Great Northern Warehouse revamp to see cinema scrapped, 746 apartments built and public square redesigned

The plans which have been submitted to Manchester City Council include hundreds of new apartments, offices and spaces for commercial use and changes to the upper floors of a well-known city centre building.

Ambitious plans for the redevelopment of a six-acre Manchester city centre site which includes a well-known historic building have been submitted to the council.

Proposals for changes to the Great Northern site, which includes the Great Northern Warehouse, include creating hundreds of new apartments, offices and commercial space and building new pedestrian and cycle routes through the site.

It is hoped that the development work will protect the heritage aspect of the site as well as help to ensure a viable long-term future for the Great Northern Warehouse, which is currently a leisure complex. Consultation work on the scheme has been going on since 2017 but the project has now taken a significant step forward with the submission of a planning application to the town hall.

What is being proposed for Great Northern?

The proposed Great Northern scheme which has been sent to Manchester City Council includes:

  • Changing the Great Northern Warehouse’s upper floors into 120,000-sq-ft of office space, which it is hoped will secure the future of the former railway goods storage facility,
  • Redesigning of the public square in front of the Warehouse,
  • Retaining, refurbishing and improving the access to Deansgate Mews, which will also have space for local independent businesses and new facilities for community use,
  • Refurbishing Deansgate Terrace to provide 30,000-sq-ft of offices on the upper floors, specifically targeting small to medium-sized businesses, with commercial, retail and leisure businesses on the lower floors,
  • Opening new pedestrian routes through the site, including a new connection between Deansgate and Watson Street to be named Alport Street in recognition of the Alport Town district historically located on the site,
  • Changing the use of the 1990s ‘Leisure Box’ extension on the southern half of the site which is currently home to the Odeon cinema, an NCP carpark and a gym. The scheme calls for 746 apartments across two taller buildings and a smaller one on the site, with each of them having shared amenity space, outside terraces and access to green space. The ground floor of this will have “pedestrianised retail streets”, the developers say.
Plans for the redevelopment of the Great Northern site have been submitted to Manchester City Council. Photo: SimpsonHaugh

Peterson Group and Trilogy Real Estate (Trilogy) have been working on the design with a team including architectural practice SimpsonHaugh and landscape architect Planit-IE on the Great Northern plan. There are also plans to commemorate the Masque of Anarchy poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, which was written following the nearby Peterloo Massacre, on the wall of Deansgate Terrace that welcomes visitors to the new development.

The developers say they have been working with the council’s strategic aims in mind of improving pedestrian access between Great Northern and the rest of the city, getting rid of unattractive 1990s features such as the car park ramps and the so-called Leisure Box. In addition, the developers say they have been shaping the plans with green and sustainable principles at the forefront.

Businesses which have moved into the area in recent years include restaurants and entertainment venues, independent coffee shops, a bakery and family play facilities. Deansgate Mews already has a community library called the Book Nook, a free indoor play facilities called Little Northerners and a village hall for community use.

It is hoped that the plans will go before the planning committee in early 2023.

What has been said about Great Northern?

Robert Wolstenholme, founder and CEO of Trilogy Real Estate, said: “Alongside our partners at Peterson, Trilogy put community, sustainability and local business at the heart of our schemes. We have already been delivering on this agenda at the Great Northern.

“Following positive community feedback, we are excited to have submitted plans that will create a green and flourishing mixed-use neighbourhood that remains authentic to its roots. We believe that this approach will provide a key differentiator as we continue to build a thriving working and residential community.”

How part of the Great Northern site could look after its revamp if plans for it are approved. Photo: SimpsonHaugh

Nick Owen, partner at SimpsonHaugh, said: “Our vision for the Great Northern is to create a thriving and sustainable new mixed-use city neighbourhood. At the heart of the proposals is the sensitive refurbishment and celebration of the site’s unique built heritage, the transformation and enhancement of the public realm, and the careful reconnection of the buildings and spaces to their surroundings. Our aim is to create a place for everyone to enjoy.”