We were commissioned to deliver a Development Framework for the regeneration of Wythenshawe Civic Centre. The Civic Centre represents the heart of Wythenshawe, which was conceived as Manchester’s largest housing estate, developed using Garden City principles in the early twentieth century.
The site covers an area of 23,000 sqm and includes a number of existing assets, including the pedestrianised Civic Shopping Centre, the Forum leisure complex, a Metrolink stop, Etrop Court, areas of surface car parking, the existing transport interchange and several other stand-alone fast food and retail outlets. Also included within the Framework area is some existing and under-used former Data Centre office accommodation as well as the former Gala Bingo site and the former Shell site, now cleared.
The Framework, through targeting realistic and deliverable interventions in the short term, seeks to promote the Civic Centre as a vibrant district centre which acts as focal point for retail, leisure and community services where people want to spend time. This in turn will assist in the more permanent regeneration and rejuvenation of the local area.
The regeneration of the civic centre is impeded by a number of challenges, including various barriers, fences, gates and enclosed service yards which blight the perimeter of the site and impede easy access. Visible and physical permeability is also very poor with the activity and vibrancy of the high street is hidden behind the ‘backs’ and service yards of the retail units and by a vast multi-storey car park. The character of the buildings and the public realm is also dated. Shop fronts lack impact and diversity and the character of the high street and public realm does nothing to encourage visitors to linger. The Civic Centre also lacks a sense of place and identity as a destination. There is no focus to the high street and no recognisable place for events and activities to take place.
The proposals are underpinned by a strategy for improved diversification. Proposals seek to reduce the high streets reliance on retail by increasing other creative and cultural uses for community benefit. Beyond meanwhile uses, there is potential to provide permanent places for events, activities and community gatherings and festivals to take place. A public square located centrally would become the focus for such events throughout the year. In addition new pedestrianised streets will provide additional space for street festivals, markets and parades.
Responding to a recognised lack of food offer, the intention is to create a place for local, independent food retailers which would be a combination of grocery items and ready to eat food and drink. In addition to providing a place to eat and drink, it will contribute to improving the evening economy. The masterplan also aims to increase opportunities for local employment and training through the diversification of the high street and the creation of new employment opportunities in IT/ Data technology and Creative Co-working.
The Masterplan will build upon the Garden City principles for self-contained, self-sufficient residential communities with easy and local access to schools, health and community facilities, shops and recreation. Over 1,500 new homes are provided.
Re-balancing the public realm and regaining beneficial use through landscape, amenity and future development aims to address the quality of interstitial space.