The new owner of Granada Television’s Manchester headquarters has hinted entertainment will remain a part of its regeneration plans for the historic studio.
Allied London — the developer behind the city’s Spinningfields business and retail quarter — acquired the studio site in a £26.5m joint venture deal with the city council. The partnership initially intended to demolish the TV complex, but has now unveiled plans to transform it into a “Miami-style” event hotel.
Work on the Manchester Grande will start early in 2016 and is expected to be the first major project completed on the 13-acre site, rebranded as the St John’s Quarter by the development partnership company Manchester Quays Ltd.
As part of the 200-bed hotel scheme the studio’s four sound stages will be converted to entertainment venues where guests can enjoy free access to live shows. It’s a future, claim’s Allied London’s chief executive Mike Ingall, which fits perfectly with the site’s “rich history”.
“The Manchester Grande event hotel will be the first of its kind in the UK,” he explained. “The hotel is being modelled on the likes of the hotels in New York, Miami and the Far East, where the focus is on food and beverage as well as nightly events including major performance, music, film, theatre and arts and club events.
“The hotel will bring to life the four purpose built integral former sound-proofed studios, where the Beatles played their first ever live TV performance, and the green rooms, dressing rooms and rehearsal rooms will be incorporated into the hotel and entertainment complex,” he added.
Architects Levitt Bernstein Associates has been commissioned to design the hotel complex, which will include four restaurants and a number of bars. There will also be a top-floor members club.
Sidney Bernstein commissioned the original production building in 1954 after Granada secured one of Britain’s first independent broadcasting licences. It was the first specially designed TV studio building in the country and was not only the home of Coronation Street, the world’s longest running television serial drama, but in 2010 was also the location of the UK’s first live General Election debate.
As part of its master plan for the rest of the sprawling site Allied London is proposing a mix of multi-storey residential blocks overlooking the boundary river with smaller buildings, laid out in narrow streets and lanes, housing independent start-up and fledgling businesses such as micro-brewers, bakers and traditional craftsmen.
“With the development of St Johns, we’re creating a new neighbourhood in the heart of Manchester,” said Ingall. “A place that distinguishes itself by its unique cultural history, diverse mix of inhabitants, rich context and its position at the crossroads of Manchester’s network.”
He confirmed the Coronation Street set will be replaced by apartment blocks, but said a number of the studio facilities will be retained including the bonded warehouse and a small building at the Coronation Street set entrance that could become a cultural centre reflecting the site’s past.