A landmark 2.2 million sq ft mixed-use regeneration scheme earmarked for the former BBC Oxford Road site in Manchester city centre will be known as Circle Square, joint venture partners Bruntwood and Select Property Group have revealed.
“THE FOOTFALL AROUND HERE IS UTTERLY AMAZING. THERE’S NO PROJECT LIKE THIS ANYWHERE IN THE CITY.” KEN KNOTT, SELECT PROPERTY GROUP
Circle Square (pictured) will feature 1.2 million sq ft of commercial space, 430,000 sq ft of private rented sector residential accommodation targeted at 22-35 year olds, 390,000 sq ft of serviced apartments aimed at mature and international students, 100,000 sq ft of retail space, 187 new trees and 5.4 acres of public realm. The scheme is being built in phases on the former BBC Oxford Road site as well as land currently occupied by the Manchester Technology Centre and Armstrong House, both of which would be replaced over time, next to Oxford Road and the Mancunian Way.
Plans for phase 1a of the project, which focused on residential buildings, were submitted in September 2015.
Phase 1b comprises five separate planning applications with over 1.1 million sq ft of residential, commercial and public space as well a multi-storey car park that Bruntwood and Select claim would deliver a value of more than £360m while creating in excess of 2,000 jobs for the city. A series of public consultations are being held this week ahead of the submission of one of Manchester’s largest ever planning applications, which is expected in January 2016.
This would be followed at a later date by phase two focusing on additional commercial space, public realm and a boutique hotel. The hotel would span 65,000 sq ft and offer between 120 and 150 bedrooms.
Advertising hoardings revealing the name of the development as ‘Circle Square’ have just been introduced around the former BBC Oxford Road site.
Toby Sproll, head of retail at Bruntwood, told Insider: “The Circle Square brand is an intentional contradiction to invite curiosity. The vision is to create a wonderful space. The idea behind the name is that it’s intentionally thought-provoking.
“What we’re after is an exciting, vibrant mix of innovative retailers, food and beverage operators, and amenities. It’s a mixed-use development that requires a range of provisions.
“We’re very much aware of the need to create fantastic collaborative space that will appeal to science and technology businesses, but also creative businesses.”
Perhaps the most eye-catching element of phase 1b is the creation of a park, called the Green, which would be enclosed by the new high-rise buildings and run parallel to Oxford Road. Underneath the park, there would be a 20,000 sq ft pavilion providing additional event space for the city capable of hosting a variety of staged and pop-up events.
Ken Knott, chief development officer at Select Property Group, told Insider: “The amount of land being given over to public realm is very significant. It’s not a token amount.
“The Green can’t just be a bit of ordinary landscaping. It has to be something special. It has to make people stand up and take note. It’s going to be a unique bit of public realm.”
Circle Square represents a new era for the high-profile Corridor Manchester site. The BBC left Oxford Road for MediaCity in Salford Quays in 2011, and following demolition work the site was used as a 563-space car park until the summer of 2015.
Knott said: “Unusually for a project of this size, two-thirds of the masterplan will be delivered in the first four years.
“Bruntwood and Select plan to develop and keep the scheme. The two partners will run it through the planning, the construction, and critically the early years of the finished development.
“The footfall around here is utterly amazing. There’s no project like this anywhere in the city.”
A website has also been launched providing further details about the Circle Square scheme.
Mark Stott, chief executive of Select Property Group, said: “With its unmatched location, superb outdoor spaces and variety of people who will be living, working and visiting, Circle Square promises to become an exciting new community in Manchester.
“Both Select and Bruntwood share a strong commitment to putting customers at the heart of everything we do and we’re confident that the plans being submitted reflect this desire.”
Chris Oglesby, chief executive at Bruntwood, said: “Circle Square will evolve into a fully integrated residential and commercial neighbourhood, contributing to the city’s continued economic and cultural success at the heart of Corridor Manchester.
“It will be surrounded by leading centres of knowledge, art, music and innovation and will offer a compelling reason for existing talent to stay in Manchester, whilst attracting new talent to study, live, work and play here.”