Plans to develop a multi-million pound food hall in Urmston that could rival the likes of Mackie Mayor have been tweaked to allow for social distancing.

First announced in 2018 as a £3.5m development, the Market 41 food hall on Railway Road is set to feature a mix of indoor and outdoor eating areas offering customers a selection of 'locally-sourced artisan-quality' food and drink.

Altrincham-based McGoff Group, the developers behind the ambitious project, have now updated the original plans to ensure it remains fit-for-purpose in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The new concept will still feature the food hall at its core but will now also include a series of modular units ensuring a ‘clearer distinction’ between individual operators and outdoor spaces.

The new plans feature 30 ‘contactless’ hotel-style bedrooms on the top floor of the venue.

The overnight accommodation will allow people to self check-in via a dedicated smartphone app.

The developers say these changes will enable social distancing rules to be easily observed should they need to continue in the foreseeable future.

Director at the McGoff Group, Chris McGoff, said: “The way in which we conduct our day-to-day working lives and spend our leisure time has been re-set for the foreseeable future, forcing us not only to re-think how Market 41 will function in a post-pandemic world but also how best to future proof the concept against unforeseeable operational risk should further restrictions or lockdowns present themselves."

The Market 41 food hall in Urmston will feature a selection of 'locally-sourced artisan-quality' food and drink outlets
The Market 41 food hall in Urmston will feature a selection of 'locally-sourced artisan-quality' food and drink outlets

“With an end date for the lockdown in sight, it was time to re-focus our efforts on how best to deliver this exciting new urban food and drink-led destination to ensure it is financially viable, income generative and can function at some level whatever the future holds.

“We have explored different ways to enable the project to be delivered in phases so that as the economy gradually recovers and the project builds momentum we can flex by adding additional elements of the proposed offer.

“Conversely if lockdowns reoccur and the economy contracts, elements of the project can effectively be put into hibernation without having major long term consequences.”

The ambitious Market 41 indoor food hall project has been tweaked in light of the pandemic.
The ambitious Market 41 indoor food hall project has been tweaked in light of the pandemic.

Beauty and lifestyle market stalls have also been incorporated into the new plans, alongside previously-announced mezzanine space for regular pop-ups, artisan markets and events.

Office space, alongside studio and workshop areas, will also provide local start-ups with dedicated workspace within the M41 venue.

“Working practices have changed and city centre commutes are set to be less frequent,” added McGoff.

“We will actively encourage the local professional services and creative sectors to use this environment for relaxed meetings in the food hall or more formal ones in the designated boardrooms while at the same time availing of the market’s super food offering.”

Chris McGoff (centre) on the site of the food hall in Urmston

The redesign will also incorporate environmental and sustainability options with the inclusion of vertical farming, food composting, nutrient re-cycling and in-house local food delivery by bicycle.

“Refocusing our efforts on reassessing the project to ensure it is future proof has taken some time” McGoff explained.

“But we are now confident that we have a business model that is fit-for-purpose and deliverable and look forward to re-submitting it for planning in the not too distant future.”