Factory – a flagship cultural venue for the North – Approved

Factory is a cultural venue like no other in the UK. The £110m Office for Metropolitan Architecture designed scheme, including a £78m contribution from Government, is being developed at the heart of the new St John’s neighbourhood in Manchester. It will provide a flexible, new, world-class facility that can accommodate a broad range of art forms and cultural experiences, allowing Manchester to produce and host innovative and immersive programmes of work that complement existing provision.  

Factory builds on the success of Manchester International Festival and wider growth in Manchester’s cultural scene – including the extension of the acclaimed Whitworth Gallery and the development of HOME – which continues to draw a strong and diverse audience base to the city. In turn the cultural offer drives benefits across a range of areas including a growing visitor economy, an expanding cultural business and employment base, residents’ health and well-being and education. Culture already plays a significant role in the Manchester economy – as shown by ekosgen’s review of the impact of existing cultural organisations across the city – and Factory will provide a catalyst for such benefits to continue to grow.

ekosgen worked with the project team to develop Factory’s full business case for consideration by Treasury. The 120 page document was structured around the Green Book five case model and brought together extensive evidence of both the need to intervene and the opportunity the scheme offered to the economy of Manchester, the North and the UK as a whole. Demonstrating that Factory will deliver a strong return on investment and has the management structures in place to effectively deliver and then operate such a large scale and high profile development were two of the core considerations throughout the commission. ekosgen team members also responded to queries raised by DCMS and Treasury and attended scrutiny sessions to ensure that the proposition progressed smoothly through the assessment process.

Last week it was confirmed that Treasury has approved the full business case, unlocking public investment, and planning permission has been secured. These important milestones place the scheme in a strong position to proceed. The ekosgen team is now looking forward to seeing the scheme on-site and attending our first event when Factory opens.