Manchester’s next neighbourhood

Site and strategic location

The site is located in the heart of the St. Mary’s Parsonage Strategic Regeneration Framework (SRF) area, in Manchester City Centre.   

The SRF recognises the huge regeneration potential that could be delivered by the right quality and type of new development in the area, which is contextual appropriate and enhances the built environment.

The site is ideally located to deliver on the SRF’s objectives, as it sits on a key pedestrian junction that connects the city centre to Salford, whilst also facing on to St Mary’s Parsonage, which connects Bridge Street to the north with Quay Street to the south. The site is also located outside of the Conservation Area and in a part of the SRF that has been identified as more appropriate for additional height.

Map indicating location of The Alberton within the St. Mary's SRF area (denoted in red)

Site context

Alberton House is bounded by Cardinal House to the east, St. Mary’s Parsonage to the south, Alberton Bridge House (car park) to the west and the River Irwell to the north.

Located within Manchester City Centre, it forms part of the St. Mary’s Parsonage Strategic Regeneration Framework (SRF) area. St. Mary’s Parsonage provides a route connecting Blackfriars Street to the north and Bridge Street to the south, which connect to Manchester City Centre and Salford. The Trinity footbridge is also located immediately to the west of the site, which provides an important pedestrian connection across the River Irwell.

To the south is Spinningfields, which has developed as major commercial district, as well as a popular destination for entertainment, culture and shopping. To the north is the remainder of the St. Mary’s Parsonage SRF area, which includes the Parsonage Gardens Conservation Area. Beyond the SRF area is Deansgate and the City Centre Primary Shopping Area.

The site is therefore in a prime location within Manchester City Centre, with easy access to a full range of retail choices, employment opportunities, leisure destinations and transport connections. The Parsonage area itself also benefits from a range of unique assets, including its adjacency to the River Irwell, its heritage assets, and Parsonage Gardens – a unique city centre green space.

The current Alberton House

The existing building is a part 12, part 4 storey office building, which has an L-shaped footprint with its main entrance set back from the street edge of St Mary’s Parsonage.

The 12 storey part of the building abuts the River Irwell on its north western edge and back of house servicing access is provided off St. Mary’s Parsonage along the site’s south western edge. Immediately adjacent to the service access route is the access to the pedestrian footbridge, which is a key connection between Salford and Manchester City Centre.

Despite its highly accessible location, Alberton House is not fully utilised due to its dated configuration and inability to compete with newer commercial office spaces that are being brought forward in the City Centre. 

The building is in need of major reinvestment, including a wholesale environmental improvement through to the mechanical and engineering services, improvement to the quality of commercial office space and overall architectural quality.

The site therefore has the opportunity to be redeveloped into a new highly sustainable building that will make a substantially more positive contribution to the surrounding neighbourhood and city overall.

Heritage considerations

The Second World War resulted in the site and its surroundings being severely destroyed by bombing raids. Following the end of the War, the St Mary’s Parsonage area was completely transformed as a focus of radical redevelopment plans as part of the post-war programme which transformed Manchester. Albert Bridge House (to the west of the site) was built in the 1950s and the construction of Alberton House and Cardinal House followed shortly thereafter in 1973. This resulted in considerable, visual change to the character of the area and riverside views from Salford towards Manchester City Centre. 

Alberton House was designed by the architectural practice of Leach, Rhodes and Walker and since its construction, has since been subjected to various upgrades and internal reconfiguration to accommodate modern office demands. Bruntwood Works has owned the building for decades and commissioned the stainless-steel sculpture (“the Fabric of Manchester”), designed by Claire Bigger, which was erected at the entrance of the building in 2005.

Whilst the site is not a listed building and is not located within a designated Conservation Area, it is situated just outside the boundary of the Parsonage Gardens Conservation Area and within the setting of a number of Listed Buildings. 

Externally, the materiality and form of the late-20th century building is not innovative construction or particularly high-quality design. The building has also been altered and reconfigured over the years internally to accommodate modern office demands and therefore, in heritage terms, the site is considered to be of no heritage significance.

The proposals seek to enhance the site by introducing a building which focuses on enhancing views and the pedestrian environment around the riverside, thereby encouraging activity around the area.

Strategic Regeneration Framework

The site is included in the endorsed St Mary’s Parsonage Strategic Regeneration Framework 2020 (SRF). The vision is to establish Parsonage Gardens as a clearly definable and cohesive part of the City Centre, recognised by its distinctive character and sense of place. It is intended to grow as a commercially-led mixed use neighbourhood, anchored by high quality public space at its heart and a range of leisure and retail facilities to create a vibrant destination that compliments the wider City Centre.

The overarching vision for the SRF area is summarised below:

  • A place where people live, work, relax and socialise – where all Mancunians also have the ability to share in the long term success of the area
  • Thriving and sustainable neighbourhood – embraces Manchester’s zero carbon ambitions and delivers jobs and opportunities for all by building on the existing residential and business communities, as well as being a place for enterprise and innovation
  • Host an eco-system of best in class employment – from global businesses to start-ups and other uses such a residential, hotel, retail and leisure
  • Fully integrated and connected into the wider city – this will draw activity into the area from other vibrant parts of the city centre including Spinningfields, the Primary Retail area, the Central Business District and support the growth and enhanced productivity of the city

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  • Conserve and promote the area’s qualities and characteristics – contribute towards raising the city’s international profile by delivering appropriate density of development, taking into account the city centre’s finite land resources, to ensure the full economic potential of the area is realised
  • Retention and celebration of the area’s special qualities and assets – including heritage assets, public spaces and green & blue infrastructure
  • Focus on maintaining and enhancing the quality of the environment – rebalancing the vehicular access, servicing and operational management arrangement for the existing residential and commercial uses in the area, as a well as review of car parking provision.