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City Centre Granada Site: The Way Forward?

Jonathan Schofield and the hybrid company looking to renew 13.25 acres

Written by . Published on October 28th 2013.

City Centre Granada Site: The Way Forward?

AS many people with an eye to property will know we have a new ‘development partnership’ in the city: MQL (Manchester Quays Limited).

We will seek to protect the heritage assets and ensure this whole area is developed in a holistic and sensitive way. At the heart of our plans is the intention to create a new sense of place and community.

This is a partnership between Allied London and Manchester City Council – a classic public private partnership. The pair has signed a deal conditional on planning consent to purchase ITV’s 13.5 acre Quay Street complex in Manchester City Centre for £26.5m.

For those of a historical bent the name gives a cute nod to the Old Quay Company on the same site from 1735.

The idea is to redevelop the area into a mixed-use destination within the next two years. Of course with a city centre scheme anything else but a mixed-use role would be illogical.

Granada Land


Granada site (right middle distance) from on high in Beetham Tower 

Planning permission for the changes will be set in motion once the remaining ITV staff and Coronation Street Production team move to their rapidly finishing new home at Media City some time next year.

But get that time frame.

MQL want to redevelop the 13.5 acres ‘within the next two years’. Wow. Two years. Speedy. 

Michael Ingall, Chief Executive at Allied London, said: “We have considered the future of the ITV estate on several occasions and our long standing relationship with ITV has enabled us to acquire what we believe to be an exceptional real estate opportunity. We have taken control of over 800,000 sq ft of existing mixed use real estate with various options for future occupation. The estate extends to some 13.5 acres and has development potential of in excess of 3m sq ft., which we intend to bring forward in partnership with Manchester City Council.

“Our vision is to promote the creation of a completely new mixed-use quarter for Manchester city centre at the River Irwell, bounded by Quay Street and Liverpool Road, and produce a masterplan that integrates the established areas within the site with proposed new development.

"This area of the city is rich in heritage, history and character, and we intend to make sure this makes a valuable contribution to our thinking on design and development. We will seek to protect the heritage assets and ensure this whole area is developed in a holistic and sensitive way. At the heart of our plans is the intention to create a new sense of place and community.”

Corrie set for a another disaster in town

Corrie set for a another disaster

Nice words but what Ingall doesn’t refer to directly is the Coronation Street set – the retention of which caused debate on Confidential a couple of years ago, here, although listing was subsequenty refused by English Heritage. We think the set should be retained in the city centre as a tourist attraction. Manchester's role in popular television since World War II is after all unrivalled. 

The press release about the development does have some information though.

‘Coronation Street continues to film at the Quay Street site and will move to its new MediaCityUK set and production base at a date to be agreed. Construction on the new 7.7 acre Coronation Street site at MediaCityUK is expected to continue until the end of 2013. The parties will explore options for various temporary uses of the Quay Street site during the public consultation period.’

Temporary uses.

This doesn’t sound too good for that venerable TV set in the city centre, the set which David Jones of Cavern City Tours in Liverpool in our original article said this about: "There'd be no excuse not to keep it. It's there already. Nothing has to be re-built as it had to with the Cavern. This isn't the sixties or the seventies, there is a huge tourist infrastructure in Manchester today. The Corrie set could bring in thousands of visitors. It would be a sin to get rid of it, inexplicable. You couldn't make an excuse for losing that revenue now and getting rid of it."

Confidential as stated above agrees. But will the property lords see it the same way? Will the axe fall on Coronation Street?

From the subtle undertones in the press statements you have to think that is exactly what will happen. 

We asked a question....

So what are the exact terms of the deal between Allied London and the City Council, how is the money split?

The Council reply was: 'The exact terms of the deal are subject to commercial confidentiality so there's very little we are in a position to say. We have not committed any capital to the deal, we have contributed land we own at Albert's Shed, the gateway to this strategic site, and a small triangle of land near the ITV building (which is known as the Globe and Simpson site) to enable MQL to bring forward a more comprehensive development.'

This Albert's Shed is not the same one as the pub in Castlefield by the way, but the one on the River Irwell in Granada land. 

The reply went on to quote Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council. He said: "Being part of MQL gives us the influence to be satisfied that we can help deliver a comprehensive scheme which will deliver significant value to the city." 

Albert Shed Site Is On The Other Side Hotel Walkway Here           Albert Shed site is on the right, the dark building, after the Marriott hotel walkway

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield or connect via Google+

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39 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousOctober 28th 2013.

Unless MCC paid magic beans for the various land holdings they're rolling into the deal (which I know they didn't) then they are putting capital into the deal. Whatever it cost the Council to acquire the 'gateway' to this 'strategic site'. Also interesting they will get a planning consent and begin work within two years. I've been battling to get a planning consent for family housing on a disused brownfield site (that sits within an existing residential estate) for well over that timeframe, unsuccessfully. I can only conclude that this is because Manchester don't want disused brownfield land remediation or suburban family housing (maybe there is an over-supply or something, a new-homes boom you might say? Oh no, wait...) but as they do want a new mixed-use city centre Spinningfields mark 2, planning will be a breeze it seems.

