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10th February 2008
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Jammy doughnut
16.05.08

Numerous schemes are lined up for the ‘doughnut’ around central Manchester.

By Paul Unger

Call it city fringe, call it edge of city, or borrow the planners’ new buzzword: the doughnut. But whatever its name, there is no doubting the amount of proposals coming forward around the border of Manchester city centre.

All tick the council’s boxes with their mix of uses and closeness to transport hubs, but whether most will actually happen is another question.

Simon Reynolds, director at GVA Grimley’s Manchester office, is among the believers. ‘The current predominance of outer central business district schemes, such as Spinningfields, Piccadilly Place and First Street, is set to continue for the foreseeable future as more schemes come under construction,’ he says.

Among the developers to have made the first moves into the fringes was Town Centre Securities, now midway through its £250m mixed-use scheme on 12.8 acres at Piccadilly Basin.

Richard Dunn, associate director of Town Centre Securities, says: ‘Looking at the rest of the city, the traditional office core has expanded because of Spinningfields. City fringe areas now encompass New Islington and Ancoats with increased development further afield.

‘There will always be a cost/value gap between the traditional “core” and these prime, former fringe areas. But as time and development goes on, this gap will narrow.’

Next door to Piccadilly Basin Isis Waterside Regeneration is developing a residential-led scheme at Islington Wharf. Jenics is marketing the ground-floor commercial units at £18/sq ft – £10 below the average for the city centre.

A little further out, on the other side of Piccadilly station in Ardwick, Frogmore has carried out a £12m refurbishment of its Universal Square scheme, and has let more than 105,000 sq ft in the past 18 months to a variety of small office occupiers.

Chris Lloyd, associate director at DTZ and joint letting agent on Universal Square, says: ‘Occupiers are increasingly more concerned with the quality of a landscaped environment, occupational costs and flexibility of space rather than how close they are to King Street.’

Amazing storeys

As speculative development grinds to a halt across the country, not all the proposed doughnut developments are making it past their design launch parties.

Bob Dyson, chairman of Jones Lang LaSalle in Manchester, says the criteria will be threefold: ‘The drivers will be whether the development fits the sustainability agenda that is now top of corporates’ checklist; second, whether it can create a real sense of place; and, third, the transport links.’

Near Oxford Road station, Ask Developments is due to complete the initial phase of its First Street scheme later this year. The extension of the former BT office will create 180,000 sq ft of offices, a public square, the first 100 metres of a pedestrian boulevard, a multistorey car park and 150 homes.

The market is keen to see whether Ask will be as bold when it comes to speculative new-build development. The company says its development programme will continue as normal, though it remains in preparatory stages at Greengate Exchange and Boddingtons brewery site. Ask’s 25% shareholder, Morgan Stanley, is among the global investment banks with other demands on its cash at present.

Tony Bray, partner in office agency and regional head of Cushman & wakefield, says: ‘It will be an amazing success if many of these schemes start, let alone are delivered, in the current climate. The credit crunch has had a knock-on effect on banks and developers and it will take real confidence to commit right now.’

If development does stall because of a lack of ready cash, further land owned by Manchester City Council in the east and south could be brought forward through a local, asset-backed vehicle with English Partnerships. Dave Chilton, regional director of the regeneration agency, says talks are ongoing with the council over whether to employ such a vehicle to unlock the value of key sites.

Another moot point is the question of whether Allied London will continue to develop elsewhere in the city once it has finished Spinningfields. Allied is keeping tight-lipped for now but some agents suggest it may venture over the River Irwell into Salford.

However, rival schemes in the heart of the city centre might indicate that moving ever outwards holds risks, given the big city centre developments that are planned. Mike Hawkins, partner in office agency at WHR Property Consultants, says: ‘In five years’ time the professionals that went to Spinningfields will feel out on a limb.’

‘The real stellar prime business location will be St Peter’s Square, where there is now upwards of 800,000 sq ft of office development planned by AXA, Greater Manchester Property Venture Fund and Manchester & Metropolitan Properties among others.’

While no one would be drawn on naming the likely winners and losers, chief among the schemes that are likely to be developed next in the doughnut were Muse’s Victoria Station, given the developer’s backing by parent Morgan Sindall, and the wealthy Co-operative Group on its existing headquarters site on Corporation Street.

The developers will be hoping for jam tomorrow, rather than that hollow feeling.
 

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planners’ new buzzword: the doughnut:|

i remember writing an article back in the late 80's using that term.

However it was used for a very term reasons - The doughnut of deprivation - around the then very small city centre.

But when we now think of it, developments at say Victoria station or Oxford Rd are really the outer centre, rather than the fringes.
 

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10th February 2008
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
planners’ new buzzword: the doughnut:|

i remember writing an article back in the late 80's using that term.

However it was used for a very term reasons - The doughnut of deprivation - around the then very small city centre.

But when we now think of it, developments at say Victoria station or Oxford Rd are really the outer centre, rather than the fringes.
I totally agree about the The 'doughnut of deprivation' around the city centre HP. Having driven around the said area over the last week, (Miles Platting, Ancoats, Cheetham Hill, East Manchester, Broughton, etc.) I'm truly shocked by the deprevation and squalor surrounding the city centre. Absolutely shocking!
 

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I totally agree about the The 'doughnut of deprivation' around the city centre HP. Having driven around the said area over the last week, (Miles Platting, Ancoats, Cheetham Hill, East Manchester, Broughton, etc.) I'm truly shocked by the deprevation and squalor surrounding the city centre. Absolutely shocking!
One solution would be to actively push the functions of the centre a little further out into the main body of the city. Urban Splash seem to have the right idea, mixing residential development with some commercial developments in Cornbrook and New Islington.

Where I live in London was analogous to the poorer areas of Manchester about 20 years ago, but the proliferation of art galleries in the area have made it a place people want to live. Similarly Camden with the market and media companies, or Bermondsey with the office developments and cultural attractions along the south bank of the river.

It may be a special form of heresy around here to say so, but for Manchester outwards is more valuable than upwards.
 

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One solution would be to actively push the functions of the centre a little further out into the main body of the city. Urban Splash seem to have the right idea, mixing residential development with some commercial developments in Cornbrook and New Islington.

Where I live in London was analogous to the poorer areas of Manchester about 20 years ago, but the proliferation of art galleries in the area have made it a place people want to live. Similarly Camden with the market and media companies, or Bermondsey with the office developments and cultural attractions along the south bank of the river.

It may be a special form of heresy around here to say so, but for Manchester outwards is more valuable than upwards.
Isn't this just gentrification? The doughnut of deprivation simply moved outwards in London. New Cross, Deptford etc
 

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Isn't this just gentrification? The doughnut of deprivation simply moved outwards in London. New Cross, Deptford etc
I suppose gentrification isn't particularly desirable if it isn't managed. But Manchester is fairly sparsely populated in many of it's inner suburban districts. If these can be redeveloped with an appropriate mix of social, affordable and private rented and owner occupier properties you can create more balanced communities and no one needs to be driven out of the area.

Well in theory anyway. I doubt it'd make things worse anyway.
 
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