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HOME And Hotel Rise From First Street Ground

Cultural foundations are laid on fringe site development

Published on September 2nd 2013.

HOME And Hotel Rise From First Street Ground

IF YOU'VE been scooting into Manchester down Princess Parkway and then along Medlock Street you can't failed to have noticed buildings rising.

It will have a 500-seat theatre, a 150-seat flexible studio space; five cinema screens, a 500m2, 4m high gallery space, digital production and broadcast facilities and a cafe bar and restaurant

These are part of the £90m scheme at First Street North, the ASK development.

The principal building on the site is HOME, the £25m new cultural venue due to open in spring 2015. 

HOME is the product of a merger between two Manchester arts organisations, Cornerhouse and the Library Theatre Company. It will have a 500-seat theatre, a 150-seat flexible studio space; five cinema screens, a 500m2, 4m high gallery space, digital production and broadcast facilities and a cafe bar and restaurant.

It's name is deeply controversial in Manchester - as this Confidential article shows 

Construction is also underway on the other elements of the 2.2 acre First Street North site which includes a 208 bed four star hotel to be operated by Melia International Hotels for their Innside brand, 279 luxury apartments aimed at international students, eight new restaurants/cafe units and a 700 space multi storey car park. There will also be a new public square. 

First Street North is the first phase of the £500m First Street regeneration project covering 20 acres in total and being brought forward by Ask Property Developments, the Council’s development partner for the project.

 In the press release we received Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said after a site visit: “First Street North is gaining real momentum as a magnet for investment and job creation. We’ve been talking for some time about the huge potential of this site but it’s no longer an abstract, there is now real physical evidence of its future as a vibrant addition to Manchester city centre. It's great to see the vision starting to take shape." 

 Men in suits (mostly) amongst the cranes

Men in suits (mostly) amongst the cranes: l-r: Tony Shenton of Wates Construction North West, HOME chief executive Dave Moutrey, Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, John Hughes, MD of Ask Property Developments and HOME chair of trustees Jim Forrester oversee work on the £90m scheme to transform First Street North. 

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

Manc GuySeptember 2nd 2013.


MattSeptember 2nd 2013.


AnonymousSeptember 2nd 2013.

An awkward grouping of gaudy, plastic boxes including an out-sized bling-clad car park effectively substituting for the Edwardian magnificence of the Palace and Midland hotels in an hilarious attempt at place making. To make matters worse the developer Ask Developments and their contractor Carillion look determined to value engineer away any finesse these buildings might have had. They should not be allowed to prioritise profit over quality in what is a highly significant, cultural-led scheme - moreso given the amount of public funding that has gone into it. Without proper scrutiny, we could so easily end up with a cheap, shoddy mess lacking the character that the Library theatre and Cornerhouse venues had in spades. Now is the time for these institutions and the Council to hold the developers to task and ensure they deliver a scheme befitting these well loved, highly regarded institutions. As the catalyst for the wider scheme, this oversight should extend to the hotel and car park block as well as HOME itself.

Ghostly TomSeptember 4th 2013.

I hope it all turns out better than it looks on the renders. At the moment it looks like a series of mismatched, oddly coloured boxes scattered about the site with none of the unity of Spinningfields or the proposed development at NOMA. And who came up with the name for this arts centre? HOME! Politically correct claptrap from the 90s. I have a home already and this isn't it. Please think about it before it's all finished. And what are the plans for the existing Cornerhouse buildings? The Cornerhouse works because it's right at the centre of Manchester life on a busy corner of the city centre that gets lots of passing people traffic. This is too far off the beaten track to pop in for a coffee. It would have worked well in Spinningfields, adding some culture to an already popular and successful area of the city. Or in the N4 where a lot of Cornerhouse's supporters like to hang out when they are not at home in Chorlton. Nice to see the cranes though....

AnonymousSeptember 4th 2013.

The new place is around 3 minutes walk from the current Cornerhouse site Tom, if Whitworth St didn't curve you'd be able to see it from the front door. Is that really too far off the beaten track?

7 Responses: Reply To This...
Ghostly TomSeptember 4th 2013.

More like 10 but that's neither here or there. The problem is it is being built in a backwater of the city centre. The Oxford Road/Whitworth Street corner is right at the heart of things. People are going to have to make an effort and a detour to get to this new place. And I think a lot aren't going to bother unles they have tickets for something. Better to leave it where it is or move it to somewhere where the people go already. But they are committed to this so I suppose they are going to have to see it through to the end. It's still a bad name though....

AnonymousSeptember 5th 2013.