Lesley HampsonOctober 28th 2013.

With some imagination the "venerable TV Set" of Coronation St could earn money for the city and become a destination for fans just as other TV sets are worldwide. Don't let this become a missed opportunity. It could be a great attraction in the city centre with visitors spending money elsewhere. It is of cultural historic interest. It's surely a " no brainier".

1 Response: Reply To This...
Amanda EveryOctober 29th 2013.

Hear, Hear, Les...x

Andy4152October 28th 2013.

If they do demolish the Coronation Street set then it is a crime. Having worked there for many years this is a perfect opportunity to share with the public what is truly a national treasure. The cobbles are famous the world over and would be a fantastic addition to the city's wonderful tourist attractions. Sadly, i fear the worst.

jonnygforceOctober 28th 2013.

Keep the Corrie set, that is all.

David BishopOctober 28th 2013.

No idea why they closed the Granada Studios tour in the first place? Used to love going as a kid. They really should have been able to make decent revenues from this.

AnonymousOctober 28th 2013.

It has not had people clambering at the gates to be shown round I think and I see no reason why it should not go to Media City as part of ITV at Media City cultural site. After all Peel want to get into the popular culture business. and as Jon says the Quays are a wonderful sight.

naomi106October 28th 2013.

The Coronation Street set should absolutely stay and should extend as an interactive Manchester experience. The Real Rovers Return would be great...I'd go and I don't even watch Corrie!! I'd also pop into the Kabin for a paper when passing! KEEP THE CORRIE SET!!

AnonymousOctober 28th 2013.

The site will be Spinningfields with added 'Heritage' but no Corrie

Kevin PeelOctober 28th 2013.

City centre councillors have supported the call by ManCon and others to retain the Corrie set as a tourist attraction since the beginning and we'll continue to do so. We're also very keen to see the new mixed use development incorporate high quality green space (including retaining the beautiful Granada garden and integrating it into St. John's Gardens), with family friendly infrastructure at its core and suitable amenities. We're hopeful that we're much more likely to see this with a deal involving Manchester City Council than a private developer alone (see the intransigence of the owners of the former BBC site and their refusal to engage with the community as a good example).

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Julie TurnerOctober 28th 2013.

With you all the way on this one, our apartment overlooks the Granada TV gardens and its an oasis, there is definitely wildlife on there too

Kevin PeelOctober 29th 2013.

Drop me an e-mail Julie and I'll keep you updated with developments - cllr(dot)k(dot)peel(at)manchester.gov.uk

AnonymousOctober 28th 2013.

Well said Kevin Peel.

AnonymousOctober 28th 2013.

The Coronation Street set should be handed over to MOSI as a pay to enter attraction. Given the recent controversy over the potential closure of this valuable asset to the City, the Coronation Street set could raise some very useful revenue and provide a fantastic attraction for the City.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Calum McGOctober 29th 2013.

Sadly they don't seem interested, saying it's not to do with their core remit... even though it will bring in extra people to their site. Shortsighted.

AnonymousOctober 28th 2013.

Great venue for a rave.......

AnonymousOctober 28th 2013.

What like The Warehouse Project?

AndyOctober 28th 2013.

I agree with "Anonymous". To destroy the set would be a terrible act of vandalism.

Michael IngallOctober 28th 2013.

Jonathon really !! your a flight of stairs away working in our building, and our door is always open as Gordo knows only too well !!, we could have answered your q's in a second, but you didn't ask us.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldOctober 28th 2013.

Mike just sent you a direct tweet. I did ask for a quote and went through the proper channels. Let's talk

Mark GarnerOctober 29th 2013.

Nice to have you here Lord Ingall

Michael IngallOctober 31st 2013.

JS always happy to take you call, being socially dyslexic it's Gordo I struggle with! X

GimboidOctober 28th 2013.

Can anybody remember how successful, or not, the Granada tours were when they were last open? I'm not convinced the street would be a sufficient 'pull' in itself to be a viable attraction once it loses it's 'day job'.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 28th 2013.

Corra' is the cornerstone of post modern Mancunian culture and it should be enough to fund the MOSI.

GimboidOctober 28th 2013.

Any evidence of that though? Can you answer my first question?

AnonymousOctober 29th 2013.

I think Lord Tony Wilson was famousa for saying that. You'd need to contact Granada for your answer.

AnonymousOctober 28th 2013.

Not more misguided nonsense about saving the flippin Corrie set. When the Printworks was sold they didnt knock down Maxwell House and preserve instead a load of printing presses and typewriters. When we think of our theatrical heritage we wouldn't consider knocking down the Theatre Royal and preserving instead a plywood theatre set. We don't focus on preserving curtains, projector screens and usherette uniforms at the expense of important cinema buildings....... Why then this obsession with a 2/3rd scale 1980s built television set to the exclusion of Ralph Tubbs' fine Granada House HQ building and the first purpose built television studios in the country. This ludicrous campaign drives me insane. Ditch the set, retain the buildings of genuine architectural and heritage value.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Matt JOctober 28th 2013.

