Former Rackhams to be transformed into major new mixed-use development as Trafford Council gives green light

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Trafford Council last night gave the green light for the transformation of the former Rackhams building in Altrincham into a major new mixed-use development called Foundation.

The former House of Fraser department store in the Stamford Quarter – which closed down in August 2020 – will be turned into 50,000 sq ft of commercial workspace and 25,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space on the ground and lower ground floors.

The joint venture between the council and property company Bruntwood Works will result in the first regional Pioneer building.

Bruntwood Works’ £100m Pioneer programme is designed to create forward-thinking workspaces centred on six key pillars: biophilia, art, sustainability, wellness, amenity and technology.

The former House of Fraser department store will be turned into 50,000 sq ft of commercial workspace and 25,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space

The approved plans include a complete redesign of the ground floor, to include a cafe, restaurant and retail that will spill out onto Stamford Square.

A focus on biophilia, which is known to improve wellbeing and sustainability, will also be introduced through a 340 sq m living wall in the central atrium and an external green wall, connecting people and nature and helping reduce noise levels as it wraps around through and around the building.

Other sustainability measures will also be taken including improving the existing insulation and airtightness and limiting the embodied carbon emissions during construction by retaining and reusing the existing structure.

A new two-storey extension will also be created, with an emphasis on creating an indoor-outdoor experience. This will incorporate new terraces on the first floor and a new solar panel system on the roof to help make Foundation a sustainable community.

A gym and wellness area, as well as extensive cycle storage and showers, have also been incorporated into the plans.

Rackhams closed for the final time in August 2020

Foundation will have “multiple” spaces available to retail and hospitality operators within the building and leading out onto the new terraces and Stamford Square. There is also an events programme planned for the square following the success of the Not So Secret Garden.

Cllr Andrew Western, Leader of Trafford Council, said: “Trafford Council has carried out a huge amount of work in Altrincham and we are very proud of what we have achieved. The Council has been at the forefront of the regeneration of the town centre in recent years including our work on the successful Market Quarter, public realm works and Altrincham Business Improvement District.

“The Rackhams building is close to the hearts of people who live in Altrincham and following close consultation with residents we will redevelop it to meet the needs of a modern town centre with a mix of workspace, retail and leisure. This project will help Altrincham become an even more successful town centre and I for one will be delighted to see it take shape.”

The plans include the installation of a 340 sq m “living wall”

Andrea George, town centre and consumer brands director at Bruntwood Works, said: “Altrincham is already a town centre success story, bucking the story of decline that has defined so many of its peers around the country. The pandemic’s lasting impact on where people want to spend more time to work, shop and play locally means there is an opportunity to deepen and strengthen its offering. That’s what Foundation will do.

“It will give Altrincham all the ingredients that the high streets of tomorrow need. By blending premium workspaces, retail and leisure, we’re providing a new and much-needed amenity that complements the existing operators within Stamford Quarter and the wider town centre. We can’t wait to see Foundation take shape and underpin this new chapter for Altrincham.”

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