It's approximately 300 metres from the current Cornerhouse, which given a walking speed of 4mph is pretty much 3 mins, also it's on a direct route from Oxford road to Castlefield just along from Deansgate Locks. This site is in no way a backwater, it's just new, and even if it was you seem to be taking the position that the city must not evolve and grow in to new areas... which is odd, it's as if you're looking to find fault. But surely people don't do that on the internet.

Ghostly TomSeptember 5th 2013.

I'm very open and supportive of the city centre developing into new areas. But some things don't work. A restaurant built north of Great Ancoats Street won't thrive. South of it, in the N4 it will and that's just crossing the road. Look at The Avenue, it's got every ink going for it but location, the shops are deserted. And this is a similar situation except its further out. People will go if they have tickets and it will be busy then. But it's in the wrong place and will struggle for passing traffic which keeps the present building busy and buzzy. The name is dreadful. But I am enjoying the cranes....

Ghostly TomSeptember 5th 2013.

Thing not ink...d**m predictive text...

espoirSeptember 5th 2013.

Tom is right, I don't think anyone will go to this place so they'll have to bus school children in and quietly in 5 years or so it will be turned into a Tesco. Meanwhile two rare and quirky things Library Theatre and Cornerhouse right next to public transport hubs have been lost forever. Only under Howard Bernstein ... (he built on Piccadilly Gardens). I will never go there on principle.

Ghostly TomSeptember 6th 2013.

Actually, if they wanted the Cornerhouse and the Library Theatre out of the city centre, it would have been better to put it out on the Quays, where it would have done well adding to the cultural institutions already there. But, when I am in charge, Cornerhouse will stay where it is and the Library Theatre would be in the Mackie Mayor Market in the N4, brilliant spot for it near the trendy cultural souls that live on Thomas Street and a great use for an overlooked Manchester gem...

Ghostly TomSeptember 6th 2013.

....you can se how many people they are expecting at a performance by checking the picture above. Apart for Wicked moving in for the season, I imagine it will look like that a lot of the time...

JonSeptember 5th 2013.

I don't trust Ask to even build these boxes as good (or bad) as the renders suggest. What happened to the green living wall that was supposed to cover one side of the only competed building? That didn't happen even though the council occupy it....

AnonymousSeptember 5th 2013.

This scheme will struggle for precisely the same reasons First Street has struggled to attract commercial office tenants - its poor location. The scheme that is most comparable is probably Barbirolli Square which was a cultually led regeneration scheme with the Bridgewater Hall at its heart helping to pull in investment into a high spec offices. The critical points of difference are that Barbirolli Square is better located, better designed, much higher spec and the cultural building sits elegantly and with great dignity at the heart of the scheme. It also benefits from the place making qualities of the canal and the many wonderful listed buildings that sit nearby. At First Street HOME sits squat behind the viaduct, an adjunct to a tin foil-clad car park and cheap looking hotel. In short the scheme falls well short of the qualities (both objective and intangible) needed to compensate for its poor location. Then you have Ask / Carillion apparently cutting corners and making the scheme look ever cheaper... Oh dear.

Simon TurnerSeptember 5th 2013.

Its position is OK. I am sure there used to be a nightclub 50 yards away that attracted 1500 people a night in the late 1980s at a time when there wasn't a tram stop just up the road, and no bars close by. Can't recall the name of the club...

4 Responses: Reply To This...
Ghostly TomSeptember 6th 2013.

...but that was aimed at a different demographic, the kind who don't mind wallowing in muddy fields for 3 days to listen to indifferent music. It was never full of Manchester's theatre crowd. And as I remember didn't it close down? And is now a block of flats? They might call it HOME and maybe in a few years they will be tearing it down so it can become a block for precisely that purpose...

Simon TurnerSeptember 6th 2013.

Ghastly Tom more like. Muddy fields? What's that about? And you make "Manchester's theatre crowd" sound like a right snooty bunch but in my experience they're not at all.

Ghostly TomSeptember 6th 2013.

I was saying that both institutions are aimed at different demographics, comparing them is like comparing chalk and cheese. People who like to go to festivals are quite happy to go to whatever club is deemed trendy and that's why they went there. There is a Manchester theatre crowd of people who happen to enjoy the theatre. I'm one of them. I don't think they are snooty but you seem to. Plus I am allowed to voice my opinion without having to put up with a personal attack. I may not agree with you but I wouldn't lower my self to changing your name to make a cheap point.

Calum McGSeptember 9th 2013.

"People who like to go to festivals are quite happy to go to whatever club is deemed trendy and that's why they went there" - yes, exactly. That's why I used to go to Sankeys back in the day before any of the major Ancoats regen (and when it was really quite dark and scary down Jersey Street).

AnonymousSeptember 7th 2013.

