Welcome to Manchester Confidential
Reset Password
The Confidential websites will be undergoing routine updates. This may cause the sites to go offline. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.

You are here: Manchester ConfidentialNews.

Gorton's £10.6m Space Project

Jill Burdett speaks to Sue Woodward, Project Director of the Space and Sharp Projects

Written by . Published on August 12th 2014.

Gorton's £10.6m Space Project

MANCHESTER must want to clone Sue Woodward.

She turned The Sharp Project from an empty shed by Moston Vale into a thriving media hub and is about to do the same with The Space Project, created from another derelict building, this time in Gorton.

“We're probably now the new home for independent production in the UK.”

The old Fujitsu factory has been transformed into a 360,000sqft purpose built film studio with four vast stages and one smaller stage, all fitted with the most up-to-date technology, backed up with production rooms, workshops for prop production, dressing rooms, a very cool screening room, offices, meeting rooms and a laundrette.

The clue here is in the name. You can rent any amount of space from a meeting room to the 11,200sqft of Stage One.

The Space ProjectThe Space Project

The Space Project wasn’t due to officially open until this summer, but when the BBC came knocking needing somewhere to produce a series of CBBC films, two stages were brought forward and have been in full swing since May.

It’s testament to the charisma and enthusiasm of Woodward (main image, yellow jacket) that she can carry people with her and make things like this happen, including the early demolition of two vacant tower blocks which scarred the neighbourhood and gave out the wrong message.

We meet in the building’s canteen, a vital component for crews filming long hours. Some new tenants walk in for a look around. They're impressed.

She must be pleased with how it’s turned out?

“Very. This was a building that was beyond nothing when we began, a hideous eyesore and now it's this amazing place," beams Woodward. "We put everything we learnt from Sharp into it, where to spend the money, where to save and benefited from having that experience. It’s worked really well."

It is indeed impressive. The scale of the stages, the back office facilities, the standard of the fit-out and the fact that the car park is already bursting thanks to people already working there. PRP were the architects who translated the vision and designed the fit-out.

Workshop at SpaceWorkshop at Space

Space cost £10.64m to develop, with Manchester City Council contributing the site and £6.1m. The European Regional Development Fund contributed £4m with another £500,000 from the Homes and Communities Agency for enabling works.

As well as the BBC, a couple of adverts (one involving a live camel) have been shot here and an independent production company is just about to start shooting in Stage 2.

Woodward is not surprised by the interest. “When we were pitching for the funding I had to put forward a very strong business case and knew there would be a demand.

“MediaCity has brilliant broadcast studios but we knew from our experience at Sharp that there is a need for high quality, technically brilliant and accessible production studios. The Space Project provides that.

“We're probably now the new home for independent production in the UK.”

Space ExteriorSpace Exterior

Part of the business plan is that new firms would come and cluster on the peripheries of Space to offer complimentary or support services. That ripple effect is already happening.

It's happened inside too. All the joinery fit-out of the dressing rooms and the tables and benches for the canteen were manufactured by Cheshire Contracts, a stone’s throw away from Space.

“It is about the physical development, the creation of stages and a new business but it is also about changing how the area looks at itself," said Woodward. "Where there was once an eyesore locals now see this building creating wonderful things and providing great inspiration on all levels.

 “They used to film Shameless on a street around the corner. Now TV dramas are being filmed here and there are opportunities for local people and local businesses to be part of it.

“That is what makes the Sharp and Space projects different, any profit made goes back to the city and then comes back to this sector.

“Jobs are the payback. Sharp has 60 full-time companies, employing from two to 60 staff. On a given day there can be between 500 to 700 people working there, depending on what is being filmed.

"All of these people are going to the local shops, using local companies, self-generating.

“We are looking to further expand our apprenticeship scheme, Sharp Futures, giving opportunities for kids in the M20 zone. We pay a living wage and give them incredible opportunities to be part of this industry. That will happen at Space too.

The Sharp Project Stage 4The Sharp Project Stage 4

The Sharp Project has just landed its biggest letting to date. Sports wear brand JD is relocating from Pilsworth and will produce all its digital and marketing content from Stage 2 at Sharp.

The deal is worth £2m and will see 58 staff, including photographers and designers, transfer to Sharp.

As well as the mother brand, JD, marketing material will be produced for Size?, Bank, Scotts, Tessuti, Blacks, Millets, Ultimate Outdoors and Foot Patrol. The Sharp Project has been chosen for the investment due to the presence of other creative and digital businesses based in the building, which the creative team at JD are keen to engage and work with.

Peter Cowgill, Executive Chairman of JD Sports Fashion said: “This is a very exciting step for us. Multi-channel is a significant growth area for us and a key strategic priority.

"Taking this facility at The Sharp Project means we can facilitate our rapid growth and future demands while still keeping it local. We are combining all of our content, photography, design and production into a single multi-channel team.

"We are a forward looking company and taking permanent production space is an innovative approach for a retailer that enables us to be much more self-sufficient and productive. It will help us keep ahead of the competition.”

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council said: “It’s great to have a worldwide business base themselves at The Sharp Project making a significant investment into their presence on site. The Creative Digital sector in Manchester is going from strength to strength and The Sharp Project has been a big part of that story and continues to deliver opportunities for local people.”

Sharp ProjectSharp Project

Follow @jillburdett on twitter.

Discover more from the Space Project and Sharp Project.



Main image of Space Project team by Colin Boulter, Neilson Reeves Photography. Based in the Sharp Project www.neilsonreeves.co.uk

Building image credits to Andy Marshall www.andymarshall.co 

Like what you see? Enter your email to sign up for our newsletters which are chock-a-block with more great reviews, news, deals and savings.

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

AnonymousAugust 13th 2014.

The usual ranting suspects are conspicuous by their absence here. Do they hate good news?

AnonymousAugust 18th 2014.

Come on! Where are all the loony ranters?!

AnonymousAugust 18th 2014.

It makes a change from ****ing burgers, LV, Spinningfields, Italian restaurants, Deansgate restaurants and the NQ.

AVOAugust 18th 2014.

Yet Another F*cking Studio!

4 Responses: Reply To This...
GimboidAugust 19th 2014.

Terrible having growing industries in our city, isn't it?

AnonymousAugust 19th 2014.

That's more like it Avo. Where's "David" though? I miss "David".

GimboidAugust 19th 2014.

I think he started posted anonymously because he got fed up of me telling him that he always spouts nonsense.

AVOAugust 20th 2014.

It was a sarcastic response to the first two rants. Along the lines of YAFI...

AnonymousAugust 19th 2014.

Are there any interior photos of this building's previous life as a base for computing pioneers Ferranti? I love to see maligned buildings being totally reimagined like they have achieved here.

To post this comment, you need to login.Please complete your login information.
Or you can login using Facebook.

Latest Rants

Ashle Kumar

After putting password in our system often we forget it. But don't worry it can be recover by a…

 Read more

Postal services in goverment sector are pretty awesome. Now USPS offering excellent services in…

 Read more

Know your username(which is same as your employee number) Now click this link. And complete your…

 Read more

Link below to an MEN article on future plans for the area.…

 Read more

Explore The Site

© Mark Garner t/a Confidential Direct 2021

Privacy | Careers | Website by: Planet Code | SEO by The eWord