Public exhibition held at Great Northern Warehouse to showcase plans drawn up by Manchester-based architects SimpsonHaugh and landscape specialists Planit-IE to create a new urban quarter that reflects Manchester’s status as a truly global city

Plans for the transformation of the Great Northern Warehouse and Square have gone on show in Manchester today at a public exhibition organised by the partnership that owns the site, Trilogy Real Estate and Peterson Group. The Exhibition will give the public the opportunity to view the plans and comment ahead of a planning application later in the year.

The plans have been drawn up by a team of consultants that includes masterplanner Will Alsop’s aLL Design, architect SimpsonHaugh, Altrincham-based landscape specialists Planit-IE and interior architect Johnson Naylor.

Since acquiring the Great Northern in 2013, Trilogy Real Estate and Peterson Group have developing proposals to bring back to life what is a strategically important and historically significant site.

Robert Wolstenholme of Trilogy Real Estate said:

“The Great Northern should represent the best of the North. It offers one of the most significant regeneration opportunities in Manchester city centre. Our vision is to create a new urban quarter that reflects Manchester’s standing as a truly global city, celebrating our built heritage and fulfilling the site’s potential as a destination for the culture, business and everyday life of Manchester.”

At the heart of the proposal, Great Northern Square has been reimagined to create a public space the city can be proud of. This new urban oasis has been designed to boost local biodiversity, provide a place for families to play and for local residents and workers to relax. The existing amphitheatre will be covered over, with a lawn placed on top and broad-leaved trees planted to make the square more attractive and easier to navigate for those passing through.

Across the site, public space will be increased by 27%, from 6,162 sq m to 7847 sq m. The designers have placed pedestrian access at the top of their priorities, proposing new high quality, legible and accessible pedestrian routes across the site, lined with front doors, shops and cafes to provide an active, welcoming environment.

Dean Street, a new pedestrian street, will run parallel to Deansgate, providing retail units ideally suited for independent retailers, cafés restaurants and bars.

Public realm in the site’s own “highline” on top of the former railway lines will be activated by relocating the entrance to the existing cinema alongside proposed gym and restaurant entrances.

Built by Great Northern Railway between 1896 -1899, the Grade II* listed Great Northern Warehouse is visually striking evidence of Manchester’s industrial past. The original glazed brick lettering along the upper level of all four elevations of the warehouse is a local landmark that can be seen across the city.

Trilogy and Peterson sees the current use of the Great Northern Warehouse as a car park as completely at odds with the quality and heritage value of the building. The designs propose to revive the Great Northern Warehouse by converting the upper two storeys to high quality residential accommodation, stripping away modern accretions like the parking ramps to reveal its historic character and conserve its heritage. Up to 100 warehouse-style apartments will be provided in the first phase.

Nick Owen, Partner at SimpsonHaugh said:

“The emerging design proposals are shaped by the key principles of respecting and celebrating the site’s heritage assets and transforming the existing public realm. By stripping back the obtrusive modern additions and sensitively repairing and enhancing the original fabric, we aim to reveal this great building for the public to enjoy.”

A planning submission for this first phase of the redevelopment of Great Northern, is expected to be submitted in September 2017. Further phases of the £300m transformation are currently in the early staged of consultation, with plans to deliver the project over the next ten years.