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Warehouse Project Returns To City Centre?

David Blake on the mystery surrounding the plans for Mayfield Depot

Written by . Published on August 28th 2013.

Warehouse Project Returns To City Centre?




Confidential has it on good authority that Manchester’s most notorious super-club-night and pinnacle of modern Manc ravery, The Warehouse Project, looks set to return to the city centre in 2014.

I casually dropped in that I'd heard about the proposed move. He subsequently informed me that he'd got wind of a move to Mayfield from a number of Warehouse colleagues, but that it was all very "hush-hush".

Having moved last year from Piccadilly’s underground Store Street to the current Victoria Warehouse venue in Old Trafford, the organisers seem to have succumbed to a bout of homesickness with rumours suggesting a move to the Mayfield Depot on Piccadilly's Fairfield Street - round the corner from the Store Street site.

The venue, currently owned by BRB Residuary (previously the British Railways Board), had lain dormant for over a quarter of a century before July’s Manchester International Festival, particularly the highly anticipated Massive Attack performances, brought the dilapidated depot back to life and demonstrated that it could work as an events venue.

A show at which, incidentally, The Warehouse Project staffed all of the bars.

A planning application has been put forward to the Council by Liverpudlian design and development agency Addy Consultancy to change the use of the 120,000 sq ft site from warehousing, storage and distribution to a conference, event, leisure and dance venue.

Unfortunately, Bill Addy, founder of the consultancy and official planning applicant has remained unwilling to comment.

The proposed Mayfield siteThe proposed Mayfield site

So are the rumours founded?

Initially, we happened upon a letter being enthusiastically distributed around the city centre. Here it is:


The letter that started the rumours: Outrageous crime stats have been edited outThe letter that started the rumours: Outrageous crime stats have been edited out


Ignoring the geographical inaccuracies (Mayfield is not in the Northern Quarter), double M in ‘vommiting’, suspicious application of ‘FACT’ and gross misuse of hyperbole, our attention was caught.

We grabbed our finest spades and did some digging.

It is a move that Warehouse Project founder, Sacha Lord, is not very keen to discuss at present:

"We are aware of a very slanderous letter, which was distributed regarding The Warehouse Project and Mayfield Depot last week."

The slander Sacha is upset about are the wild crime figures the poster states resulted from Warehouse Project nights in the city centre. 

“It was distributed to try and cause public outrage for an application on the premises, submitted by The Addy Group, Liverpool," continues Sacha.

“The Warehouse Project has previously operated at the Mayfield Depot, staffing all the bars for Manchester International Festival season, when it had its residency in there for the acclaimed Massive Attack shows.

“The Warehouse Project, unlike this slanderous letter states, have no plans to put on shows at Mayfield Depot, and are currently looking forward to another season at Victoria Warehouse.”

Mayfield Depot interiorMayfield Depot interior

That's that then. Well no, maybe it isn’t.

Speaking with an employee of The Warehouse Project working at the recent National Youth Music Theatre production of West Side Story at Victoria Warehouse, I casually dropped in that I'd heard about the proposed move. He subsequently informed me that he'd got wind of a move to Mayfield from a number of Warehouse colleagues, but that it was all very "hush-hush".

Despite the "hush-hush", it seems to be fairly common knowledge in and around Mayfield’s surrounding area that the move is taking place.

“Yeah it’s going to be the Warehouse Project moving in,” said an employee of Fed Ex, located right behind the depot on Baring Street. “I know there’s been a slight objection but I don’t think it will really affect us.”

The expansive interiorThe expansive interior

How about the UNITE student halls, a hop, skip and jump away from the depot. Had they been notified? “Yeah we've heard about it,” an employee in the throes of being heckled by a group of confuddled Chinese students told us. “I don't think our security are too pleased."

With dozens of rooms overlooking the main Baring Street entrance and rents reaching £200 per week, trepidation over the proposed move is understandable.

Attempts to reach the Unhappy Security have as yet proved unfruitful.

As with many situations of this nature, people's reluctance to come forward or desire to remain unnamed are indicative of the sensitivity of the issue. Are they fearing employer reprisal? It would seem that way.

And what of the prominent 338-room Macdonald Hotel on London Road, less than 500ft from the proposed site, they must have been informed of the planning application.

“We’ve spoken to a number of different people regarding the move. Any regeneration taking place at this end of the city needs to be encouraged,” I’m told by a hotel spokesperson, who - guess what? - refuses to be named.

