Plans for a £400m city centre regeneration scheme that will create more than 1,200 homes has been approved by Manchester City Council’s planning committee.
MCR Property Group’s bold Gasworks New Town project will create 1,202 homes on the site of the former Rochdale Road Gas Works at the heart of Manchester, with a mixture of attractive townhouses and apartments.
For years the 6.6-acre site has been home to a car park that added little to the public realm but that will all change over the next few years with the first residents expected to move in by the end of 2023.
Not only will the huge project drastically improve the supply of housing, this flagship development will create a new centre of gravity for central Manchester that will create thousands of jobs and inject tens of millions of pounds into the city’s economy.
MCR bought the site in 2015 with big plans to use it as the launchpad to rejuvenate the immediate area with a mixed-use destination development. The team, working with local stakeholders and the planning department, went through dozens of iterations to get the balance of housing provision, design and environmental amenities in perfect balance. It received approval by Manchester City Council’s Planning Committee on Thursday 3rd June 2021.
The project — which will have a Gross Development Value (GDV) of approximately £400m at current prices — will include 192m² of commercial space and its accommodation will be provided by nine separate buildings ranging from 8 to 34 storeys in height. The scheme will be built in four phases with construction set to begin this summer, while the tallest residential tower is expected to be completed by the end of 2030.
Architects, AHR, included 1,224 cycle spaces as part of a determined effort to encourage more people to walk and cycle, and help reduce the amount of traffic on local roads. Where there is underground parking, bays will have electric charging points for the next generation of environmentally friendly vehicles.
Plans include a public park between Gould Street and Bromley Street as well as a pedestrian route and cycle path running east-to-west through the site. It is the most carbon-efficient development of its kind that Manchester has ever seen and will save 300 tonnes of carbon a year, exceeding the council’s target for new developments by 30%.
The Gasworks New Town neighbourhood is one of seven envisioned by the £4bn Victoria North masterplan, formerly known as the Northern Gateway Strategic Regeneration Framework. This masterplan will see the entire area north of the city centre transformed over the next 20 years by the delivery of 15,000 new homes across 383 acres.
The Gasworks itself will act as a key anchor for this vision, being one of the first major developments to get planning permission and sitting so close to the city centre. It is a short walk away from The Northern Quarter, Ancoats and NOMA while Manchester Victoria Train Station is only minutes away.
A total of 85 affordable homes will be available through Shared Ownership — amongst the most provided by any city centre redevelopment site — and this number may increase during the fourth phase of the scheme.
MCR’s team of specialist consultants on the project included planning consultancy WSP, civil engineers BDP, architects AHR, landscape architects Planit-IE and highways consultancy Curtins. MCR also worked closely with international developer, Far East Consortium (FEC), which is jointly funding and developing the Victoria North masterplan alongside Manchester City Council.
Founded in Manchester in 1989, MCR Property Group has a national focus and has developed more than £5bn of residential, commercial and industrial property.
Nick Lake, Asset Manager for MCR Property Group, said:
“This is the jewel in the crown for MCR. We’re a Manchester-based business and this is an incredibly proud moment for the company.”
“We all felt a responsibility to create something spectacular on home turf and there is no doubt that the Gasworks will provide an aspirational and inspirational place to live and work.”
“We’re particularly proud of the project’s environmental credentials, claiming the crown for being the most carbon-efficient development of its type that Manchester has ever seen. This really is a scheme fit for the coming century, with electric charging points on every parking space and more than 1,000 cycle spaces making this one of the most bike and pedestrian friendly residential developments in the country.”
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, added:
“As one of the emerging neighbourhoods of Victoria North, New Town is aptly named. The Gasworks development will breathe life into a largely forgotten corner of the city centre fringe, bringing purpose and an energy to an area that is currently characterised by surface car parks.”
“Residential investment at this scale should be celebrated and will contribute significantly to meeting demand for high quality homes in this part of the city. And once again, developments such as this show a real confidence in Manchester as an attractive place to invest and do business – the importance of which cannot be underestimated as we look to economic recovery following the pandemic.”
Matthew Hard, Associate Director at planning consultancy WSP, commented:
“We’re delighted to reach the important milestone of having Manchester’s planning committee endorse the proposed redevelopment of the historic gasworks. Gasworks New Town will be a fantastic development in its own right, and act as a catalyst for further regeneration of the post-industrial Irk Valley.”
“With its carbon credentials, its green infrastructure and focus on walking and cycling, I’m confident that the neighbourhood will become a future exemplar of town planning.”
Dan Barnes, Regional Director at architects AHR, commented:
“AHR Architects are very pleased to have had the opportunity to lead the design team for this very exciting new development. The Gasworks will deliver a major new, vibrant and sustainable residential neighbourhood effectively extending the city centre and forming a significant part of Manchester’s Northern Gateway regeneration plans, delivering a range of high quality homes and generous new landscaped public realm.”
“The development breathes new life back into this former gasworks brownfield site, creating a unique series of pedestrian friendly public spaces that navigate the dramatic 14m change of level across the site while creating new connections to the surrounding streets, Angel Meadows and the River Irk.”
“Framing these spaces, we have designed a series of contemporary brick and low carbon impact residential buildings with active frontages and own-front-door townhouses, culminating in a 34 storey brick and corten steel tower adjacent to the viaduct, looking back towards the city and out across the Irk Valley.”