£110m city-centre arts venue recommended for approval by planners

The futuristic multi-use arts venue designed by Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture has won planning from Manchester city council.

The £110m Factory venue, named in honour of legendary music label Factory Records, is earmarked for part of the former Granada Studios site on the edge of the city centre and is being jointly developed by the council and developer Allied London.

It is designed to bring together a 2,300 capacity theatre and a separate 5,000-capacity warehouse space for “immersive” events on part of the former TV studios site, which also incorporates grade II listed railway viaduct that would need to be altered for the scheme.

The Colonnaded Railway Viaduct currently hosts the 450 sq m Starlight Theatre, built for Granada Studios in the 1980s. The corrugated steel theatre building would be removed as part of the development.

Gardiner & Theobald is cost consultant and employer’s agent, Buro Happold is structural and civil engineer, Arup is acoustic engineer and WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff is fire engineer.

It had been recommneded for approval by planning officers who said the 13,500 sq m scheme would bring a “major new cultural facility” to the St John’s regeneration area and create new jobs. They added: “The proposed scheme is a unique, high quality design of its time.”

OMA beat a high-profile shortlist of Zaha Hadid, Diller Scofidio & Renfro, Haworth Tompkins, Bennetts, Grimshaw, local practice Simpson Haugh, Dutch firm Mecanoo and Rafael Vinoly to win the project in 2015.

The council’s minister for digital and culture, Matt Hancock, said: “I want to blast open access to the very best world-class art and culture we have to offer in this country. So we’re investing £78 million into Factory in Manchester that will provide a further boost to the brilliant arts, culture and technology scene in the North.”

Arts group Manchester International Festival, whose chairman is Urban Splash founder Tom Bloxham, will run Factory. The festival is held every two years with the next one taking place this summer.