Waterfront vision as council pushes the boundaries
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,’