Go-ahead for transformation of town’s former department store

Plans for the former Rackhams site

The planning go-ahead has been given to transform the former Rackhams building in Altricham.

Following last night’s (January 20) planning meeting it means Trafford Council and Bruntwood Works will continue their regeneration of Stamford Quarter with a large-scale redevelopment of the former House of Fraser department store.

Renamed Foundation, the development will provide a leading blend of workspace, retail and leisure in the heart of the Stamford Quarter, acting as a cornerstone for the transformation of the town centre and creating a new gateway into Altrincham.

Proposals include 50,000 sq ft of commercial workspace and 25,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space on the ground and lower ground floors.

The joint venture project will result in the first regional Pioneer building and will bring a blend of workspace, retail and leisure to Altrincham. Bruntwood Works’ £100m Pioneer programme is designed to create forward thinking workspaces centred on six key pillars: Biophilia, art, sustainability, wellness, amenity and technology.

Finalised after consultation with residents and community groups, the development also supports Trafford Council’s work to bolster regeneration in the town, having invested heavily in a number of projects as well as improving the public realm.

Foundation has been designed to encourage more people into the heart of the town for a range of uses, creating a place where people can work, meet and socialise – helping to support the long term growth of the local economy.

The approved plans include a complete redesign of the ground floor, offering a unique experience, providing hospitality with a cafe, restaurant and retail that will spill out onto Stamford Square.

A focus on biophilia, which is known to improve wellbeing and sustainability, will also be introduced through a 340 sq m living wall in the central atrium and an external green wall, connecting people and nature and helping reduce noise levels as it wraps around, through and around the building. Other sustainability measures will also be taken including improving the existing insulation and airtightness and limiting the embodied carbon emissions during construction by retaining and reusing the existing structure.

A new two-storey extension will also be created, with an emphasis on creating an indoor-outdoor experience. This will incorporate new terraces on the first floor and a new solar panel system on the roof to help make Foundation a sustainable community.

A gym and wellness area, as well as extensive cycle storage and showers, have also been incorporated into the plans to encourage a cycling commute and promote wellbeing among customers.

It is envisaged that Stamford Square will become a focal point for Altrincham’s existing high street, aiming to better connect, and complement, the existing national brands and independent shops on George Street and Stamford New Road.

Increased engagement with the local community will be sought by blending the traditional prime high street with more independent businesses, hospitality and workspace. At Foundation there will be multiple spaces available to retail and hospitality operators within the building and leading out onto the new terraces and Stamford Square.

There is also an events programme planned for the square, to encourage active community engagement and create a place for people to meet and dwell.

The building’s proximity to Altrincham Interchange also provides excellent tram, train and bus links, meaning the new space will deliver a well connected alternative to those businesses who still want easy access to the city centre, while improved lift and ramp access will be introduced for better accessibility.

Cllr Andrew Western, leader of Trafford Council, said: “Trafford Council has carried out a huge amount of work in Altrincham and we are very proud of what we have achieved. The council has been at the forefront of the regeneration of the town centre in recent years, including our work on the successful Market Quarter, public realm works and Altrincham Business Improvement District.

“The Rackhams building is close to the hearts of people who live in Altrincham and, following close consultation with residents, we will redevelop it to meet the needs of a modern town centre with a mix of workspace, retail and leisure. This project will help Altrincham become an even more successful town centre and I for one will be delighted to see it take shape.”

Andrea George, town centre and consumer brands director at Bruntwood Works, said: “Altrincham is already a town centre success story, bucking the story of decline that has defined so many of its peers around the country.

“The pandemic’s lasting impact on where people want to spend more time to work, shop and play locally means there is an opportunity to deepen and strengthen its offering. That’s what Foundation will do.”

She added: “It will give Altrincham all the ingredients that the high streets of tomorrow need. By blending premium workspaces, retail and leisure, we’re providing a new and much needed amenity that complements the existing operators within Stamford Quarter and the wider town centre.”

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