Ashton Canal to make it wheelchair accessible, a new Ashton Canal connection to the New Islington canal, new 'park keepers' hut' which will house amenities for boaters and paving alongside the New Islington canal.

Eddie Smith, chief executive of New East Manchester, said: "We welcome this investment from the NWDA which is going to be tremendously beneficial in enabling us to take New Islington to the next stage in its development. Opening up the area and connecting it to Ancoats and the Metrolink station at Pollard Street, through pathways and bridges, gives us the opportunity to attract more private sector investment through high quality commercial and residential schemes. I have no doubt that, in time, New Islington will be one of the most sought-after parts of the city to live, work and play and this is another important step towards realising this vision."

Work around the park and canals was completed by English Partnerships between 2003 and 2008 but remains fenced off. This investment will complete the work on public areas around New Islington and allow these projects to be unlocked and open to pedestrians and boats for the first time.

Tom Bloxham, chairman of Urban Splash, said: "Our ambition for New Islington was to turn the Cardroom Estate, one of the worst council estates in Manchester, into a great new place. The vision is fast becoming a reality; we already have great new homes at Chips. Guest Street and Islington Square, a worldclass NHS clinic, Manchester's newest park the Cotton Field, new canals and Old Mill Street is now one of the most striking roads in Manchester. Building on this today we announce the next phase of investment which will allow us to continue with our plans all of which will hopefully help us achieve further investment in the future."

The wider New Islington project, a mixed use development on a 12.5ha site, has so far been delivered by a partnership of urban regeneration company New East Manchester, the Homes & Communities Agency (formerly English Partnerships), Manchester City Council, lead developer Urban Splash, Great Places Housing Group and funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Once fully developed New Islington will comprise a new primary school, a new health centre, 1458 new homes and 29 retail units.

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