James Heather: We call it ‘worthwhile use’ because meanwhile feels a bit temporary


Steering the development of a £1.4bn project in the heart of Manchester feels like a huge responsibility, but Mayfield also represents an amazing opportunity.

We’ve got 24 acres that sit within 150 yards of Manchester Piccadilly Station, with a river running through the middle of it.

Apart from the impressive bucolic ruins of the former railway depot situated near the station, the site isn’t much to look at yet. Despite this, it carries a licence for up to 10,000 people and has already played host to major events including Manchester International Festival 2019, Pride, a regular street food market and electronic club nights.

These events are helping us to put Mayfield on the map long before anything permanent is built. When we first started in 2016, we found that only 4% of Manchester’s population knew where Mayfield was. Over the past three-and-a-half years, that’s grown to more than 50%.

We call this approach ‘worthwhile use’ because ‘meanwhile’ feels a bit temporary. Introducing these diverse and exciting operators is essential to creating a place that people want to be in and can feel part of.

It’s hugely important to us that Mayfield stays relevant to its local community. The new park, which will have the River Medlock cutting through it, will be the city’s first in over 100 years. There are also very few places within the city centre where you can actually walk alongside the water. Sitting the park at the heart of the neighbourhood means we’re giving local people a place where they will want to spend their time, whether for work or leisure.

Winning planning permission for the first phase earlier this year was a huge step forward in realising our ambition to create a new urban neighbourhood at Mayfield. In the meantime and as we get ready to start on site, we’ll be introducing more worthwhile uses to engage and entertain the people of Manchester. Watch this space…

You can read more about our plans for Mayfield here.


A version of this article was originally published in The Developer and can be read in full here.