The Avenue struggles because it offers nothing different and therefore nothing worth going out of your way for. This will host the city's main independent cinema, the Library Theatre and a gallery. People will make the (not very large in this case) effort.

AnonymousSeptember 7th 2013.

Also - perhaps the more culturally minded might be more willing to walk 5 minutes. The types who shop at the high end shops similar to those on the Avenue might be less arsed about trekking to a soulless dark windswept canyon for their fashion fix when there are other options.

JoanSeptember 7th 2013.

Actually the audience for Cornerhouse and The Library Theatre often includes people who used to go to The Hacienda. The new site will be halfway between Oxford Road and Deansgate stations, and jst a few minutes walk from The Palace Theatre, so hardly out of the way. Personally I'm no fan of the new name, but I expect we'll get used to it. I will however miss Cornerhouse bar and cafe-bar on a Saturday night. I think we need to maintain that sort of presence in that location.

AnonymousSeptember 7th 2013.

whoever ends up owning the cornerhouse would be mad not to keep it as a bar/restaurant given how well it currently does. It's comforting that there already exists a Tesco, Starbucks, Caffe Nero, Mcdonalds and Sainsburys in close promiximity. At least it won't end up as any of those. Bet Fred maybe?

3 Responses: Reply To This...
MSeptember 9th 2013.

As far as I understand it the Cornershouse's primary purpose is to put on art exhibitions and the cinema. The Library Theatre needs a home (pun alert) and the three make a great combo. If you were the owner of the cornerhouse you would jump at the offer from the council of a purpose built facility. I hear the existing cornerhouse bar is actually run by another company and whether it's packed to the rafters or empty the cornershouse still gets the same rent and no profits (anyone please correct me if wrong) therefore there is no incentive to keep the existing bar running. Given the location of the new place I can't see the new bar being anything to write home about (PUN AGAIN!). As part of the agreement to take residence in the new building (Home) the existing cornerhouse buildings must be sold to help fund the new development. They will be demolished for new buildings of new purpose. I heard talk of Network Rail possibly taking them. I can't say for definite but it seems highly unlikely there will be a bar or restaurant as part of any new build at the existing cornerhouse site.

AnonymousSeptember 9th 2013.

Ah, Betfred. The people, I believe, behind the demolition of Century House...

Manc GuySeptember 15th 2013.


James RichardsonSeptember 15th 2013.

Has nobody here been to London where places are actually far away from each other. Nowhere in Manchester city centre is that far away from anywhere else so all this 'distance from central areas' talk doesn't carry much weight. Although I agree the design has slipped somewhat from the original renders and as usual with new developments in the city centre the architects (and landscape architects) have neglected to include any substantial greenery in the scheme whatsoever. It's still good to see investment in a neglected are of the centre, though.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
GimboidSeptember 15th 2013.

Have you been to Castlefield on a weekday evening? Not that far away, but still pretty quiet... because it is far enough. The point is people might walk some distance to go to see a film or a show, but not for a casual drink or browse the shop and gallery. That is what what was perfect about the current Cornerhouse, and will be lost at the new location, as there's no other draw - it will be a shame to loose that activity to other venues close in to the core.

GimboidSeptember 15th 2013.


Manc GuySeptember 15th 2013.

You are right James. One thing I tell people that are new to the city is that Manchester is a walkable city. The city centre at least. From Great Ancoats Street to Castlefield or from London Road to Blackfriars Street. It's all walkable. However, the younger generation are quite happy to get a cab from venue to venue, even if it's not raining. Also, there's no point in telling that to people that drive in to the city to shop, because they 'need' to park as close to the shops as possible.

AnonymousSeptember 16th 2013.

Unjustifiable investment of 25 million from a Council who is the victim of austerity, where citizens live in poverty, yet this is considered a priority. All the built places that could of housed a new art gallery, library theatre and keep the already thriving Cornerhouse. Disgusts me.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Ghostly TomSeptember 18th 2013.

Keeping institutions like the Cornerhouse and Library Theatre in good working order is very important. They are part of Brand Manchester that does attract business to the city that do provide jobs. And Manchester, alongside London, is one of the few places in the UK that can do and is doing this, though not on the scale the capital does. But I do agree that Cornerhouse should have been left where it is doing very nicely and another disused building in the city could have been brought back in to use for the Library Theatre. This plan is a poor building in the wrong part of the city centre.

AnonymousSeptember 17th 2013.

Does anybody know what will happen to the current Cornerhouse building?

The TruthSeptember 17th 2013.

It's going to turn into a high class brothel with a drive-thru McDonalds and 2-4-1 Blue Wicked promos during church hours.

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