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Manchester development update south east central area June 2007

The face of Manchester is constantly changing, with new buildings under construction practically everywhere you look. For over 10 years now, the city has been in continuous development and the process continues. This is the first of a series of updates in which I take a look at what's happening in various parts of central Manchester and Salford, starting with the area to the south and east of the city centre.

Manchester University SCAN building under construction

My definition of central Manchester takes in an area roughly a mile in radius from the midpoint of the city centre. To the south it extends along Oxford Road, to the south east along the A6 and to the east up to Great Ancoats Street.

Within this relatively small area there is a huge amount of construction work going on. Here's a summary of what I have observed out and about today and over the past few weeks.

Construction of new university buildings between Oxford Road and Upper Brook Street is well advanced. On the site of the old Maths building, a striking new building with a cylindrical shape has appeared. The outer shell remains to be applied.

On the Upper Brook Street side of the campus, a series of new rectangular buildings jut out into the street, reminiscent of the Civil Justice Centre, nearing completion in Splnningfields.

There is a new high rise building in the middle of the site which should give some good views over Manchester, making up for the loss of the Maths building.

The new extension to the Royal Northern College of Music near nearly complete. It is in contemporary rectangular minimalist style and has a strong presence.

On Grosvenor Street, a new building has appeared two doors down from the former Deaf and Dumb institute. This new building pleasingly picks up the yellow coloured stone of the Victorian institute, combining a traditional colour with a contemporary look.

Manchester University North campus - former UMIST - remains unchanged but continuing onto Whitworth Street, the site is being cleared for new construction on the car park on the corner of Princess Street. Whatever appears will have an impact on the character and feel of the Gay Village.

Over on Oxford Street, the Odeon Cinema is still there. What maybe could have been a major music venue for Manchester is due to be demolished soon to make way for a medium-rise office building.

One of the areas with the most intense activity is around Piccadilly Place, just across from Piccadilly Station. 'The Hub' a new development of offices and apartments is slowly taking shape on an area which many years ago was a canal basin.

Next to this site, on Aytoun Street, the venerable Department of Employment Building, a very pleasing example of early 50s architecture, awaits its fate. On this site, the Albany Tower is set to be built.

Another skyscraper-in-waiting is the Inacity tower on the site that's currently a car park behind 'The Place' former London Warehouse. Both these towers will probably change this part of the city centre beyond recognition, though it's difficult to visualise exactly how.

I advocate much greater use of computer modelling in the planning process, so we can get to see how the city will look after construction of new buildings.

On London Rd, renovation of the former BT building is in progress. This 1970s-style building is to become a hotel.

A new building with a two-tone striped exterior is jutting up into the skyline above Mill Point. This is another residential building in this still quite run down area, which still has active industrial units.

Dale Street and site of building destroyed by fire

The building on Dale Street recently damaged by fire has now been demolished. The adjoining building, stonework still black from the industrial era - it was never cleaned and looks very attractive - is partially damaged, but still standing.

Mayfield Station remains derelict and mostly empty. What is to happen with this site, remains to be seen. I would like it to become a railway station again.

That's just a small sample of what I've seen on recent walks around this part of the city. Relevant images will be added in stages.

In the next update, I will be reporting on what's happening in another part of the central area, with more photos and observations.

Written by Aidan O'Rourke
Posted/Updated 2007-06-04

Aidan O'RourkeAidan O'Rourke has been active in photography and online media since 1995. He has documented the development of the local area in his Eyewitness website (1997-2005) and as a contributor to books, publications and the Manchester Evening News. He runs his Eyewitness photography walks in Manchester, Liverpool and other locations. He offers one-to-one tuition in Photography and Languages. He is a high-level speaker of German and can offer photography walks and tours through the medium of German. Visit www.aidan.co.uk

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