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Trees Are The Answer: Trilogy Unveils Its £300M Solution To The Great Northern Puzzle

Trilogy's greenery-filled plans for the Great Northern

Manchester’s Great Northern Goods Warehouse, Deansgate, has been a disappointment since it opened in 2002.

The 370K SF car park and leisure scheme — sometimes called the biggest corpse in Manchester — has not had a happy time, as tenants and visitors stayed away. Frequent changes of ownership have sometimes left it in improbable hands, such as Anglian Water.

Now Robert Wolstenholme’s Trilogy and Hong Kong-based owners Peterson Group have finally revealed their answer to the Great Northern conundrum after a four-year rethink since the site’s acquisition in 2013. The £300M answer, delivered in a planning application to Manchester City Council, is trees and apartments.

“We aim to play our part in a citywide initiative to bring trees and greenery into the heart of the civic centre," Trilogy Real Estate founder Robert Wolstenholme said. "We’re restoring the historic character of the Great Northern, stripping away the modern structures that disfigure the historic warehouse and making sensitive interventions that are in tune with the quality of the site.

"Alongside our neighbours at St Johns, our vision is to regenerate this underperforming part of the city and create a new urban quarter that will add to Manchester’s building reputation as a world city.”

Across the site, public space will be increased by more than 25%, from around 67K SF to 84K SF.

Great Northern Square has been reimagined to create a new green area that will boost local biodiversity and provide a place for families, local residents and workers to relax. The existing amphitheatre will be covered over, with a lawn placed on top and broad-leaved trees planted.

Under the square, a series of water tanks are proposed to collect rainwater that will provide irrigation for the new trees and sustainable water uses within the apartments.

A new atrium opens up the Great Northern Warehouse space

There will also be a lot of residential on the Great Northern site. Trilogy and Peterson say they see the current use of the circa 500K SF Great Northern Warehouse as a car park as “completely at odds” with the quality and heritage value of the building. Instead the three upper floors will become apartments. There will be an atrium for residents: today the interiors are poorly lit. The ground floor is currently retail/leisure.

Dean Street, a new pedestrian street, will run parallel to Deansgate, providing retail units ideally suited for independent retailers, cafés, restaurants and bars.

Further phases of the £300M transformation are in the early stages of consultation, with plans to deliver the project over the next 10 years.

The plans have been drawn up by a team of consultants that includes master planner Will Alsop’s aLL Design, architect SimpsonHaugh, Altrincham-based landscape specialist Planit-IE and interior architect Johnson Naylor.