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Bruntwood SciTech Gains Approval For £6 Million Transformation Of Historic Manchester City Centre Workspace

News, Manchester City Centre
Bruntwood SciTech Gains Approval For £6 Million Transformation Of Historic Manchester City Centre Workspace

The UK’s largest dedicated property platform serving the growth of the nation’s knowledge economy, Bruntwood SciTech – a joint venture between Bruntwood, Legal & General and Greater Manchester Pension Fund – has had its transformational plans for its historic 117-119 Portland Street building in Manchester city centre approved by Manchester City Council. 

The £6 million project will now see the Grade II listed building become the gateway into Manchester’s innovation district - the Oxford Road Corridor - where forward-thinking, innovation-led businesses can ignite their creative spirit and benefit from access to highly-skilled talent at the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, research opportunities, finance and mentorship, as well as extensive collaboration opportunities within Bruntwood SciTech’s UK-wide community of 1,100 start-ups, scale-ups and global businesses. 

Part of Bruntwood SciTech’s closely-knit neighbourhood of refurbished Victorian warehouses, the workspace will be a central hub for collaboration, wellness and events, creating a vibrant social community for businesses in the building and the nearby 113-115 Portland Street, 127 Portland Street and Oxford Place.

The 35,000 sq ft 117-119 Portland Street will be refurbished into a multi-let workspace, providing a mixture of offices for up to 80 people ranging from 1,200 to 6,200 sq ft, offering a range of options and flexibility for businesses as they grow, particularly those working in the creative, tech and media sectors, where they can weave creativity with community. 

Nine workspaces will also be created which will all be fully fitted, and include a kitchen, meeting room and breakout areas, allowing new customers to move straight in once the works are complete, which is anticipated to be in Spring 2025.

The innovation hub will retain many of its original features, such as exposed bricks and beams, while offering high-quality workspaces with warm, textured interiors - paying homage to its rich history and creating an inspiring space for businesses to grow and thrive. Dating back to 1886, the building was formerly home to Schill Seebohm & Co shipping merchants, who sold Manchester-made textiles and used it as a warehouse to showcase, sell and ship their goods. 

State-of-the-art shared facilities and amenities will also be incorporated into the new-look 117-119 Portland Street as part of reimagining the ground and lower ground floors, including breakout spaces and lounge areas, an on-site gym, boutique gym-quality shower and changing facilities, and an auditorium for events.

Bruntwood SciTech will also improve the sustainability credentials of the historic building, bringing it into the modern age and heightening its appeal to businesses who increasingly are seeking workspaces with strong ESG credentials. To support the building to be net zero in operation in common areas the building will be fully electrified, with heating and cooling provided through new air conditioning and a new air source heat pump. Additionally, new LED lighting will be installed throughout, secondary glazing will minimise heat loss and CO2 monitoring and mixed-mode ventilation will improve air quality and maximise energy efficiency. The building is targeting a minimum EPC B rating, a significant accolade for a Grade II listed building. 

Richard Roper, Associate Director - Asset Management for Bruntwood SciTech, said: “Receiving planning approval for 117-119 Portland Street marks the next exciting phase in our plans to enhance and improve our workspaces across Manchester city centre, where we already have major new developments underway at both our campus locations and other city centre innovation hubs, such as Pall Mall, King’s House, No.3 Circle Square, Citylabs 4.0 and Greenheys at Manchester Science Park. 

“Our cluster of buildings on Portland Street are uniquely positioned to become the connecting junction between the Oxford Road Corridor and our city centre innovation hubs, further supporting businesses to access a city-wide innovation ecosystem. This cornerstone of the city has been lacking investment into creating workspaces that galvanise collaboration, creativity and ingenuity and offer like-minded communities to connect with, so we hope to deliver that at 117 Portland Street.” 

These plans, alongside the announcement of work commencing to redevelop nearby King’s House and Pall Mall, mark Bruntwood SciTech’s latest commitment to Manchester since it announced a further £500 million of funding in October 2023 to support the growth of the science, technology and innovation sectors, and welcomed Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) to the joint venture. Now the largest dedicated property platform serving the UK’s innovation economy, Bruntwood SciTech aims to create a £5 billion UK-wide portfolio that can support 2,600 high-growth businesses by 2032.

Bruntwood SciTech’s agents for 117-119 Portland Street are Canning O’Neill and Savills and the main contractor is CubicWorks. Advisors on the plans are AXI (architects and interiors), Kaizen Consulting Engineers (MEP), Deloitte (planning and heritage), Bespoke Fire Engineering (fire engineer), DW Consulting (structural engineer), Sol Acoustics (Acoustician) and Assent Building Control (building control).

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