Revealed: Plans for transformation of Rackhams will be “gamechanger” for Altrincham – and include a 340 sq m living wall

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Bruntwood Works and Trafford Council have revealed plans to transform the former Rackhams building in Altrincham in a development they say will be a “gamechanger” for the town centre.

The plans – which are now open to consultation with local residents – will see the former House of Fraser department store transformed into 37,500 sq ft of commercial workspace, with retail and hospitality operators to take 15,000 sq ft space on the ground and lower ground floors.

Subject to planning approval, works are expected to begin in the autumn. The former Rackhams building closed down on August 31st 2020.

A two-storey extension and outdoor terraces on the first floor also feature in the plans, with active travel and fitness supported through new cycle storage and showers.

The redevelopment plans would see retail and hospitality operators take 15,000 sq ft of space on the ground and lower ground floors
How Rackhams looked on the day it closed in August 2020

The joint venture project, which forms part of the future development of the Stamford Quarter, marks Bruntwood Works’ first Pioneer building outside of the city centre and will look to bring the firm’s blend of workspace, retail and leisure to the heart of Altrincham. The plans support Trafford Council’s work to support regeneration in Altrincham, having invested heavily in a number of projects, including improving the public realm in the town.

The proposed plans, which are subject to planning permission, include a complete redesign of the ground floor, providing an opportunity for hospitality operators to take space that includes outdoor terraces on Stamford Square. A focus on biophilia, which is known to improve wellbeing and sustainability, has also been introduced through a 340 sq m living wall that provides oxygen and helps reduce noise levels as it wraps around the building.

The redevelopment forms part of Bruntwood Works’ £50m Pioneer programme – which is designed to create forward-thinking workspaces centred on six key pillars: biophilia, art, sustainability, wellness, amenity and technology – and has been designed to encourage more people to come into the town centre, helping to support the long-term, sustainable growth of the local economy.

The redevelopment would radically change the appearance of the former Rackhams building, as seen from Stamford New Road
How the same view looks now

Bruntwood Works and Trafford Council – who took over ownership of the Stamford Quarter in October 2019 – are inviting the community to participate in the next phase of the consultation period, and particularly want to hear from local residents and community groups regarding disabled access provision. Drop-in sessions will be taking place at Stamford Square in the Not So Secret Garden on Wednesday 18th August, 12noon – 4pm.

Andrea George, town centre and consumer brands director at Bruntwood Works, said: “As a hugely successful destination in its own right, Altrincham already has all the ingredients for an even brighter future. We want to harness this by creating a blend of retail and leisure with premium workspaces that deliver greater opportunities for the community to come together in one central hub.

“The pandemic changed the way we interact with our high street, boosting local town centres and creating exciting opportunities to redevelop former department stores for new uses. We’re confident the transformation of the former Rackhams store will be a gamechanger for the town and prove an attractive proposition for those looking for workspace outside of the city centre, whilst providing a new and much-needed amenity that complements the existing operators within Stamford Square.”

Cllr Andrew Western, Leader of Trafford Council, added: “Trafford Council is proud of the work it has carried out to help make Altrincham the fabulous and successful centre it is today. We are committed to creating successful and thriving places and having pride in all of our areas across the borough.

“This development would provide a further boost to Altrincham town centre and transform the former Rackhams store into a sustainable and green workspace hub with first-class retail and leisure facilities.”

Bruntwood Works and Trafford Council say they plan to transform the entire Stamford Quarter area into a mixed-use destination making Altrincham “an even better place to live, work and play for local families and the wider community”.

More detail about the plans can be found here.

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