Design & Development

Regeneration plan for Old Trafford area advances

Featured image credit: Thomas Foster on Unsplash

Trafford Council has approved the first stage of ambitious plans to regenerate a huge area encompassing Manchester United’s Old Trafford, but has said the Premier League club would need to bear responsibility for financing its stadium vision.

Earlier this month, United welcomed plans to regenerate the area around Old Trafford. Trafford Council 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.

The Council said the project will develop a “high-quality setting” for United as the club develops plans for a “world-class” stadium. A meeting of the Council’s Executive yesterday (Monday) evening has now approved plans for the draft Trafford Wharfside Development Framework and Draft Trafford Wharfside Masterplan to go out to public consultation in the next week or so.

The masterplan offers a vision for the Trafford Wharfside area as a key emerging neighbourhood over the next 15 years. The plan has identified a number of potential development sites and will be used to set an overall strategy to guide future, well designed development in the area.

Councillors were told last night that the vision for Trafford Wharfside is for an area of well-connected communities where all amenities, landmarks and public spaces are easily accessed. The vision supports the Council’s priorities to reduce health inequalities, supporting people out of poverty and addressing the climate crisis, and aims to create a greener, more natural place in which to live and visit.

It will be split into five distinct areas, one of which will be the Stadium District encompassing the “Manchester United area”. Cllr Liz Patel, Trafford Council’s Executive member for Economy and Regeneration, said in a statement: “Trafford Wharfside is an area that will see great change over the next 15-20 years. With the Manchester Ship Canal on one side, it is home to many businesses, existing communities, the Imperial War Museum North and the iconic Old Trafford football stadium.

“We have been working with key partners and landowners Peel, Manchester United and Salford City Council to bring forward plans for the future of this area. These plans will ensure the area is developed with well-designed new homes, green spaces, good transport and walking connections to the city centre and Salford and with the community facilities in place to make it a great place to live and work.

“We want to provide a world class setting for Manchester United’s stadium and greatly improve the visitor experience to the area, making the most of the historical waterfront at Wharfside.”

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos, the petrochemicals company he founded and chairs, last week completed their deal for a minority stake in United, with the closure of the agreement set to allow plans to advance for Old Trafford stadium.

In April 2022, United appointed Legends International and Populous to lead a team tasked with creating a masterplan for the redevelopment of Old Trafford. Following the competition of his deal, Ratcliffe reiterated his desire to build a new state-of-the-art stadium for United, stating it was “time someone built a national stadium in the north of England”.

Ratcliffe also added that there would be conversations with national government regarding public funding for the project.

Patel said a ‘Wembley of the North’-style proposal “would be wonderful”, adding that the Council would look for investment for the Wharfside plans and “saw a role” in “leading, guiding and securing” the funding.

However, she stated, according to the BBC: “How United get together the finances for their own stadium refurbishment would be separate.”

Patel said the Council has worked with United’s planning team to design improvements in the area for fans as part of the overall masterplan.

She added: “We want to create a much more family-friendly space where people want to stay longer and have processional routes so it’s a lot safer for fans arriving on foot from tram stops or walking out from the city centre – as sometimes happens for European matches.”