Manchester

The Factory Manchester £110m arts venue approved

Former Granada TV HQ
Image caption Building work could begin at the city centre site within 18 months and The Factory is set to open in 2019

Plans for a new £110m theatre and arts venue at the site of the former Granada TV studios in Manchester have been approved by the city council.

Chancellor George Osborne pledged £78m for The Factory Manchester in last year's Autumn Statement as part of the Northern Powerhouse project.

The 5,000-capacity venue is scheduled to open by summer 2019 but needed to secure a £32m contribution.

Council leader Sir Richard Leese said the project was "very exciting indeed".

It is hoped the economic benefits of The Factory will not be limited to increased visitor numbers.

The council said Manchester's creative economy was also increasingly important and a new, large-scale arts centre is seen as the next critical piece of infrastructure to support the area's "creative eco-system".

It said it has been tasked with finding £32m from "a variety of sources", with "as little public money as feasible" used.


Analysis: Ian Youngs, BBC arts reporter

The Factory is designed to be in a different league to Manchester's other arts venues. It is intended to be a major global venue that happens to be in Manchester instead of London, New York or Berlin.

It is also hoped it will boost the local economy, create jobs, bolster the so-called Northern Powerhouse and provide training.

But the required council contribution is a huge amount in any financial climate, and it will need £10m a year of public money to run. Where will that come from?

Will there be the audience to fill a 5,000-capacity building night in, night out? And will it appeal beyond the culture vultures to the majority of Manchester?

These things will determine whether it becomes a cultural powerhouse or a white elephant.


Image caption ITV sold the former Granada TV headquarters in central Manchester

It will be located in a new area, St John's, which includes the former Granada Studios site in Manchester city centre.

The former Coronation Street set, which has been hosting visitor tours since April 2014, will be removed in early 2016 before the site is returned to developer Allied London.

Image copyright johan persson/Carsten Windhorst
Image caption The Manchester International Festival has hosted Sir Kenneth Branagh and Bjork in recent years

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