The Factory, Manchester’s proposed £110 million arts venue, could fuel a ‘creative eco-system’ in the heart of the city, according to a report by Manchester City Council (MCC).

Slated to start construction in 2017, the new, ‘ultra-flexible’ building will accommodate a range of art forms on the site of the city’s old Granada Studios.

MCC, currently seeking an architect for The Factory’s design, believes the space will help create 2,500 jobs and add £138 million a year to Manchester’s economy within a decade of its opening.

It hopes the versatile venue – which must be capable of transforming from a 2,200-seater theatre to a 5,000-capacity standing arena – will attract other creative industries to the area.

Granada Studios
The Factory is part of the wider regeneration of Manchester’s Granada Studios

‘The Factory will be internationally significant – the cultural anchor for the next phase of economic and cultural regeneration in Manchester, Greater Manchester and beyond,’ says MCC leader Sir Richard Leese. ‘It will help power Manchester and the wider region towards becoming a genuine cultural and economic counterbalance to London.’

Once open, the arts space will host site-specific works in addition to an ever-changing programme of events, exhibitions and performances.

MCC is developing the scheme in partnership with Allied London and hopes to decide on a winning design for the venue by mid-November. It expects to submit a planning application by May 2016 and the building to be ready for July 2019.

Existing studio at Old Granada Studios
An existing studio at Granada Studios

The Factory forms part of the wider St John’s development – master-planned by SimpsonHaugh and Partners (formerly Ian Simpson Architects) – which will establish a new creative quarter in Manchester.

Based around the former Granada Studios site, the regeneration project will create 3,000 new homes, 73,000 sq m of offices, 13,000 sq m of hotels and retail space as well as 15,000 sq m of performance spaces.

The Factory also feeds into the government’s Northern Powerhouse drive, which aims to realign the cultural and economic balance between London and Manchester.

Granada Studios joins the BBC Television Centre in a long line of former television HQs set for transformation.

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