Property round-up: Castlefield Recruitment; Atelier MB; AFS Global; Parkdale; DV8 Designs; Footasylum

Andy Burnham signs in at Castlefield Recruitment

Castlefield Recruitment has expanded its presence and opened a new Manchester headquarters on the top floor of Afflecks Palace.

The 9,000 sq ft fourth floor of the building was previously used for storage but has been redesigned to create an exceptional office space with Blok Projects undertaking the fit-out works. Axi Studio was the appointed interior designer.

Castlefield has agreed a 10 year lease with Afflecks Palace’s owners, Bruntwood, for an undisclosed rent.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, officially opened the new office in a unique style, signing the wall under a Stanley Chow portrait of himself.

The recruitment company, now employing more than 50 people, has plans for significant further growth in the coming years. Nick Ogden, one of the founding directors of Castlefield Recruitment, said: “As a thriving Manchester-born business, this is a huge chapter for us and we are so excited that our new headquarters is in one of the city’s most prolific buildings, which embodies the Mancunian spirit that echoes the ethos of our company.”

Andy Burnham, said: “Afflecks is one of Manchester’s most iconic buildings, so to see it being used in a new way, with the support of the building’s owners and existing tenants, is fantastic. Increasingly people don’t feel the need to leave Greater Manchester to progress their career, and by attracting more talent to the city region, we can ensure businesses like Castlefield Recruitment can continue to grow.”

AJ Martyn, general manager of Afflecks, said: “The workspace on the fourth floor is an exciting new chapter for Afflecks. We have always been known as a haven for creativity and a safe space for all and this will continue as we further invest in our building to ensure it’s open for generations to come.”


St Margaret’s Chambers

Atelier MB has gained planning and Listed building consent from Manchester City Council for the conversion of the upper floors of St Margaret’s Chambers, 5 Newton Street into 12 new homes.

Built circa 1890 and attributed to prolific Mancunian architect Charle Henry Heathcote, St Margaret’s Chambers is Grade II-listed and was originally the Manchester office for the West India and Pacific Company. In more recent times it was home to a language school which vacated the premises in 2020.

Submitted on behalf of the building owner, Charlotte Street Estates, the proposals for St Margaret’s Chambers will create four one-bedroom apartments: five two-bedroom apartments and three three-bedroom apartments across the four upper levels of the building.

Many of the original fixtures and fittings of the building will be retained and refurbished including the terrazzo floor in the entrance foyer, fire places, original doors and decorated cornices. The distinctive bay windows will be refurbished and sash windows restored – with secondary glazing for improved comfort.

The red brick and stone facade will be restored and repaired and parking for bicycles will be provided in the basement.

Andrew Burns, director, Atelier MB said: “Originally St Margaret’s Chambers was built as offices partitioned off a central corridor. Today, that original layout now lends itself more easily to apartments and our proposals celebrate the building’s heritage, retaining and restoring many of the original features to create characterful new homes.

“St Margarets Chambers is a beautiful building and an important part of Manchester’s heritage. We are pleased to be working closely with our clients Charlotte Street Estates, to breathe new life into it and secure its future.”

Atelier MB is working with M&E consultants Clancy Consulting and environmental specialists Element Sustainability on the project. To accompany the planning application, a detailed heritage report was compiled by Atelier Heritage.

Headed by Laura Jessup, Atelier Heritage is part of Atelier MB and provides comprehensive and independent assessments of existing buildings. Atelier MB is a Manchester-based architecture practice which has been working on sites across Manchester since 1980.


Chris Higgins

Global freight forwarder, AFS Global, has relocated to a new 1,300 sq ft office within the Manchester International Office Centre, a key logistics hub next to Manchester Airport.

Despite the turbulence within the logistics sector in recent times, the company has taken on a string of new clients and increased its headcount by 30% in the past year. It has also strengthened its senior leadership team, with the appointment of Chris Higgins as commercial director.

The office move will allow AFS to accelerate its growth and help customers take advantage of new opportunities as the logistics industry shows more signs of stability moving into 2024. Chris Higgins said: “The last few years have been incredibly challenging for our industry for many reasons. It’s been a testing time but our business model, which combines automation with a premium customer service, has proved very resilient. This has given us the confidence to reinvest and plan for further growth.”



A period building which was formerly the headquarters of the Vegetarian Society is to be converted back into a home following the completion of its sale.

