New city centre campus a step closer as partner lined up to develop Central Retail Park

  • Friday 12 January 2024

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An artist's illustration of what the Central Retail Park will look like.

The Council is in late-stage negotiations to begin the redevelopment of part of the former retail park by the Government Property Agency (GPA) to develop a new low carbon office destination.

The Council agreed an updated Strategic Regeneration Framework (SRF) for the land in March 2023 setting out the high-level principles for development at the site, including low carbon, commercial office space and high-quality green space that will support continued economic growth and accommodate 7,000 new and existing civil service roles.   

The GPA has been exploring options in Manchester and the North West to meet the needs of civil servants as part of the Government’s commitment to locate more services outside of London and support the Levelling Up agenda.  

The initial development proposals by GPA would look to create a new digital campus and office space, with the first planning application expected later this summer – supporting the need for new office amenity in this part of Manchester's city centre.  

In turn, the remainder of the programme of regeneration will deliver significant new green space to the site, opening access to Cotton Field Park beyond for the first time from Great Ancoats Street.  

The site will also support new walking and cycling routes, linking other active travel routes through Ancoats and the Northern Quarter to better connect the city centre.  

Further detail about the delivery of the new green space and later phases of the development programme will be made available later this year.  

Redevelopment of the former retail park also complements the ongoing long-term regeneration of the wider area, including a £30m public realm investment project in Ancoats, the nearby Electric Park development, and new affordable housing built by the Council’s housing company This City in Ancoats - alongside further affordable homes at Downley Drive and the former Ancoats Dispensary by Great Places.  


Leader of the Council, Cllr Bev Craig said: 

“We have big ambitions for this site, and it has the potential to accommodate thousands of jobs, create a new green public space and gateway through to Cotton Field Park for the first time, while developing highly sustainable office space – and in time create an ecosystem that will support new businesses to grow in the future.  

“This is great news for Manchester, and we are working closely with the GPA to bring these proposals forward. In them we have found a development partner that shares our vision for the site, which supports the continued growth of Manchester through sustainable, high-quality development. 

“It is very welcome that we can finally bring this long-term brownfield piece of land back into active use and marks the beginning of the end for the 20year regeneration story that has transformed this corner of our city centre.” 

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