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Mayfield Depot Finally Gets Go Ahead

Huge new city centre cultural venue gets licence approved... and with only 79 conditions

Written by . Published on November 22nd 2013.

Mayfield Depot Finally Gets Go Ahead

It’s been one of the most convoluted and drawn out licensing applications Manchester has seen in recent years.

Indeed, City Centre Councillor Joan Davies remarked that it had been: “the most difficult application I’ve had to deal with in eighteen months as a ward Councillor.”

Barristers from each side have been slugging it out at the Council’s licensing committee meetings over the past couple of weeks.

Now finally, Manchester City Council has granted the Mayfield Depot Management Company Ltd a premises licence for the Mayfield Depot on Fairfield Street, Piccadilly. That is if they’re able to meet a weighty 79 conditions, including, oddly, free lollipops on exit. It keeps 'em quiet apparently.

Jon Drape, Director, Mayfield Depot Management Company Ltd, said: “Being granted the premises licence today is a great step forward for us to help realise our vision for the use of Mayfield Depot for the next five years.

“We are looking forward to working closely with GMP and other authorities to ensure we deliver one of the best run, safest and most secure venues in the country.”

Artist impression: Mayfield exhibitionArtist impression: Mayfield exhibition

There’s been a lot of noise surrounding the future of Piccadilly’s vast, empty Mayfield Depot, abandoned since 1986, in recent months. Not least because of us (see here and here).

First there were the whispers of rumoured collaborator, the Warehouse Project, releasing 10,000 ravers into the city centre and thus, hosting “the largest nightclub in the world” right on Piccadilly’s doorstep. Then there were the premises licence applications, mysteriously withdrawn, then re-applied again.

A three-pronged project brotherhood was formed, the Mayfield Depot Partnership (now Mayfield Depot Management Company Ltd), consisting of Jon Drape, MD of the Ear to the Ground and Ground Control Group (Parklife, Festival Number Six), Bill Addy of Liverpudlian design and development agency The Addy Consultancy and David Norris, former director of Ear to the Ground.

Their mission this: To bring Manchester a huge 120,000 square foot, 7,500 capacity cultural venue to rival that of London’s Old Truman Brewery, New York’s Park Avenue Armory or the Gasometer in Oberhausen, Germany.

In otherwords, large, airy, post-industrial buildings re-imagined into cultural hotspots drawing major investment and collaborators into the surrounding areas. Investment that the crumbling Mayfield area so obviously needs.

Artist impression: Mayfield fashion showArtist impression: Mayfield fashion show

Last month, the partnership announced its vision for the building during a public consultation at the depot's neighbouring Macdonald Hotel on London Road. The venue would be used to host a series of ‘creative and innovative events’ based around six key areas: Arts, food, film, fashion and retail, sport and music.

The Manchester International Festival (MIF) has already demonstrated what could be done with the 'space during productions such as Adam Curtis vs Massive Attack. MIF and Manchester Food and Drink Festival are already confirmed collaborators.

For the time being, however, the Warehouse Project has sat on the fence, waiting in the wings. Hesitant to confirm any such talks.

InteriorInteriorBarristers from each side have been slugging it out at the Council’s licensing committee meetings over the past couple of weeks.

The objectors, representing nearby student housing companies Unite and Liberty, and Adam Geoffrey Management (the latter acting on behalf of the current landlords of the Warehouse Project at Victoria Warehouse in Trafford Park), argued that the current application had not been “properly thought through” and at present, was "little more than a sales brochure", “a germ of an idea, insufficient for a venue of this scale.” The whole application, they argued, was but a smokescreen for the arrival of a 'super-club' in the city centre.

A contention that the applicants vehemently denied, a spokesperson for the Mayfield Company told us: "Warehouse Project hasn’t even been confirmed. Nothing is agreed. However, the Manchester International Festival and the Food and Drink awards want to collaborate. It’s important that people don’t just see this as a night club. It’s an all-year round cultural venue."

After hours of legal representations, debate and weeks of deliberation, the licensing committee, eventually, sided with the applicants.

Councillor Pat Karney, Manchester City Council's city centre spokesman, said: "The committee felt that this application met the licensing objectives and so, after listening to responses from people who made representations, we have given this approval but the committee have attached 79 conditions to ensure the premises is run safely and appropriately.

"These conditions include safeguards relating to CCTV, regular consultation with responsible authorities and fire safety. The premises are limited to holding 25 DJ led events per year. The applicants now have to wait until a separate planning application is dealt with before they will be able to operate the venue."

Assuming planning permission is granted, the first event at the Depot could take place as early as Summer 2014.

Stay on top of Mayfield Depot news @MayfieldDepot

The licence permits the hosting of entertainment and the selling of alcohol from Monday to Thursday up to midnight, and Friday and Saturday until 3am. 25 DJ events shall be allowed each year.

Planning permission has not yet been granted.

