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Thinking Inside The Box In Ancoats

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Container box office workspace manchester
Not your usual reception desk ... Pollard Yard, Manchester

The property market, like life and physics, is all about equal and opposite reactions. So it is predictable that as office specifications soared over the last decade, the prospect of working in nothing less than a basic steel box becomes increasing marketable.

Pollard Yard, the Ancoats-based creative hub housed in shipping containers, is to more than double in size having let the first 40 of its mostly 160SF units. The 7.2K SF first phase will be joined by another 65 units across 11K SF.

The scheme’s promoters, Bristol’s Meanwhile Creative, also hope to expand the site as an events venue. Its publicity talks of “a destination where individuals and organisations can run regular events, pop-ups and makers markets on site.” It also talks scornfully of the “usual brick and mortar costs” facing the small creative businesses that are their tenant base.

Thinking Inside The Box In Ancoats
Pollard Yard Creative Site Manager Will Gomm

The Pollard Street campus opened in October 2018. The first units filled within a few weeks, Meanwhile Creative said.

Pollard Yard has proved to be hugely popular with micro-enterprise and creative freelancers looking to be part of a supportive, grassroots, creative community in the heart of Manchester and at 18K SF in more than 100 container units, is quickly growing to become the only project of its size in the UK.

“I have never met so many creative and entrepreneurial people all in one space,” Pollard Yard Creative Manager Will Gomm said.

“From graphic designers and video producers to music teachers, recording artists and even tattooists, it’s amazing to have so many people from all walks of life in one space sharing their experiences with each other. I think part of the appeal is the freedom to do what you want with your space, people are able to decorate to their personal spec. Each space is unique.”

Meanwhile Creative said it has invested £1M in the Ancoats site. The business was founded in 2012 and opened its first project on the site of a Bristol police station. It first trialled container units in Cardiff. In total the business manages 133K SF of workspace in 10 locations.

Is improvised office space the future for part of the Manchester tech and creative sector? Or will it slow down progress on more sustainable long-term plans? Join the conversation at MOST: Manchester Office Sustainability and Tech event on 6 November