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Manchester to consult on £1bn 'St. John's Quarter' redevelopment

Manchester City Council is set to open a public consultation on the proposed £1 billion regeneration of land surrounding the former Granada television studios in Manchester city centre, after the Council's executive resolved to endorse a strategic regeneration framework (SRF) for the scheme.

Manchester Quays Limited (MQL), a joint venture between the Council and developer Allied London, bought 13 acres of land to the south west of Manchester city centre from television company ITV last year. According to a report produced for a meeting of the Council's executive yesterday, MQL's draft SRF proposes the redevelopment of the area, which will be known as the 'St. John's Quarter', into a two-tier, mixed-use scheme with a total floorspace of 4 million square feet.

The lower tier of development will form a "low-rise, intimate, mixed use 'Village'" with offices, studios, retail and leisure facilities on the lower floors and "a roofscape of residential uses and terraced gardens", the report said. The office space within the 'Village' will be aimed at media, creative industries, and technology media and communications companies.

The upper tier of development, described as the 'Sky', will comprise "a series of elegant residential towers that 'float' above the 'Village'" under the SRF, with the tallest buildings being constructed towards the River Irwell to the west of the site. The SRF proposes up to 3,000 new homes, with "a variety of townhouses, penthouse apartments, live-work units and high-rise living", the report said, adding that there was potential for 500 of the homes to be brought forward as a private rented community.

Up to 600,000 sq ft of office space is proposed, including 80,000 sq ft within the existing Victorian Bonded Warehouse building. Other heritage features on the site, will also be retained for re-use under the plans, which propose allowing public access to the private Granada Gardens and the retention of the Accumulator Tower as a landmark feature. Up to 400,000 sq ft of leisure floorspace, up to three buildings dedicated to arts and culture, and two new hotels - one a "corporate four star offer" and the other a new "event hotel" – are also proposed.

Allied London announced earlier this month that it had commissioned architects Levitt Bernstein to bring forward plans to transform the former Granada television headquarters into the "event hotel" proposed in the draft SRF. The building's facade would be preserved under the proposals and the hotel, to be known as the Manchester Grande, would feature live cultural performances for hotel guests within the existing studios and performance spaces.

"With the development of St. John's, we're creating a new neighbourhood in the heart of Manchester," said Allied London chief executive officer Michal Ingall in a statement. "A place that distinguishes itself by its cultural history, diverse mix of inhabitants, rich context and its position at the crossroads of Manchester's network. The Manchester Grande event hotel fits perfectly with this vision."

The Council's executive resolved to endorse the SRF in principle and to request that the Council's chief executive "undertake a public consultation exercise on the [SRF] with local residents and businesses".

The report said that redevelopment of the site was expected to take place "over the next ten years".

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