Circle Square

A million miles from ordinary: Aisling McNulty talks Circle Square at Business Desk event

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A diverse and unique community in the heart of Manchester, Circle Square will be a new city-centre neighbourhood located on the city’s Oxford Road; a place where curiosity and opportunity combine to enable the extraordinary.

This is the exciting vision Bruntwood’s development surveyor Aisling McNulty talked about at Business Desk’s Property Professionals Lunch. She told delegates about the ambitious plan for Circle Square, which will see the 2.4m sq ft landmark site transformed into a new neighbourhood on Oxford Road, at the heart of the Corridor Manchester Innovation District, surrounded by world-leading academic and cultural centres of excellence.

As part of a joint venture between Bruntwood and Select Property Group, the development will deliver a mix of retail and leisure that, in conjunction with the buildings and spaces between them, sparks curiosity and creates an environment in such a way that the place becomes extraordinary.

Ingredients such as active frontages, interaction and use of the public realm will be vital to ensure the neighbourhood becomes a place where those living, learning and working will wish to collaborate and thrive.

Here we take a look at the areas Aisling covered at the event, including the commercial workspace available, as well as the retail and leisure, residential apartments and beautiful green space at the heart of the new city centre neighbourhood.

How will the former BBC site be transformed?

Back in March 2015, Bruntwood acquired the former BBC site on Oxford Road with plans to transform it into a £750m commercially led mixed-use development scheme. Select Property Group, a well established residential developer, was chosen as a joint venture partner to deliver the residential element of the scheme. Bruntwood and Select worked with master planners Planit and architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios to create a place that would attract interesting people from backgrounds, ensuring that the rich and diverse nature of new businesses and people will complement those for which the area is already famous.

More importantly, Circle Square introduces a much needed open, inviting green space at the centre of the development in which people can work, shop, live and relax. Natural lawned areas, trees and parks which are currently few and far between in the city.

Delivered over three phases, the joint venture will spend over £750m on the masterplan for the site, which includes over 1m sq ft of commercial office space, 1,281 new homes and 100,000 sq ft of ground floor retail and leisure space for shops, studios, bars and restaurants. A multi-storey car park and two hotels will provide additional amenity to the site.

And all of this is centred around the 250,000 sq ft of beautifully designed public realm with over a thousand plants and flowers and 180 semi-mature trees, and the green which is close to the size of four football pitches.

What stage is the development at?

Significant development work is already on site with a new addition to the city centre skyline rapidly taking shape. The first phase of the development work, featuring Select Property Group’s award winning brand Vita Student is on course to practical completion later this year with 604 high quality student apartments, of which over 70% are already let.

The development will provide a mix of amenities as customer feedback and insight is used to guide the design and to adapt it to their needs and requirements. To give an example, Vita Student at Circle Square will include duplexes and cluster apartments responding to recent requests from customers. It will also include more study rooms and more innovative amenities.

Works for the next phase will commence later this year. At that point on site there will be:

– Two commercial buildings totalling 400,000 sq ft,
– Two residential buildings providing 677 apartments
– The associated retail & leisure
– The MSCP & hotel
– 95% of the public realm

All of these will be completed within six months of each other in late 2019 early 2020. This will see two-thirds of the entire scheme delivered within five years of acquisition.

What is the residential element of Circle Square?

Select Property Group will deliver the residential element of the development, and it will take the form of its successful Affinity Living product which is a living space that becomes a lifestyle nurturing growing urban communities.

The brand offers a vast range of amenity spaces for people to meet other like-minded people. It’s a living space that becomes a lifestyle delivering a vibrant community to those who actively choose city centre locations. Created for the social Generation the buildings integrate a suite of amenities that go far and beyond.

What is the commercial element of Circle Square?

Architecturally, Circle Square is beautiful – it has been designed in a way which takes inspiration from Manchester’s proud Victorian past- a time of innovation and invention – which resulted in a style of grand warehousing with glazed terracotta tiled facades, and excellent examples of these buildings can be found throughout the city today.

Architects Feilden Clegg Bradley have modernised this concept to create commercial spaces which have a lofty contemporary industrial feel. Circle Square recognises that the world of working and living has changed. People and businesses want to collaborate, learn and share and Circle Square’s designs are responding to this by creating the space to allow for ideas to flourish – providing coworking areas, small studios and social spaces. The aim is to provide the flexibility and range of product to support businesses of all shapes and sizes to develop and grow.

The commercial buildings will provide sustainable office space designed with technology and wellbeing in mind.

How will a community be built?

Circle Square will be brought to life with a programme of events curated, designed and delivered by the joint venture. This approach will dovetail with internal events being run in each building, and in the commercial buildings these will be managed by a dedicated Community & Events Manager. This is an approach which Bruntwood is successfully delivering at other developments such as Neo and Platform, and is an approach partners Select also take at their Vita developments.

The development aims to integrate with wider communities too, and Circle Square’s programme of events will help attract a diverse range of people to the site. The quality of the location, the variety of characteristics in the scheme and varying unit size will enable discussions with a range of quality end occupiers. While the scheme cannot be all things to all people, the variety of spaces, public realm and texture of Circle Square will bring and support the vibrant mix and sense of place that the development is striving for.

Circle Square

Want to know more?

For further details on Circle Square, Manchester contact