Current residents, visitors as well as key business and political figures in the city spoke out in favour, although in some cases there were caveats to their approval.
3,200 New Homes for Salford Quays
The proposals include 3,200 more homes, 300 new hotel rooms and 800,000 sq ft of commercial space.
A six-week public consultation will kick in after Salford city council’s cabinet rubber stamps its approval of the new Media City Development Framework on Tuesday (October 10).
Peel Media and major investor Landsec are revamping and amending previously approved plans going back to 2016.
The Future of Salford Quays
Salford Quays is already home to 1.4 million sq ft of offices and upwards of 1,100 homes delivered after initial plans were signed off back then.
But now, a report to the cabinet says the amount of future commercial space planned has increased by 375,000 sq ft from 430,000 sq ft to 807,000 sq ft in the new plan.
The number of homes will rise by 1,987 from 1,213 to 3,200. Around 90,000 sq ft of retail and 300 hotel rooms are also planned.
When I Love Manchester visited the Quays we found Jack Ozturk, a 20-year-old student enjoying an al fresco coffee.
Jack lives in nearby Eccles but is a regular visitor to MediaCity.
“It’s great here during the day and at night,” he said. “The vibe is fantastic, and if they want to put more housing here and more businesses, it can only be a good thing.”
One woman who did not wish to be named said: “Compared to what was here before MediaCity came here, it’s so much better.
“I own a property here, so from my point of view, more residential accommodation here can only be beneficial.”
Toby O’Sullivan, 42, has lived on the Quays since 2007 when he bought his apartment.
“They’ve been talking about this for years. It’s great if more people come to live here. It’s a blank canvas because there is so much land.
“There is an excellent bus and Metrolink system, but the Lowry shopping centre does struggle. So more people might help increase the number of units that open. The place is definitely something of a tourist attraction, also.”
Terayia Stepleton is a 20-year-old student at Salford University’s Quays campus, studying broadcast journalism.
“I find it very exciting coming here. I’d love to live here, but I worry about it being too expensive.”
Jennifer Watters, 23, is a BBC apprentice in radio journalism and was visiting MediaCity from her base in Lincoln.
“I find it very intimidating here,” he said. “I am from a small place in Lincolnshire and I don’t think I would like to live in a place like this. But clearly, it’s a great place to work if you’re in the media.
Salford Quays ward’s Liberal Democrat Coun Alex Warren gave a guarded welcome to the plan but warned against the ‘further citification’ of the site without the ‘desired green space’ and essential services for residents.
“If there is a large amount of housing, it could destroy the original idea of the Quays as a commercial entity,” he said.
“What we’ve already got at the Quays is a lot of hotels and homes, and it looks like that’s going to increase.
“Our [the Lib Dems] concern for the existing residents is that there is not enough green space, and services like schools, dental and medical practices for the further citification of the area.
“This is basic stuff that even the Victorians got right. I applaud regeneration and investment, but I would like it to be done in the right way.”
Other main changes from previous plans include ‘increased density’ for both residential and office development within the remaining MediaCity phases and less car parking designed to reflect the current reduced demand as a result of post-pandemic work-from-home practices.
The report says: “Fewer people are in the office 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday, footfall has fallen and office space is being used differently.
“Higher quality experiences are demanded by workers with the choice of being home. MediaCity has embraced this change and has encouraged independent retail, food and beverage providers to move in.
“That said, more people working from home means fewer people on site so there is a need for an effective scale and balance of uses.”
Salford City Council’s Conservative opposition group leader Coun Robin Garrido spoke in favour of the plan.
He said: “I accept the fact that the plan has changed over a period of time and that they have to integrate the residential element with commercial space because more people are working from home.
“I am all in favour of linking employment opportunities with residential.”
However, he said that one thing he was very keen on was that there should no more high-rise apartments.
Coun Garrido continued: “We don’t want any more apartment blocks. We want houses where families can live and work.
“If we want life back at Salford Quays, we want areas not just for single people or young couples where families are excluded. It’s time to bring families back in, so we need more townhouses, semi-detached houses, and so on to bring communities back into Salford.
“It’s a major part of the city and we have to integrate those communities. There is a bad feeling that they have not been part of the Salford Quays and MediaCity development. Local people should be included in the development process and this is key.”
The Salford Quays Masterplan
Peel Media commissioned business organisation Deloitte to give planning advice and Prior and Partners were ‘masterplanners’, while TTHC have advised on movement and transport.
Meanwhile, business leaders have weighed in to praise the new plan. The Federation of Small Businesses Greater Manchester business development manager Robert Downes said: “We know there’s a real shortage of homes with too few currently being built, so to see the addition of such significant new residential development is good news.
“Exactly what type of homes they will remains to be seen, but during the pandemic it became evident very quickly that one or two-bedroom flats are not the best places for people to spend too much of their time. And with more people wanting to work from home, that’s something developers and policymakers need to address.”
He also said it was ‘fascinating’ to see that commercial space looks set to get a huge bump from what was initially planned.
“You would like to think it will be a broad mix because at the moment there’s actually not that much to see or do in MediaCity if you live there,” he said.
“A short trip to Manchester, Stretford, or beyond is required for most activities from shopping to hospitality and anything else in between.
“It would be good if any new major development in MediaCity seeks to bring a bit more heart and soul to the area, and really help create a community for all ages.”
Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Approve Plans
Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce has also signalled its approval. Its deputy director of research told the LDRS: “It is good to see that plans are being made to cater for future demand in this area.
“The development should help to address the housing shortage in Greater Manchester and the creation of commercial space sends a positive signal to businesses and investors.”