Green oasis aspiration for £850m Mayfield

James Heather

The £850m Mayfield project will be the most important regeneration scheme in Manchester for the next decade and will resolve the long-standing shortage of green space in the city.

This is according to James Heather, development director of U+I, and the man who is behind the plan to turn the 24-acre site near Piccadilly Station and eventually the HS2 hub, into a thriving new neighbourhood.

Alongside public sector joint-venture partners LCR, Manchester City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester, U+I is acting as development manager to create a “new vision for the way Mayfield may be”.

Speaking at a property lunch hosted by TheBusinessDesk at Mr Cooper’s House and Garden at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, Heather spoke of the intention to create a central park in the scheme, which will also include 1,300 homes and the integration of the former Mayfield depot.

“There is really a dearth of green space of any significant size in the city,” he said. “Because we’ve got such a site, we’ve got an opportunity to provide that much-needed space. This is probably the most important single element that the partners want to deliver.”

Adjoining the park and the River Medlock, on the south side up to the Mancunian Way, there will be apartments, big and small, and town houses and retirement homes which will emerge over the next 15 years.

The commercial element of the site, he said would be based around the depot on the north side.

“We’ve got some fantastic ideas about how we are actually going to be building through, in and around the depot, bearing in mind its proximity the station (Piccadilly) and the HS2 hub.”

He described how the depot and former Mayfield railway station was built in 1910, but closed in 1960, only to be reopened later as a Royal Mail and Parcel Force centre. It was closed in 1986, and has been more or less empty ever since.

“It really is a gem of a building,” continued Heather. “It is quite staggering in its scale and size, big enough to accommodate the football pitches of both Manchester City and Manchester United.

“The opportunity we have in terms of opening it up and creating a market is something very different.”

The depot is 170,000sq ft, but the plan could be to double that with a mezzanine floor. “The scale is quite monumental,” said Heather.

“We want to create something that IS Manchester and has its values. It is something of a privilege to be given 24 acres to try to develop and create the next big thing in Manchester.

“The process we are going through at the moment is very much thinking about what Mayfield could become. We’re thinking about what the office and the residential offers are going to be.

“We are now in a listening mode, talking to many people and trying to get a feel for what Mayfield will be.”