I informed the official that in actual fact, there are no plans to renovate the exterior of the building whatsoever, it will remain exactly as it is from the outside. Knackered with a smattering of post-industrialised blues. Hardly regeneration.

It was all beginning to feel a tad clandestine.

No proposed changes to the exteriorPlanning application: No proposed changes to the exterior

The application by the Addy group, initially due to have been determined by Friday 16 August, has now been reset for the 16 September. Currently, the standard consultation expiry date ends on the 5 September, this is the date by which comments in response to consultation actions must be received.

That's all seemingly well, good and fairly unsuspicious. That is until you look at the proposed timing of the events in the application.

The Addy group states on the application, that the vast majority of events would take place in the months of October, November and December, closing at 5am.

Sound familiar?

For this 2013 season the Warehouse Project opens on Friday 27 September, continues throughout October, November and December with the closing party on 1 January. All kicking-out at 5am.

Very familiar.

In which case, why would The Warehouse Project be so covert about the whole thing?

For a number of reasons, primarily that the new season is but a month away from kicking off. These rumours would certainly destabilise proceedings and damage relations with the current owners of Victoria Warehouse.

When The Warehouse previously unveiled their intent to leave Store Street, Project devotees were positively rabid about a potential move out of Manchester to London, Bristol, Scotland or even South Wales. Not what they want before their grand season opening.

Proposed closing time at 5amProposed closing time at 5am

So what about the capacity?

Well, the ‘slanderous letter’ suggests numbers of between 8000 to 10,000 Warehouse goers. A hopeful number, given that Privilege in Ibiza, ‘the largest nightclub in the world’, can only just hold a capacity of 10,000.

It's optimistic, but not an entirely unfeasible number.

Store Street held 1800 people. Victoria Warehouse, with 3000 sq metres of floor space can hold up to 5000.

According to Addy’s application, Mayfield has 11,000 sq metres of gross internal floorspace. Making it nearly four times the size of Victoria Warehouse. May as well give them all sombreros and Majorette batons in that case.

11000 square feet to play around with11000 square feet to play around with

One thing's for sure, having that amount of party-goers in the city centre is sure to have an impact.

One major city centre investor is particularly worried: "It'll suck the life out of the other bars and clubs in the city. There is no way that you could draw up to 10,000 people out of other city centre venues and it not have a detrimental effect on businesses.

"The other issue is crime. There's the potential for major problems here. I'm aware that they have many problems with theft at these Warehouse events, but the other more worrying aspect is the amount of drug pushers these types of events attract."

The notice outside the depotThe notice outside the depot

Crime in the area is not high in relation to other areas of the city centre. The Crime Impact Statement produced by Greater Manchester Police for The Addy Consultancy suggests that 'disorder is less likely in areas where premises are isolated and when customers are not forced out of premises in large numbers.'

Isolated the depot is, but conveniently close to Piccadilly. First trains out of the station from 5am could be a sight to behold. Reminiscent of scenes from The Walking Dead.

Less convincing though is the GMPs suggestion that rampant mobile phone theft during these events could be remedied through the use of small lockers. Clearly the police have never lost their friends 47 times during a Warehouse event.

Any large gathering of this kind is going to attract undesirable elements by it's nature. Parklife, for example, has it's fair share of drug pushers and front-garden urinators, but the vast majority of festival goers turn up, have a good day and head home all the happier.

Police presence at Warehouse events has always been conspicuous.

Mayfield exteriorMayfield exterior

Pushing anti-social issues aside (for sick in the streets and pee on the doorstep are but minor by-products of free westernised culture, and mostly the fault of a few imbeciles), it would be difficult to argue that drawing thousands of people in to the city centre, all with money to burn, is a negative thing.

If the idea to congregate nearly 80,000 football fans but ten minutes from the city centre was a newlyfangled concept, why there'd be uproar. It wouldn't be allowed.

Yet, it was recently estimated that football nets Greater Manchester's economy around £330m a year, the equivalent of staging the Olympics every four years. 

And the former Manchester, now Phones4U Arena, regularly maintain crowds of up to 23,000 slap-bang in the city centre without major incident.

For the Star and Garter pub, positioned right next to the depot, the arrival could potentially be a Godsend. A statement from the pub declares: "The redevelopment of the Mayfield Goods Warehouse for the Manchester International Festival and the shows held there, especially Adam Curtis vs Massive Attack, enabled us to open like an actual pub for the first time and continue trading for at least another three months.

