Mad for it? They’re livid. Manchester at war over new superclub Mayfield

Bitter battle fought over future of Victorian terminus and parcel depot, which developers want to turn into 'the biggest' nightclub in the world

For passengers arriving at Manchester Piccadilly, the crumbling redbrick arches across the road – the remains of Mayfield station – provide a glimpse of the city’s past. British Rail closed Mayfield to the travelling public before the demise of the steam train, abandoning it altogether in 1986. Since then it has awaited demolition, the site of grand projects yet to be realised.

Now a bitter battle is being fought over the future of the Victorian terminus and parcel depot, which developers want to turn into “the biggest”  nightclub in the world. With a capacity of 7,500, Mayfield will dwarf any venue on these shores. There are clubs that can hold more people in Ibiza, but they make use of outdoor space. The Mayfield would house its partygoers under one sweaty roof. Developers and opponents of the 120,000sq ft space have hired teams of lawyers to argue over the fate of the venue – which would also house an arts space and conference centre – which is before the city council’s licensing committee. It is the first stage of what promises to be a long and expensive battle.

Manchester’s Warehouse Project, which already occupies a 5,000-capacity building outside the city, is waiting in the wings. Among those opposing it is the Project’s present landlord, along with representatives of two student housing companies which will have 1,400 tenants living next door. At the final day of the licensing hearing at Manchester Town Hall today, Philip Kolvin QC, representing Adam Geoffrey Management, and the Unite and Liberty housing companies, described Mayfield as “a decrepit and entirely unsuitable shell”. He criticised plans for the site, and said the developers had failed to draw up policies outlining how they would deal with drugs, alcohol or crime linked to the site. He said that were the operators to introduce a regime to frisk all 7,500 clubbers, it would be “something akin to Heathrow. How many guards or sniffer dogs will they need?”.

“I am hoping that one of the consequences is not death,” he warned. “If this were the germ of an idea for a pizzeria you might get away with it. But to have a germ of an idea for a nightclub of global proportions, you should be seriously concerned.”

Critics say Mayfield will be a huge money-making operation for a company which already has links to some of the most powerful figures in the city’s entertainment industry. Jon Drape, one of the three men behind the bid, is managing director of the Ground Control Group and a director of Ear to the Ground, companies that host events such as the Parklife festival and provide event production for the Warehouse Project, working on behalf of top brands including Bentley, Samsung and the BBC. With tickets for the megaclub expected to cost about £30, a capacity crowd would generate door revenues alone in excess of £5.5m over the 25 nights each year it hopes to be licensed.

Ben Williams, representing another of those opposed to the plan, said the “sheer vastness” of the project put it at odds with public safety. “There is a real risk of this crush effect of those going in and coming out, bearing in mind that many will be under the influence of alcohol. It is simply too big,” he said.

Mr Williams said there was also a “real” risk of contamination from potentially toxic substances within the structure which could “seep through” to clubbers on the ground floor. “Does that not risk harming them?” he asked.

Mr Williams said that at 3.30am when revellers emerged, there would be no public transport available.

For its part, the Mayfield Depot Management Company Ltd (MDMCL), which has hatched the scheme, claims it will create a landmark cultural space akin to the Old Truman Brewery in east London.

The old parcel depot was reborn as a cultural destination earlier this summer during the Manchester International Festival, when it hosted one of the centrepiece events, Massive Attack vs Adam Curtis. There is no suggestion that any of nights were unsafe.

Police initially contested the plan, pointing out that the area had the highest night-time crime rate in Greater Manchester. The vice chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University pointed out that a student drowned after leaving the Warehouse Project on New Year’s Eve, and the club suffered a drug-related death in September. The fire service is concerned about escape routes and poor lighting. Network Rail warned that it will have no staff on hand to cope with thousands of clubbers at 3am.

An MDMCL spokeswoman said it was working with a number of partners but had not made a deal with the Warehouse Project. She said any safety concerns over the building would be addressed in a planning application. “The police will look at each event as it arises and maintain the power of veto. These will be the strictest licensing terms ever imposed,” she said. The committee has five days to decide whether to grant a licence.

Suggested Topics
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvAs the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian on why he'll never bow to critics who habitually circle his work
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey outside Mo Nabbach’s M&M Hair Academy in west London before the haircut
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Keeper flaps at Nasri's late leveller, but Black Cat striker's two goals in 10 minutes had already done damage
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Sport
video
News
Supermarkets are running out of Easter Eggs
Deals make eggs cheaper than normal chocolate
Life & Style
Wasp factory: 1.3 million examples of the Vespa scooter have been sold in the last decade
motoringIconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales
Voices
voicesThe Ukip leader on why he's done nothing illegal
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Senior Infrastructure Consultant

£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...

Public Sector Audit - Bristol

£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books