Detailed plan for £17.5m tech workspace in Manchester

Developer Allied London and Manchester City Council aim to redevelop a pair of grade II listed market halls for use by tech and digital start-ups. 

Allied London has already completed similar projects in Manchester through it’s ‘Enterprise City’ development, with both Manchester Goods Yard (31,500 m2 / 340,000 ft2) and the Media Building (9,300 m2 / 100,000 ft2) aimed at those working in the digital and tech sectors. 

Photo by Mark Waugh

What’s being called the ‘Campfield incubator’ is an extension of this earlier work. The developer has submitted plans to repair and convert the Victorian market halls at Campfield. This will be paid for through a successful application for £17.5m from the government’s Levelling Up Fund, which was established to improve infrastructure across the country. Manchester City Council received a further £2.2m for other development work: the conversion of three heritage railway arches into a creative talent development centre. 

We reported in January that a legal agreement concerning the Campfield project was entered into by the council and Allied London. Now the developer has submitted its proposals.  

These include converting the Upper Campfield Market Hall building (2,415 m2 / 26,000 ft2) into a digital hub for media and creative businesses, with offices and also film studios and editing suites.  

With the larger Lower Campfield Market Hall building (5,500 m2 / 60,000 ft2), the plan is to provide low-cost workspace for start-up tech companies. Between the two buildings, there will be a minimum of 400 hot desks as well as meeting rooms, event spaces and other facilities. 

In addition, the nearby office block Campfield House (2,900 m2 / 32,000 ft2) will also be redeveloped, though Allied London will pay for this work directly. In total, some 10,870 m2 / 117,000 ft2) of workspace will be provided through the initiative. 

Zerum is planner for the proposed redevelopment, with Project 3 acting as architect. 

The Campfield project gives these impressive, iconic buildings a chance to relive their glory days when they housed thriving business and enterprise. The canopied, open-sided Lower Campfield market hall was originally completed in 1878, and from 1983 to 2021 was home to the Air and Space Museum. The smaller Upper Campfield market hall opened in 1882. The cast iron used in its construction was largely produced by the local foundry, ET Bellhouse.

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