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The 10 derelict acres in the heart of Manchester that now have a future

The future of Ancoats’ former Central Retail Park looks set to be secure following a major deal with the government.

The council bought the site in 2017 for £37m. In 2019 it ceased operation as a retail park, leading to a protracted battle for its future.




The authority’s initial plans to use the site’s car park as a pay-and-display facility were tabled after a backlash from residents and campaign group Trees Not Cars. Since then, the 10-and-a-half-acre site has been left dormant, with only geese and a DIY skatepark as regular residents.

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Plans to build an office complex and public park were revealed in early 2023, followed by news that Manchester City Council was looking to sell half the site last autumn – with the likely bidder the Government Property Agency (GPA ).

Today (May 15), it was confirmed that the GPA had completed the purchase of half the site, paving the way to build a “state-of-the-art digital government campus” with space for 7,000 civil servants.

What the future site could look like one day(Image: Copyright unknown)

“This is a significant investment which will complement the wider regeneration story that has unfolded in this part of our city center over the past two decades,” council leader Bev Craig said in announcing the deal.

“We have worked closely with the GPA to unlock the potential of the former retail site through this development, which will sit alongside a new council-delivered public green space – improving access to the existing Cotton Field Park.”