Manchester City Council, in partnership with Abu Dhabi United Group, is set to acquire the 10-acre Central Retail Park from TH Real Estate, paving the way for a new wave of residential development under the Manchester Life mantle.
Central Retail Park is on Great Ancoats Street, a prime location at the edge of the Northern Quarter, near to New Islington. It has operated as a retail destination since the 1980s, but has suffered from a drop in footfall in recent years.
Due to its strategic location, Manchester City Council has been eying the site as suitable for residential development for a number of years.
Now, in a report to its executive committee on Wednesday 13 September, the council has asked for permission to buy the park from TH Real Estate. It would then put in place a new development framework and commercial plan, in partnership with Abu Dhabi United Group, delivering homes and mixed uses.
The council and Abu Dhabi are already in a longstanding joint venture, Manchester Life, bringing forward a series of residential developments as part of the regeneration of Ancoats and New Islington. Abu Dhabi is also the owner of Manchester City FC.
TH Real Estate was granted planning permission in 2013 for a £40m scheme which included a 90,000 sq ft supermarket, cinema and smaller retail units with undercroft parking. Work on the project never began.
Then in 2016, TH proposed a refurbished offer “to bring the site up to modern standards”, and release half of the site for residential development and other uses, although no further action was taken.
According to the report, the park “has seen a notable decline in recent years. This decline has been made all the more visible by the ongoing regeneration of this part of the city.”
While there was no detail on purchase price, or the number of units proposed on the site, previously the park has been valued at around £25m, and its size has been estimated to potentially support up to 1,500 homes if built in high density.
The report concludes that “the acquisition of the Central Retail Park site will help support and influence the continued regeneration of Ancoats and New Islington into a thriving mixed-use neighbourhood that offers a range of good quality homes in a variety of types and tenures along with creating opportunities for new commercial development and corresponding jobs in the area.”
The council owns the freehold of the site, and TH will surrender the leasehold.