Great point well made, although I am one of those who would be sad to see it go, but I'm sure I'll get over it.

AnonymousOctober 29th 2013.

It's not even the original set. It was build in the 1980s. There are more pressing and important issues regarding this site. For example, the large bonded warehouse that sits on the site (you can see it from MOSI) doesn't have listed status. I would prefer to see some architecture of real historical significance saved over a TV set. The secret garden should be saved. There's also the opportunity to open up some of the old canal arms down there. Like they did when the Bridgewater hall was built. There also needs to be real provision of open space. Spinningfields works now because the temporary open space in front of Carluccios attracts people. I would like to see some real consultation from Allied London for a development that reflects Manchester not London. Credit should go to the Living Ventures and the owners of Neighbourhood for providing something on Spinningfields that people will go to (whether you're a fan or not). The people of Manchester are more savvy. They were never going to go down there for a Cafe Rouge or Gourmet Burger Co.

Michael IngallOctober 31st 2013.

Hang on Anonymous, we have funded every independent restaurant we have created in Spinningfields , and in several cases sporned the concept. When we put cafe rouge and GBK in we didn't actually have a great queue of indies at our door, and it took two to three like minded people with vision to get the restaurant scene going and we are continuing to fund independents. We have created several successful independent businesses and are supporting many .The public space in hardman square is temporary only in design but not in form, WE have redesigned this area and WE have now persuaded all that the public space here is a really important asset. The original plan was to develop it. Watch mancon for details of our consultation plans, please come along.

AnonymousOctober 31st 2013.

Michael, apologies but I'll hope you'll forgive me as it often appears that the credit (of the success in Spinningfields) is directed toward Messers Hitchin and Bacon. Spinningfields has evolved into a real asset to Manchester. It's the cleanest and most well maintained area of the city. I also appreciate that the current open space in Spinningfields is a development space and wouldn't blame you (although wouldn't be happy about it) for building on it. You are in business to make money after all. I have a few questions. 1) Who have you had to persuade to keep this area as open space?....a potential developer or the City Council?....2) Are you going to design a space like this into your development on Quay street. I think we can both agree that the success of the open space in Spiningfields is more by luck than design. ;-)

Amanda EveryOctober 29th 2013.

I think that one of the things that concerns me - having witnessed the same from Sefton MBC - is that MCC seems to be on some kind of 'self destruct' trail; bent on reduction and destruction of key landmarks within the environment in the name of regeneration. It's alarming how quickly it seems to need to redesign and remove or change publicly loved spaces in recent months - I'm thinking Century House and Library Walk here, off the top of my head, and all in the face of its voting electorate. It doesn't make sense to remove something from its original site and relocate it (almost for the convenience of its actors, it seems) when there are viewers - and visitors - WORLDWIDE - who would pay good money to walk on the same hallowed ground as some of their idols from the soap. And I don't even WATCH soaps, but it doesn't take a genius to work out that if you're a fan, you'd prefer the original site, wouldn't you...!?

SquirrelitoOctober 29th 2013.

There's plenty of "science" in the television industry, and Granada was internationally renowned as one of the best production companies in the world. Add the fact that the Corrie set itself is right at the side of MOSI and surely could be absorbed relatively easily into the main site. MCC and other parties should surely give serious thought to retention of the set. Could be a good draw for MOSI, especially with a small supplement to enter. It would be a shame if it was just flattened without a thought.

Colette HarrisonOctober 29th 2013.

I hope they include a great space for a top class market; like Borough or La Boqueria in Barcelona. If not here, in this space, then for the city to gain back Campfield market on Liverpool road.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousOctober 29th 2013.

Great idea

AnonymousOctober 29th 2013.

While I'm not agin MCC taking a chance with a developer to do further develop the City, I am concerned with past 'failed marriages', like with one with West Properties. (four 'graves' I think) I wish the couple well.

AnonymousOctober 29th 2013.

Whilst it would be a huge shame to lose the Coronation St set, it needs to be considered that as time goes by the vacated set on the Granada site and the new one at Media City will start to diverge in the way they look. Once it's no longer actively used for filming, it will stop looking like the version people see on TV. If it looks like a throwback to 2013 in say 2023 and beyond then does it lose some of its potential tourism pull?

AnonymousNovember 4th 2013.

The studio buildings are far more interesting from a historical point of view - being among the first purpose built TV studios in the UK. Of course that would be a bit too cultural for Manchester. So everyone is interested in the Coronation Street SET which was only constructed in 1981 and can be replicated anywhere.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Down with philistines!November 4th 2013.

Well said. I find this silly campaign really depressing.

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