Wa­ter­front vision as coun­cil pushes the bound­aries

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - Jen­nifer.wil­liams@men-news.co.uk @JenWil­liamsMEN

MANCH­ESTER city cen­tre is set to march out­wards again – this time to­wards Cheetham Hill and Strange­ways, as the coun­cil seeks to open up the River Ir­well and trans­form the net­work of Vic­to­rian streets sur­round­ing the prison.

The town hall’s vision for land ei­ther side of Great Du­cie Street – likely to be signed off next week – could see a wave of apart­ments built at the cor­ner of Cheetham Hill Road, while the area around the night­club Hid­den would be turned into a new wa­ter­front com­mu­nity.

Mean­while the grid of streets to the south east of the prison could see new busi­ness premises built, with the town hall sug­gest­ing the area, cur­rently home to a scat­ter­ing of small whole­sale tex­tile firms, could other­wise fall into de­cline.

As the coun­cil looks to push the city cen­tre bound­aries out fur­ther, it sug­gests a hard line could be taken with prop­erty spec­u­la­tors, how­ever.

Its draft mas­ter­plan says any­one buy­ing up what may be com­par­a­tively cheap land around Strange­ways with a view to sit­ting on it should think again, warn­ing the coun­cil would look to com­pul­so­rily pur­chase any­thing left lan­guish­ing by peo­ple seek­ing to make an easy profit.

The coun­cil’s lat­est vision cov­ers a swathe of land from Trin­ity Way north­wards, up Great Du­cie Street, as far as Sher­borne Street West on one side and the prison on the other.

It also takes in streets to the west of Cheetham Hill Road up to Carnar­von Street, plus a wedge of land on the cor­ner op­po­site Manch­ester Arena – al­though the old Bod­ding­tons site, which has its own mas­ter­plan and is al­ready quite far into the plan­ning process, is not in­cluded.

The plan, drawn up by con­sul­tants Deloitte for the coun­cil, de­scribes Strange­ways as ‘one of the most prom­i­nent op­por­tu­ni­ties to sup­port the con­tin­ued ex­pan­sion of Manch­ester city cen­tre,’ not­ing that else­where it has al­ready moved out­wards into An­coats, New Is­ling­ton, An­gel Mead­ows and St Ge­orge’s in Castle­field.

It sug­gests land fronting onto the Ir­well around Mary Street could be re­de­vel­oped first, creat­ing a new wa­ter­front res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hood with walk­ways along the river.

The area cur­rently con­tains in­dus­trial units and a hand­ful of other venues such as the Faith Life Cen­tre and Down­tex Mill. The plan out­lines a po­ten­tial col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the coun­cil, the own­ers of the Whis­per­ing Smith whole­saler and the Faith Life Cen­tre, to bring for­ward new hous­ing fairly quickly, with taller build­ings of up to 30 storeys fronting onto the ring-road.

Down­tex Mill, which has be­come a thriving and eclec­tic arts venue con­tain­ing the club Hid­den, is not due to be de­mol­ished as part of the plan, it says.

An­other early phase of the rede- vel­op­ment would be around the Cheetham Hill ‘gate­way,’ the cor­ner op­po­site Manch­ester Arena that cur­rently con­tains sur­face car park­ing and the Steven Charles snooker hall.

The plan ear­marks that land for res­i­den­tial build­ings – with taller blocks fac­ing onto the main road – and com­mer­cial space at ground floor level.

Fur­ther away from the city cen­tre, the streets around Sher­borne Street to the west of the A56 and those im­me­di­ately to the south east of the prison are con­sid­ered to be longer term pro­jects, but the coun­cil be­lieves both could be re­de­vel­oped into space for cre­ative, dig­i­tal and other start-up com­pa­nies.

While there are tex­tiles firms still op­er­at­ing out of the streets, it says most are fur­ther north to­wards Cheetham Hill, ar­gu­ing the area im­me­di­ately south of the prison has lacked in­vest­ment and is at risk of slid­ing fur­ther.

Al­though ‘not in ma­jor de­cline,’

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