Regenerating Mayfield: Manchester’s Forgotten District

Keeping it green: a natural approach to urban regeneration.

Walking to work beside a babbling river, the sound of birdsong replacing the thrum of traffic. Breathing fresh air while surrounded by nature, but only being five minutes on foot from the city centre. This could not sound further from the everyday experience of city living, but Buro Happold is paving the way to make this dream a reality.

Buro Happold is working with U+I, on behalf of The Mayfield Partnership, to transform a derelict industrial site in the heart of Manchester into a world-class commercial, retail, entertainment and residential hub.

The development represents a brave new approach to urban design and planning, which actively promotes the health and wellbeing of people and planet.

Mayfield development, Manchester
Image credit: Assembly Studios

Buro Happold has been involved with Mayfield since 2009. We were part of the team that delivered the 2018 Strategic Regeneration Framework for the site, and have overarching responsibility for the engineering design as a whole.

John Waiting, Group Director of Cities Systems at Buro Happold

Over the next decade, this masterplan will guide the regeneration of this 24-acre site into a mixed-use development that will create 1,500 homes, 10,000 jobs, 154,800m² of office accommodation, and an exciting blend of restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and independent stores.

Staying true to Mayfield’s industrial past, the historic station, depot and railway arches that characterise the site will form the framework around which this thriving new community will be forged.

Mayfield is defined by its engineering heritage. We are very proud that our integrated engineering approach has been able to unlock the potential of the Mayfield landscape and building assets for U+I and the Mayfield Partnership.

The Park and Phase One will provide the platform for maximising the potential of the Depot and the 21st century workspaces to be created above it. A true example of sustainable urban development ready for a zero-carbon future.

Stephen Jolly, Cultural Sector Lead and Partner at Buro Happold

Buro Happold is playing a vital role in the realisation the development, which will create a 6.5-acre public park on the banks of the River Medlock.

This will be the first new park in Manchester for over 100 years, and the only one in the city centre. Our multidisciplinary team of engineers is working closely with the wider project team to reinvigorate the area and realise spaces both social and secluded in which people and wildlife can thrive.

Mayfield development, Manchester
Image credit: Assembly Studios

Mayfield is one of the first urban developments to make use of a watercourse running through it. Instead of creating barriers around the river, we are opening it up to wildlife and building a public park around it to bring much-needed green space into the heart of the city.

John Waiting

Our green infrastructure and environmental specialists are collaborating with our bridge and transport teams to develop plans that will restore the landscape to its natural beauty, encourage biodiversity, and create attractive parkland for residents, locals and visitors alike to enjoy.

Measures include floodable meadows and designated ecological areas, as well as a sequence of public spaces such as an urban square for events and activities, open greens for sport and play, adventure playgrounds, and quiet places for escape and contemplation.

We have undertaken assessments to understand the diverse flora and fauna that already exist on the site, and used the information to plan a diverse and sustainable habitat.

This insight also enabled us to work closely with landscape architect to inform a planting scheme that will ensure the entire river corridor provides a high-quality ecosystem, while also improving air quality in and around the development.

John Waiting

Also key to our work is planning active transport routes through the park that will link the development to the city beyond.

We are creating a pedestrian pathway that allows people to walk from Mayfield to Manchester Piccadilly Train Station in just five minutes, and connecting the development to the city’s new Beelines network, which will realise the largest joined-up system of walking and cycling routes in the UK.

As well as promoting health and wellbeing, these initiatives are acting as the spearhead for Manchester’s wider commitment to developing a comprehensive Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy that will see high quality natural spaces form integral parts of all city neighbourhoods.

Medlock Park is a milestone project for Manchester, as it delivers on a lot of the city’s aspirations around improving its green and blue infrastructure.

John Waiting

“It also marks a new phase in urban design. Never before has such a large area of prime city centre land been given over to create a public park. Doing so signals a welcome departure from the traditional focus on buildings, and instead promotes the understanding that access to high quality green spaces enhances city living for everyone,” says John.

Phase one of the ambitious Mayfield regeneration scheme is set to kick-off in the Summer of 2020, and with it a bold reimagining of urban living that brings nature, community and wellbeing into the heart of the city.

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