Design & Development

United backs ‘tremendously exciting’ plans to redevelop area around Old Trafford

Featured image credit: Thomas Foster on Unsplash

Manchester United has welcomed plans to regenerate the area around Old Trafford as the club weighs up a major redevelopment of the stadium.

Trafford Council has announced a draft masterplan to redevelop the Trafford Wharfside area, which neighbours MediaCity, over the next 15 years. The Trafford Wharfside Development Framework has been prepared by the council in discussion with United and fellow major landowning partners Peel and Salford City Council.

A public consultation process will be launched in the near future, giving locals the chance to have their say on the plans. The project has identified a number of potential sites and will be used to set an overall strategy to guide “well designed development” in the area.

The plans will celebrate the Manchester Ship Canal waterfront and the Imperial War Museum and create opportunities for up to 5,000 high-quality new homes. Trafford Council said the project will develop a “high-quality setting” for United as the club develops plans for a “world-class” stadium.

Earlier this month, it was reported that British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the founder and chairman of Ineos, would push for a new stadium that would create a “Wembley of the North” as part of his investment in United.

Ratcliffe’s vision for United’s stadium future is said to be underpinned by the belief that the North of England deserves a venue to rival that of London’s Wembley Stadium. Ratcliffe’s £1.03bn (€1.2bn/$1.3bn) deal for a 28.9% stake in the club is set to be finalised later this month. As part of the deal, an additional £237m of initial investment would be made available for Old Trafford.

Ratcliffe, a boyhood United fan, is said to believe that supporters would be in favour of a new stadium on the land immediately surrounding Old Trafford. An expansion of the current 74,000-capacity stadium would reportedly cost at least £800m, with a new stadium having a price tag in the range of £1.5bn to £2bn.

The report on the draft Trafford Wharfside masterplan will be discussed by Trafford councillors at an executive meeting later this month. The plans will be split into five areas: Stadium District, Trafford Wharf, Heritage Quarter, Innovation Quarter and Wharfside Heart.

The plans tie in with the council’s priorities to reduce health inequalities, support people out of poverty and address the climate crisis. It is hoped the project will create a greener, more natural place for people to live and visit.

Collette Roche, chief operating officer at United, said: “This vision for Trafford Wharfside is tremendously exciting and we are proud to be supporting Trafford Council with their ambitious plans for an area with such huge potential.

“We will continue to work closely with the council, and other local stakeholders, on how any future development work at Old Trafford can complement their vision and, most importantly, benefit the local community.”

Councillor Liz Patel, Trafford Council’s Executive member for Economy and Regeneration, added: “The Trafford Wharfside masterplan offers a regeneration vision for a hugely important area within Trafford. This area takes in the world-famous sporting institution that is Manchester United as well as other major sites including the Imperial War Museum and the Manchester Ship Canal.

“Across the water we can see the transformation of MediaCity and we know this area will too see great change over future years. We want to help shape that new development positively through the Trafford Wharfside Development Framework and Masterplan.

“Working with our partners and private developers, we will be looking to create new homes, new neighbourhoods and help create a world-class setting for the Manchester United stadium. This is an exciting time for Trafford – with many major building schemes up and running.”

Old Trafford is the largest club stadium in England but has not been included on the list of host venues for UEFA Euro 2028, which will take place across the UK and Ireland, amid the uncertainty surrounding its future.

In April 2022, United appointed Legends International and Populous to lead a team tasked with creating a masterplan for the redevelopment of Old Trafford. Later in the year, United issued a statement announcing the commencement of a process to consider new investment into the club and a sale. The review also included the redevelopment of Old Trafford.

It later emerged that a demolition of the stadium and the building of a brand-new home was one of the options presented to United. Options to refurbish and expand the stadium were also presented.

In December, Populous backed the construction of a brand-new stadium at the existing Old Trafford site.