Plans for a new 20,000-capacity indoor arena next to the Etihad have been enshrined in the council’s new draft vision for the area – as well as potentially a multiplex cinema.
The latest high-level planning blueprint for Eastlands formally confirms suggestions first reported by the M.E.N. last year that a large entertainment venue could be on the cards for the neighbourhood.
It says investors are currently drawing up a ‘detailed business case’ for such an arena, ‘with a view to selecting a site in Manchester’.
The Etihad would be suitable location, it says, highlighting ‘significant growth’ in the entertainment market.
Were a new venue of that size to be built, it would be likely to directly compete with Manchester Arena in the city centre, which has a capacity of 21,000.
Operators SMG have already expressed strong concerns about such a move, warning the council earlier this year that it could have a ‘devastating’ impact on city centre hospitality, retail and events.
But the latest Eastlands regeneration framework, currently out to consultation, suggests a rival arena by the Etihad could be viable as part of a wider expansion of entertainment attractions in the area.
“International investors and operators see Manchester as one of the few cities in Europe with the ability to successfully host more than one large arena,” it says.
“It is known that these investors are evaluating locational options and are addressing the detailed business case for such an investment with a view to selecting a site and bringing forward detailed development proposals later this year.”
It adds: “One such opportunity is for a new large indoor arena with a capacity in excess of 20,000 spectators.”
The document says Eastlands must be judged against the availability and suitability of sites within the city centre, but goes on to say the Etihad Campus has ‘the capacity to respond to and host significant new opportunities for a globally competitive leisure and recreation offer’.
“If secured this would deliver key benefits to residents through investment and jobs.”
‘Robust’ transport planning would be required, it says, as well as work to ensure residents in the local area are not disturbed.
The document also highlights – more than previously – the potential for creative businesses and other entertainment attractions near the Etihad.
Beswick, near the Etihad, which has already seen significant new housing development (Image: Manchester Evening News)
That could include a new multiplex cinema, it says, as well as space for digital start-ups to set up their base.
And it highlights, for the first time, the need to consider affordable housing in the plans to expand Manchester city centre out towards the stadium.
A mixture of new homes must be made available, it says, including enough for those on ‘very low, low and below average pay’. While not referring to the number of affordable homes planned – or what proportion they would make up – it says land around Eccleshall Street in Clayton had been identified as being suitable.
Manchester council’s existing housebuilding partnership with Abu Dhabi United ‘must’ also be extended to social landlords, it says, but goes into no more detail.
Source: Manchester Evening News