"The application for Mayfield had been made by The Addy Consultancy Company, who may well be acting on behalf of the Warehouse Project, but given how much rubbish makes up the rest of the letter, don't assume it's true."


Mayfield exterior on Baring StreetMayfield exterior on Baring Street

We met with city centre Councillor Joan Davies to discuss the potential move: "The planning and licence applications made by Liverpool-based Addy Consultancy for the use of Mayfield Depot for conferences and dance events have raised some questions.

"There’s a rumour-mill at work.

"Of course facts are the best antidote to rumour. My colleague, Councillor Kevin Peel, and I both appreciate developers and would-be licensees contacting local residents to explain their intentions and hear their future neighbours’ views.

"So far I’ve seen no evidence that the businesses behind these applications has been talking to local people.  .  

"With any such application I look for three things: is it going to be a safe environment for its staff and customers, does it add to rather than detract from its environment, and have the organisations behind the application established a dialogue with the local population?

"The larger the development the greater the potential impact, and this could be huge, therefore I’d be interested to hear from more residents."

Cllr Joan Davies can be reached at cllr.j.davies@manchester.gov.uk

All the details and related documents for the planning application can be found via the Manchester City Council's public access website here.

Follow David Blake on Twitter @david8blake

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

PaulAugust 28th 2013.

If anything it will have a positive impact on the bars in the area. People don't go to The Warehouse Project until about 11pm - so they will be coming to the city centre from towns and cities all over the North-West, filling up all the bars from 6pm onwards. If anything, having it in Old Trafford has had a greater impact on takings for these bars. The only losers will be the rip off taxi drivers that can't charge £20 for a 3 mile trip anymore. Which I am happy about. Hotels in the city will also see booking rise. Also means that drunk, vulnerable people won't have to treck back in to the city at silly o'clock. Piccadilly station is over the road. To be honest I cannot think of one negative if this relocation does happen.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Alex24August 28th 2013.

Needs to be brought into the centre, it'll help the event and the city go from strength to strength in the coming years.

TimbucAugust 30th 2013.

Agreed. And I don't understand how it will take business away from existing licensees. People currently go to the WHP nights in Old Trafford, they will come ot the city centre instead. It's not as if they get a lot of passing traffic who just happen upon it and choose to go there instead of a nearby pub or club. And as Paul said, people don't go until 11pm so a lot of pubs and bars are going to do well out of it.

AnonymousAugust 28th 2013.

Looks like a certain Councillor's campaign has failed...

kevconnorAugust 28th 2013.

By 2015 the area in particular is likely to be substantially altered as part of the changes to the island platform at Piccadilly Station as part of the Northern Hub.

SoapysudsAugust 28th 2013.

Will this not be a damper on the Council's own plans for London Road Fire Station?

AnonymousAugust 28th 2013.

Doesn't the council actively encourage anything which brings footfall into the centre? Surely they'd be 100% behind this. Having been a WHP regular for many years one thing is for certain they are extremely well run events with a visible police presence. They wouldn't risk ruining their own reputation with a potentially hard to manage folly. I think the originators of that flyer have some ulterior motives somehow. Being a city centre resident I'd welcome them back to the city centre in a heartbeat - if it is indeed them. Who's to say it's not a new competitor planning something?

GimboidAugust 28th 2013.

If it is a WHP return to the city centre, I hope this time round they sort out their toilets provision. The memory of young ladies squatting to relieve themselves on the floor, surrounding by people queueing for the portaloos at Store Street is seared into my memory.

1 Response: Reply To This...
David BlakeAugust 29th 2013.

The Store Street toilets were far from ideal but the current toilet set up at Victoria Warehouse is actually very good and a vast improvement.

DarrenAugust 29th 2013.

I got the flyer, it was terrible. Whoever made this thing needs to be taken to court for slander. I live in the village just round the corner and I'm looking forward to going

AnonymousAugust 29th 2013.

Gimboid - the first thing I did was look at the plans to see the number of ladies toilets they were planning and yes it looks like a great improvement!

Jonathan SchofieldAugust 29th 2013.

This is a marvellous idea. The more the city centre is used the more exciting it becomes.

AnonymousAugust 29th 2013.

Great article David. I posted to a couple of local groups on LinkedIn to see what the business community makes of it.

AnonymousAugust 29th 2013.

I am now a Brighton Uni Student and the amount of people I study with that travel all the way up to Manchester to spend there student loans in our city is phenomenal. Bringing all this money into the city centre and the surrounding bars can only be a good thing.

