Manchester named top place to visit in 2017 by San Francisco Chronicle

The huge gallery and drama space – which will be built on the old Granada site – is said to be a ‘complete game-changer’ for the national arts scene

Plans for Manchester’s £110m new Factory arts centre are set for the green light next week.
The huge performance and exhibition space, billed as the city’s answer to the Guggenheim, would be developed on the former Granada Studios site near Castlefield .

Construction of the 7,300-capacity centre – on Water Street – would see the existing Starlight Theatre demolished and the listed colonnade viaduct, which sits beneath it, restored.

Various other parts of the former Granada site, including a vacant casino and gatehouse, would also be knocked down.
Council bosses – who received a £79m grant from George Osborne for the project in 2015 and say it will be a ‘complete game-changer’ for the national arts scene – have earmarked it as the future home of Manchester International Festival.

It would include both a theatre and a ‘warehouse’ that could be used flexibly for arts exhibitions, trade fairs, theatre, dance and music performance.

Split into two parts, the 5,000-capacity warehouse element is seen as the main space – intended for standing events such as gigs – that could also be divided up into smaller parts using movable partitions.

Part of the warehouse would be built over the top of the railway arches.

The 2,300-capacity theatre is seen as a more traditional venue, but its layout could still be changed to accommodate different types of performance.

According to the planning report the huge application has been well received – including from Historic England and the next door Museum of Science and Industry – with no objections received from neighbours. However one city centre councillor, Joan Davies opposes plans for a coach pick-up and drop-off on Liverpool Road – arguing it should be contained on the site itself.

The flagship centre, designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, is intended to open in early 2020 as the first venue of its kind in the country. It was originally intended to launch in summer 2019 – intended for that year’s Manchester International Festival – but the schedule has since slipped.

Officers are recommending the application for approval on Thursday.

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