Manchester’s Great Northern site on Deansgate is set to become a sustainable, mixed-use neighbourhood following plans approved by Manchester City Council. The six-acre site will be transformed into a “heritage-led neighbourhood” by Trilogy Real Estate and Peterson Group. Work is expected to start in 2024.
The redevelopment will include green spaces, retail, leisure, 150,000 sq ft of office space and homes for around 1,800 people. Developers say the scheme will restore and enhance the Great Northern Warehouse, a Grade II* listed building which has been developed over time in a “piecemeal fashion”. Architect SimpsonHaugh and landscape architect Planit-IE say they intend to “return the buildings to their original splendour”, celebrating their historic features and fixing some of the “unsympathetic alterations” that had previously been made.
A new glazed atrium will be created in the centre of the warehouse to flood the space with natural light while the new offices will be enhanced by existing characterful brick walls and vaulted ceilings. Developers say a commitment to sustainable design will be demonstrated by upgrading the thermal performance of the warehouse to meet the technical standard of “BREEAM Excellent”. This is a rarity in listed buildings of its kind.
Deansgate Terrace, currently home to hospitality businesses like Platzki, Evuna and Alex’s Bakery as well as independent clothing shop Limited Clothing and a number of long-established estate agents will be “restored and refreshed” to provide 30,000 sq ft of flexible commercial space within its upper levels. These will be connected by bridge to the warehouse.
Two new pedestrian streets will be created. The first, called Dean Street, will run between the warehouse and Deansgate Terrace while the second, Alport Street will connect Deansgate and Watson Street.
Deansgate Mews, also home to a number of indie businesses like Another Hand, Dormouse Chocolates and Lion’s Den, will be retained and remain an affordable space for local businesses. Access to the Mews will be improved. Hopefully this will enable the fantastic businesses that already operate there to reach more customers.
The ‘Leisure Box’ site which was added in 1990 and currently houses an Odeon cinema, a gym and a car park will be redeveloped into three residential buildings. These will comprise 746 one, two, and three-bedroom apartments. Two taller buildings of 27 and 34 storeys will be added, rising from a two-storey podium building. On the roof of the podium building, residents will benefit from a 2,000 sq m shared private courtyard. By retaining the foundations and basement floor of the Leisure Box, developers say they will “substantially reduce the carbon footprint” of the construction.
Finally, the Great Northern Square will be re-landscaped to provide a “biodiverse” public realm green space for relaxation and leisure. Families will be pleased to hear that the sandpit and play area will stay.
Robert Wolstenholme, Founder & CEO of Trilogy, said: “A huge team has worked tirelessly and with huge passion for over 8 years to listen, design and refine to arrive at a proposed scheme we hope Manchester will proud of. There is much still to do and we will continue to work hard to bring to life what has been in our imaginations for so many years. We greatly look forward to continuing to build a community of the best of the north at the Great Northern.”
Nick Owen, partner at SimpsonHaugh, said: “We are delighted that the proposals for the Great Northern have been approved. We now look forward to delivering on our vision for this important site, creating a thriving and sustainable mixed-use neighbourhood, celebrating the site’s unique built heritage, and creating a place for everyone to enjoy.”
Lindsay Humblet, Director at Planit-IE, said: “This is a fantastic result and once complete will become an exemplar of how landscape architecture will enrich the neighbourhood, its emerging community and also contribute to a greener future for Manchester city centre.”