Framework for a new Old Trafford

“There is so much potential for Trafford Wharfside, not only to frame a world-class stadium and visitor attraction, but also for new sustainable communities to thrive in a waterfront setting.”
Mark Graham, Director, LDA Design

Unlocking the potential of Trafford Wharfside, the home of Manchester United FC, is the subject of a new draft development Framework, which if approved by Trafford Council will go out to consultation in early March 2024.

The 215-acre site encompasses Imperial War Museum North and the O2 Victoria Warehouse as well as the iconic Old Trafford stadium.

LDA Design is supporting the designer of the Framework, Hawkins/ Brown, on landscape and public realm. The vision is an ambitious transformation of Trafford Wharfside, creating a mixed-use neighbourhood with up to 5,000 new homes.

Connectivity is a key challenge. The site sits at the gateway to Trafford Park, Europe’s largest industrial park. It is fragmented and carved up by wide roads and large junctions. It also overlooks Salford Quays and Media City and there are large numbers of visitors to the Lowry Theatre and Old Trafford Cricket Ground as well. All of these cultural and sporting destinations create their own strong gateways but people are not drawn through the site. Trafford Wharfside has no residential community yet, nor any publicly accessible green space.

The Framework can build, however, on the natural assets of the canal network and its waterfronts, with the Manchester Ship Canal to the north and the Bridgewater Canal. This welcoming and activated waterfront will serve to connect Salford with Trafford. It will help to create a destination that competes on a national and international level, one that makes the most of visits made to Old Trafford Football Club and IWM North.

The Framework establishes six character areas, including innovation and heritage quarters, a stadium district and waterside neighbourhoods. Underpinning the Framework are landscape-led development principles that will facilitate high-quality placemaking. They revolve around a network of safe streets which prioritise walking, and green spaces. Active travel corridors will connect the new community with surrounding neighbourhoods and beyond, to Manchester city centre.

The five character areas for Trafford Wharfside include an Innovation Quarter, Stadium District, Heritage Quarter, Trafford Wharf and Wharfside Heart.
Five character areas outlined in the draft framework including innovation and heritage quarters

A 2.5-acre linear public park will give people access to nature on their doorsteps. There will be a primary school and primary healthcare facility and workspaces. The new community will build a sense of local ownership through engagement in a design process which will include young people and children.

Mark Graham, Director at LDA Design, points out that the powerful presence of the Stadium is let down by the quality of its surroundings. So LDA Design has worked with Hawkins/Brown on plans in the Framework to improve the public realm so that it properly frames the Stadium and the other sport and culture buildings.

“There is so much potential here at Trafford Wharfside, not only to frame a world-class stadium and visitor attraction, but also for new sustainable communities to thrive in a waterfront setting. The placemaking vision creates a greener, more natural place which balances community spaces and visitor destinations,” Mark says. “It is interesting that an area can be studded with internationally recognised destinations and iconic buildings, yet when it comes to being somewhere to live, be a clean slate.”

LDA Design has previously worked with Trafford Council on the Borough-wide design guide and the Empress Conservation Area Regeneration Plan. 

Images taken from the draft Framework. 

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