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

This must be the case at other Unis up and down the country too, which means talented people will come to our city, see how amazing it is and possibly move here after graduation, bringing their skills with them and adding to our economy.

AnonymousAugust 30th 2013.

Ugh the thought of it makes me cringe.

1 Response: Reply To This...
TimbucAugust 30th 2013.

Good. More positives then.

AnonymousAugust 31st 2013.

I have said the move to Old Trafford was always a bad one. It is difficult to get to and from the venue, without having to fork out money in order to get there safely and on time. Most of the staff and people who go all the time are students, and students reside in Fallowfield and surrounding areas, which has a straight through link to the venue and back by bus. It is important to prioritise the safety along with the quality of the night of the individual attending the events. Seeing as though the free shuttle bus from the venue in Old Trafford takes you back to Store Street pretty much after each event... rings bells that something isn't right? Old Trafford is too far out, and I've heard too many times that WHP is losing it's magic due to being inaccessible or having to spend hard earned weekend money on a dodgy taxi, that could be spent in the venue. I have loved being a part of the WHP events since I've lived in Manchester, and will continue only if they do something for the people and BRING IT BACK TO THE CITY CENTRE.

AnonymousAugust 31st 2013.

I moved to MCR straight after graduation purely for WHP and Sankeys. Now both have f**cked off else where... BRING THEM BACKKKKK!!! I live in the city centre for the hustle bustle atmosphere, the rent is high too but I think it's all worth it. If anyone lives in the city centre, pays higher rent and complains, why don't you move else where that's more quiet... or live in the beetham tower so tall that no noise will reach you.... That letter makes no sense at all

2 Responses: Reply To This...
GimboidSeptember 1st 2013.

Elsewhere? Victoria Warehouse is barely outside the city centre. Get a grip. And a cab.

AnonymousSeptember 1st 2013.

£20 sometimes £30 a cab to town puts a lot of people off going, plus you can be made to wait ages to get one from there, who wants to do that in the rain?

AnonymousSeptember 1st 2013.

It would be good if the plans, whatever they may be, were made clearer.

AnonymousSeptember 1st 2013.


2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 2nd 2013.

What do you mean? Is there cloak & dagger stuff going on?

AnonymousSeptember 2nd 2013.

Surely the council wouldn't try to do anything that puts its own agenda ahead of what is best for the city! That would NEVER happen. (parking) And if this went through, I would love to know why the village not have a 5am license approved..reasons cited were not enough security, city didn't have the resources to support it, it would mean more drugs on the streets, crime, violence, public intoxication etc etc. Nothing against WHP, I love them. I go frequently. Just fed up with council shenanigans.

AnonymousSeptember 4th 2013.

I heard another flyer got dropped today.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 5th 2013.

Yes, more foolishness from this campaign saying "will destroy the whole city" like an atom bomb (full of glitter). And is @StopMayfieldWHP on twitter with more made up statistics. like that plucked from the air figure 1000 (nice round number) crimes! Some suspect links to certain Councillor seeking populist votes from residents! Who can say!

AnonymousSeptember 5th 2013.

Whoa!!!! Did you see this YouTube video??? www.youtube.com/…/0o2nfX3aPto… Pretty explosive (but there are a few funny bits)

AnonymousSeptember 6th 2013.

More anti-WHP (albeit not as bombastic as previous attempts at taking pops at them) www.sickchirpse.com/…/…

2 Responses: Reply To This...
mancadamSeptember 6th 2013.

he's right, for the most part. particularly RE: the exclusivity contracts.

Karl WheatDecember 19th 2013.

All of that seems like a fair point to me. Other nights can't book the DJs they want because WHP has exclusivity rights for many of the better DJs. But most seasoned clubs avoid WHP at all costs. As a result, there are fewer and fewer options for nights out in Manchester.

AnonymousSeptember 6th 2013.

This is true. I'd hate to see other venues go the way of Sankey's.

AnonymousSeptember 16th 2013.

I heard the council pulled the plug on this.

1 Response: Reply To This...
David BlakeSeptember 18th 2013.

Premises license is still under review here: www.manchester.gov.uk/…/14…

AnonymousSeptember 26th 2013.

Read on twitter that London & Continental railways has bought Mayfield Station...I guess it means it will be a rail station again??

JayDecember 19th 2013.

Leave the warehouse project in old trafford it's wicked!!!!!

AnonymousDecember 19th 2013.

Leave the warehouse project in old trafford it's wicked !!!!!

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