The 10,000 sq ft building, known as Parkdale, in Altrincham, was home to the Vegetarian Society since 1969 when the Manchester and London Societies unified. The intention to sell Parkdale had been discussed for several years, as CEO Richard McIlwain explains: “Parkdale has served the Society well for over 50 years, with many events and functions held in the grounds.

“However, times change and like many organisations, many of our staff now work flexibly from home. We have taken the opportunity to locate back into central Manchester at a smaller site, handy for public transport and capable of also hosting our brand new teaching kitchen, which we’re very excited to be launching in the New Year.”

Parkdale is set within grounds of approximately 1.41 acres and comprises a period, two-storey building dating back to c. 1870 set within mature gardens.

While the property has been utilised for office space as the home to the Vegetarian Society, many of the original period features remain, including original fireplaces, architraves and window details.

Ned Brooks, an associate director in the development team at Savills in Manchester, said: “We are really pleased to have completed this sale on behalf of the Vegetarian Society to facilitate their relocation to Manchester city centre. Parkdale’s prime location in Altrincham and the fact that the building lends itself well to a single or multi-unit conversion meant that we had interest from a number of potential buyers.”

Mills and Reeve Solicitors acted on behalf of the Vegetarian Society on the sale.


Illustration of advice centre interior

North West based concept design specialist, DV8 Designs, has been appointed to work alongside Triangle Architects with Rochdale Borough Council to consult on, and design, a new customer advice centre.
The multi-use advice centre will be a one stop shop for residents of the borough, primarily owner-occupiers and people in the private rented sector, to access housing support initiatives and advice. The inclusive facility offering additional amenities including accessible meeting spaces, flexible-use private booths and an interactive children’s play area to create a welcoming and safe environment for families.

Drawing on the proven benefits of biophilia, pockets of greenery and moss have been utilised both to improve cognitive function, enhance creativity, and to evoke a sense of calm and serenity for the people using the space.

With heavy footfall expected in the building, fabrics and finishes have been designed to create warmth, but allow for durability, such as vinyls and fabrics with anti-microbial properties, high abrasion and stain resistant properties which future-proof the space without feeling clinical.

Cllr Danny Meredith, cabinet member for regeneration and housing at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “We will be opening this new facility in the autumn and look forward to welcoming residents into this high quality space and working with them to solve their problems.”


Lakeside Footaslyum store

Rochdale-based fashion and sportswear retailer, Footasylum, is to open a new store in Lakeside Shopping Centre, Essex.

The store represents a first-of-its-kind concept development for Footasylum and has an improved look and feel. There has been a significant investment in the store’s digital capabilities to create a seamless mobile-first customer journey. After a successful trial in smaller stores earlier this year, click-and-collect lockers have also been installed in the new-look store.

The store is spread across 10,000 sq ft and will be led by the company’s unique footwear and men’s apparel offering. However, in response to a notable increase in demand, additional space has also been allocated to the company’s womenswear apparel offering, which now features prominently within the store.

Footasylum previously occupied a smaller space at Lakeside, spread across less than 3,000 sq ft. In upsizing to the larger, more prominent premises, Footasylum has employed an additional 30 team members across a mixture of full and part time contracts, taking its total headcount at Lakeside to 70.

The Lakeside opening continues Footasylum’s ongoing store opening and upsizing programme. The company has announced a number of new store openings this year, the first of which was a 6,000 sq ft site in the Harlequin shopping centre in Watford, Hertfordshire, which will open in October.

Footasylum will also be opening its flagship store at 73-89 Oxford Street in London later this month. The new 20,000 sq ft store will trade across two floors, with additional customer service and click-and-collect lockers located in the store’s basement.

The company is also upsizing a number of its existing sites, including those in Westfield Stratford City – which has been completed – Birmingham Bullring, and Leeds White Rose.

The plans follow the opening of a new Footasylum store in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire in December 2022, which was the company’s first new opening since April 2021, and its first under the ownership of AURELIUS Group, which acquired Footasylum in August 2022.

Barry Bown, executive chairman and CEO of Footasylum, said: “We are on a mission to develop bigger and better stores in order to bring an even more immersive shopping experience to our loyal and growing customer base. Our new Lakeside store certainly delivers on that and, as our most technologically advanced store yet, it will seamlessly connect our online and in-store offerings.”

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