Mayfield photo credits to Jan Cheblik.

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

AnonymousNovember 22nd 2013.

Only 25, do people not realise how much good The Warehouse Project does to advertise our city to the graduates of tomorrow. I am studying down in Brighton and EVERYBODY down here has heard of The Warehouse Project and most travel 400 miles up north to go to it. Bringing it back into the city centre can only help promote the city to these future graduates who will be deciding where to live once they have finished their degree. At the minute 20% of all graduates head to London after University. We need to try and pull 20% of graduates to our city. With more graduates comes a bigger skills base, which in turn brings big companies, more jobs and a better economy.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
David BlakeNovember 22nd 2013.

For the record, Warehouse only has around 30 nights a year. Not that much of a difference.

JoanNovember 22nd 2013.

The applicants only asked for 25 nights.

Lil DegNovember 24th 2013.

There's more, around thirty within the twelve weeks but earlier in the year there were reduced capacity nights (that felt amazingly intimate in comparison) and Easter too. OP is right The Warehouse project pulls people from all over the country, and they're all on the same wicked vibe. It's like having a massive family, makes me proud to be a Manc.

JayNovember 25th 2013.

I'd go further than to say all over the UK. I know people who flew over from Spain to go to Warehouse. They stayed for the whole weekend which gave revenue to a hotel and a fair few restaurants too.

AnonymousNovember 22nd 2013.

The warehouse project is a blight on the city. I'm all for attracting young people for big club nights like off of the 90s but the irresponsible and flagrant disregard to the licensing application make the city a laughing stock. The director of the WHP is the brother in law of a senior GMP officer.

6 Responses: Reply To This...
rinkydinkNovember 23rd 2013.

The Warehouse Project is something all Mancunians can be proud of. It's the modern day Hacienda and raises the city's profile considerably. So stop talking utter shite

AnonymousNovember 23rd 2013.

What's your point about that connection? Should people with family in the council be banned from doing anything where the council have a say?

AnonymousNovember 23rd 2013.

No but Anon did not mention the Council He mentioned the GMP (the police) who are responsible for control with MCC's Licensing and EH for the control of bars bars and the police also for street order offenses among other things and would have made a representation to the hearing. The papers will be available on request from MCC Licensing. For some reason, the decisions of the licensing panels are not available on the web. Nor their hearing dates. (they are open to the public)

Lil DegNovember 24th 2013.

same goes though, it's a bit off key to suggest favor has been shown. Especially as it appears to have been a drawn out struggle to gain the licence.

Poster BoyNovember 25th 2013.

+1 Rinky Dink.

AnonymousNovember 26th 2013.

Thanks for the insult Rinkydink. I'm sure the families Nick Bonnie and Souvik Pal agree that the WHP is something us Mancs should all be proud of. There isn't one other venue in the city that would still be allowed to operate after a fatality and 15 others hospitalised in the same night as a direct result of illegal activity on their premises. Not only that to have others hospitalised in the following weeks for exactly the same reason. Compare that with the closure and further restrictions placed on the circle club for a drunken brawl. The concept of the WHP I'm in favour of. The operators and the 'one rule for one and one rule for another' GMP I am not. On a separate note, I think it would be a shame to see Mayfield station destroyed in 5 years for redevelopment.

Catherine ConnorsNovember 23rd 2013.

Great to see this amazing building being brought back to life

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Amanda EveryNovember 24th 2013.

Well said. I'm too old for the Warehouse Project at 42, but I would have loved to have gone to it! To have the Depot for year round events is fantastic for the City. We're pulling it together :)

rinkydinkNovember 24th 2013.

Too old at 42?! You are going to be old for a very long time with that attitude

PaulNovember 25th 2013.

I have never ranted before, but, come on: Dispersal clause: 4.3 Free lolliopos to be provided to customers. After all the legal council wrangling/costs (to the people of Manchester) is this the best My council legal team can come up with? Would I take a lollipop off Pat Karney? (the answer is NO!) Would you?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousNovember 25th 2013.

Took me a while to understand your rant Paul, but having looked it up on the Licence conditions document www.manchesterconfidential.co.uk/…/Mayfiedhearingdecision.pdf… there tis, amazingly: '4.3 Free lollipops to be provided to customers.' There must be a reason??

ktfairyNovember 25th 2013.

Keeps 'em quietier when they leave? Makes them happier and less likely to fight? We used to give free sweets on the way into our club back in the day...

PaulNovember 25th 2013.

It should of said in my second line: Free lollipops. Sorry, but, I was a bit mad about it at the time of writing.

1 Response: Reply To This...
JoanNovember 25th 2013.

Paul: It's a 16 page document, 8 pages of which are conditions imposed on the licence. The issue of lollipops as people leave club nights is quite common as a simple method of reducing dispersal noise, but it's just one tiny clause among the more stringent conditions for the licensee to meet, as you would expect in a venture of this size.

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