Plans go in for Great Northern Warehouse redevelopment

Redevelopment plans

Developers have submitted plans for the redevelopment of the six-acre Great Northern Warehouse complex on Deansgate to Manchester City Council.

The proposals will be reviewed by the council with a target committee date in early 2023.

Peterson Group and Trilogy Real Estate, have submitted their plans for the Grade II-listed Victorian Warehouse building which sits at the heart of the proposals and will be given new life as office space to secure its long term future. The 1990’s cinema and car park building behind will be repurposed to create 746 apartments above reimagined pedestrianised retail streets.

Working with an award-winning design team, including architectural practice SimpsonHaugh and landscape architect Planit-IE, the redevelopment of the Great Northern will deliver a new heritage-led neighbourhood for Manchester, with an emphasis on a carefully curated mix of uses which will include office, leisure, retail and residential uses, alongside high quality green spaces, and better public access and connections to the wider city centre.

Manchester City Council’s 2017 Strategic Regeneration Framework (SRF), updated in 2019, laid out ambitions for this key city centre site to establish it as a ‘cultural, business and residential’ destination through improvements in its pedestrian connections to the rest of the city, the removal of the unsightly 1990s additions of car park ramps and the ‘Leisure Box’ which houses the cinema, carpark and gym.

The SRF made provisions for residential buildings, of scale and density, to be added to the south of the site.

The submission comes after an extended programme of public and stakeholder consultation, commenced in 2017. Feedback from the consultations has seen the plans evolve to create more distinct “character spaces” across the site, and enhanced greening and play provision in Great Northern Square.

The proposed scheme includes:

  • Repurposing of the historic Warehouse’s upper floors into 120,000-sq ft of high quality, amenity rich and sustainably designed office space that respects and upgrades the existing heritage architecture
  • A redesign of the public square in front of the warehouse creating a biodiverse oasis for the city with spaces for residents, visitors and families to enjoy, relax and play
  • Retention, refurbishment and access improvements to Deansgate Mews, with space for local independent businesses to flourish and new facilities for community use
  • Refurbishment of the Deansgate Terrace, to provide 30,000 sq ft of offices on the upper floors, specifically targeting small to medium-sized businesses, above commercial, retail and leisure
  • Opening new pedestrian routes through the site, improving connectivity to the wider city centre, and creating more spaces for animation and greenery
  • Removal of the 1990s ‘Leisure Box’ extension on the southern half of the site – currently home to the Odeon cinema, NCP carpark and gym – with the adaptive re-use of the existing multi-storey car park to minimise embodied carbon in construction and reduce car parking numbers from 1,240 to 929 spaces
  • Provision of 746 apartments across two taller buildings and a lower scale podium building, each with shared amenity space, outside terraces and access to green space

The plans have been developed to provide additional public realm by introducing new pedestrian routes through the site via a new connection between Deansgate and Watson Street, to be named Alport Street in recognition of the Alport Town district historically located on the site.

A redesign of the public-facing square in front of the warehouse will improve access to biodiverse green space for the local community. Ongoing improvement works currently taking place at the neighbouring Deansgate/Castlefield Metrolink entrance will increase footfall to the complex and its businesses along a newly activated Watson Street.

Since 2015, Trilogy has improved the leisure and hospitality offer at the Great Northern to provide business and community opportunities with restaurants and entertainment venues, independent coffee shops, a bakery and family play facilities.

In the past year, Trilogy has further revitalised the complex with investment in Deansgate Mews, the community library (the Book Nook), a free indoor play facility (Little Northerners) and a Village Hall. These facilities have encouraged new community uses on the site and have supported the growth of independent businesses.

Celebrating the site’s past and future, plans are in place to commemorate the Masque of Anarchy poem – written by Percy Bysshe Shelley following the nearby Peterloo Massacre – on the wall of Deansgate Terrace that welcomes visitors to the new development.

Robert Wolstenholme, founder & CEO of Trilogy Real Estate, said: “Alongside our partners at Peterson, Trilogy put community, sustainability and local business at the heart of our schemes. We have already been delivering on this agenda at the Great Northern.

“Following positive community feedback, we are excited to have submitted plans that will create a green and flourishing mixed-use neighbourhood that remains authentic to its roots. We believe that this approach will provide a key differentiator as we continue to build a thriving working and residential community.”

Nick Owen, partner at SimpsonHaugh, said: “Our vision for the Great Northern is to create a thriving and sustainable new mixed-use city neighbourhood. At the heart of the proposals is the sensitive refurbishment and celebration of the site’s unique built heritage, the transformation and enhancement of the public realm, and the careful reconnection of the buildings and spaces to their surroundings. Our aim is to create a place for everyone to enjoy.”

Lindsay Humblet, director of landscape architecture at Planit, said: “Planit is committed to delivering new and improved public and residential green streets and spaces and our plans for Great Northern are a standout example of how landscape architecture will enrich the neighbourhood and its emerging community.

“Through extensive public consultation, the character of each of the spaces has been developed to reflect its context, function and users, delivering a unique sense of place that will be Mancunian to its core”.

Alistair Lambert, MEP and sustainability lead at WSP, said: “Delivering sustainable, high quality environments for working and living is paramount and minimising energy consumption and carbon emissions over the lifecycle of the development has been a key driver.

“This commitment to sustainability runs throughout the design and is demonstrated by the accreditations which are being targeted across the scheme to achieve the highest standards of BREEAM and WELL ratings. This is a testament to the work of our project team that excel in their field to provide best in class spaces.”