Bruntwood: Pioneering the Future of Manchester

| Leanne Forshaw Jones

Canning O’Neill is proud to work with Bruntwood and Bruntwood SciTech, helping both companies to promote buildings in their significant property portfolios across the city. In this article, we talk to Bruntwood SciTech’s Associate Director Joshua Hancock who talks about the company’s plans for future workspace.

Bruntwood’s roots in Manchester run deep, and our commitment to this city has only grown stronger over the years. We started as a family-run business, and those values still guide us today.

Our legacy is built on our work in revitalising overlooked and neglected assets, investing in them to meet the needs of the current market, nurturing them for the long term, and creating spaces that we and our customers can take pride in. That legacy also extends beyond property management, with many collaborations with Manchester City Council that has resulted in enhanced public realm surrounding our properties – contributing to the betterment of the entire city.

It’s led to some interesting success stories; Bruntwood SciTech offers a diverse range of spaces, catering to a variety of needs, from pay-as-you-go co-working areas to serviced and leased offices, as well as entire buildings. This versatility has attracted businesses of all sizes – from the globally-renowned Microsoft to the homegrown Manchester International Festival, which began in one of our buildings on Blackfriars Street but has since flourished and established its iconic new base at Aviva Studios.

Time for change

But the key in commercial property development is agility and that’s why we’re keen to continue to invest to help more businesses call Manchester their home. We recently addressed this with a £500m investment into Bruntwood SciTech from Bruntwood, Legal & General, and our new partners, Greater Manchester Pension Fund. We’re now the UK’s largest commercial developer that focuses on growing the innovation economy.

Right now, that portfolio comprises 43 buildings across three million square feet, which accounts for approximately 15% of the local market. Additionally, our partnership with ID Manchester and Manchester University, covering around 1.2 million square feet, promises a bustling pipeline of developments. These portfolios help us appeal to the thriving science, education, and tech ecosystem within Manchester. One of our standout projects, Circle Square, houses companies like BAE Systems, and we have more exciting deals in the pipeline.

The location of this portfolio helps too; standing on the Oxford Road corridor leading all the way up to Manchester Science Park, each building is a base from which customers can access to a vibrant and relevant network. Canning O’Neill are a part of this, helping market our buildings on Portland Street and Oxford Road, for example.

The location also strengthens Bruntwood SciTech, and our occupiers’ links with the universities which are in this part of town. Many graduates choose to stay in Manchester, making our properties in this area essential for recruiting prospective employees. That’s further bolstered by our deals and partnerships with the likes of UA92; another of our valued occupants, UA92 has expanded its footprint by 35,000 sq ft to accommodate a growing campus helping to bridge the skills gap, which Bruntwood is proud to host.

An eye for detail

The networks we plug our customers into is of course a strong selling point, as too is the quality and design of our spaces. Our approach is rooted in six key pillars; sustainability, technology, biophilia, art, amenity and wellbeing, and fulfils our commitment to being the first company to sign up to the UK Green Building Council Net zero programme. It is underpinned by our ‘workplace revolutionised’ ethos which embeds physical and mental wellbeing into daily lives.

Through this approach we have invested ahead of our time to create spaces that prioritise wellbeing and cater to the evolving needs of our tenants – replacing tired traditional office spaces with welcoming environments that leave a lasting impression on visitors.

Recognising that 80% of Manchester deals are for spaces under 5,000 square feet, we continue to revamp smaller properties too, such as 117-119 Portland Street – for which Canning O’Neill is agent. When revamped, this building will offer high quality, creative workspaces as well as wellbeing and gym facilities, and meeting and collaboration rooms.

A sector-led approach

Another appealing aspect of Bruntwood SciTech’s offerings is our ability to cluster our buildings and provide shared amenities to customers. For instance, buildings on Portland Street are part of our West Village portfolio, and customers can freely utilise various amenities within the cluster. We’re due to add a ‘free to use’ gym and studio and across the wider portfolio, we have worked closely with renowned fitness brands like Les Mills and Form, providing alternative fitness studios, enriching the experience for our occupants.

Keeping our community connected

Harnessing community across this portfolio is achieved through our Bruntwood app which serves as a valuable tool for customers to access information not only about their building – but across the Bruntwood network. We’ve appointed dedicated teams to organise events across our portfolio, which are shared through the app, helping customers to connect with potential clients and suppliers. This approach exceeds the expectations of traditional office spaces and provides added value that modern customers seek.

We’ve invested a significant effort into our spaces, and it’s crucial that this commitment is effectively communicated to the market – that’s where partners like Canning O’Neill come in, helping us reach customers and share the innovative work we’re doing. They understand our portfolio and the cluster concept, which resonates with prospective occupiers.

Ready for the future

But what lies ahead? The commercial landscape has evolved significantly in recent years, and while Manchester thrives, we aim to continue investing here while preserving our original family values and infusing new ideas.

That includes projects like No. 3 Circle Square on the Oxford Road Innovation Corridor; emerging from the success of other schemes in that area, it represents our commitment to innovation. We’re also working on our next major project, Pall Mall on King Street, a £25 million refurbishment that will bring 90,000 square feet of space to the market in 2025. This project is an example of our approach to revitalising long-vacant properties, making them suitable for long-term and sustainable use, prioritising occupiers’ wellbeing, and collaborative potential.

We’ve recently launched Bond – our newly renovated former Victorian bank located on Mosley Street – right in the heart of the city centre. It’s an incredible space, originally being built for the Manchester and Salford Bank in 1862. Now Grade II listed, we’ve seamlessly blended the old and the new to showcase features like the impressive double height banking hall, which will be home to a new restaurant offering for the city centre. Already shortlisted for two awards by the end of 2023, and more to come, we’re excited about what Bond can offer to innovation-led businesses.

In essence, our mission is to lead change and create sustainable spaces where all businesses in Manchester, whether they’re just starting or at the pinnacle of their growth, can thrive.

Bruntwood and Bruntwood SciTech’s legacy is built on transforming the cityscape and shaping the future of workspaces. We’re proud to have partners like Canning O’Neill on board as we move forward with our journey.