City played at the stadium from 1897 until they moved to Maine Road in 1923. The site in Bennett Street, which is now a freight depot, has been earmarked to be developed into housing for decades, but previous plans fell through.
The latest plans for the Olympic Freight Terminal site include a community centre and a pocket park. A community shop offering cheaper groceries is expected to use the purpose-built centre alongside another local group.
Dubbed the Gateway, the development is expected to take around four years to complete and will provide 858 construction jobs with a promise to hire as many local people as possible. Work is expected to start on site later this year.
Kellen Homes chief executive Ian Kelley said: “This is a significant boost for the community, and we are very pleased to be able to now start work on this important scheme. We will be providing quality new homes for local people and creating new jobs, investment and a large area of public green space for everyone to enjoy and benefit from. Kellen builds communities through carefully designed homes and neighbourhoods and I am delighted that this area is set to benefit from this investment and the new homes.”
West Gorton Community Room – hosts activities for toddlers, youths and over-50s – is in talks with the developer about moving into a one-storey building on the site. A local community shop which sells a range of groceries at a pre-agreed price is also expected to use the new building on Bennett Street.
Co-chair Dot Whittaker explained that the group is looking to move from its current home in Haverford Street which it shares with a school. She described the long-awaited development of the site as a ‘godsend’ and said that the prospect of having a new community centre ‘means everything’ to the group.
She said: “We’ve never actually had a place of our own. Previous to the building that we’re in at the moment, we just had a room in a building.
“To have a place of our own means a great deal. We’re nice people in West Gorton – we’re only a small community – and I think we deserve it.”
Previous plans for up to 340 homes on the site which were put forward by Ascena Developments in 2020 were withdrawn last year. In the summer, Warrington-based firm Kellen Homes submitted fresh plans to Manchester council, seeking permission to build 172 houses and 100 apartments.
The latest planning application has now been approved by the local authority. However, none of the new homes will have to be affordable or social housing.
The developer has previously said that the site is ‘heavily contaminated’ which means the cost of developing the land for housing would be particularly high. The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that the developer has entered a legal agreement which would require a contribution to be paid towards affordable housing if the scheme is more profitable than expected.
Labour councillor Amna Saad Omar Abdullatif, who represents Ardwick, said: “The new development in West Gorton will make use of a very challenging site that’s caused a lot of issues for local people over the years. Kellen Homes have worked very closely with local residents groups and the plans now include a new purpose-built community centre that will be a great asset locally.”
Of the 272 homes planned at the Bennett Street site, 100 would be two-bed flats and the rest would be houses ranging from two to four bedrooms in size.
The community hub, which is expected to be managed by a local group, would feature 862 sq ft of commercial floorspace within the one-storey building. A total of 187 trees would also be planted as well as shrubs and a wildflower meadow as part of the plans to create 2,882 sqm of new green space.
The plans also feature 383 car parking spaces and secure cycle storage. Plans to mark the history of the site which was home to Manchester City’s former stadium within the scheme will also be considered later, the application says.