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Stimulating an engineering-led masterplan for mammoth innovation park in Greater Manchester

Tameside Council | Walker Sime Ashton-under-Lyne
Ashton Moss Hero


One of the largest undeveloped sites in Greater Manchester


Has the potential to deliver large-scale modern employment space


Social value delivered by Hydrock

We acted as the lead multidisciplinary consultant stimulating an engineering-led masterplan aiming to bring forward a coherent development framework for one of the largest undeveloped sites in Greater Manchester.

Forming part of the Ashton Mayoral Development Zone, Ashton Moss Innovation Park has been identified as one of the priority areas for growth across Greater Manchester.

Tameside Council are working with landowners on one of the biggest employment areas in the borough to explore ways to develop the location into a beacon of digital and health manufacturing.

We acted as the lead multidisciplinary consultant with the goal to stimulating an engineering-led masterplan that will be the catalyst for a coherent development framework which is vital to ensuring opportunities are driven forward and to realise the site’s full potential.

Our engineering-first approach set out the types of uses that will be suitable and best meet future needs, alongside transport, social and any green infrastructure requirements.

Ashton Moss presents us with a fantastic opportunity to build on our strengths and heritage in the manufacturing industry and develop an employment site that would bring unprecedented benefits to the local economy by creating jobs and attracting talent, cutting straight to the heart of our ambition for inclusive growth across the borough

Cllr Jack Naylor
executive member for inclusive growth, business and employment, Tameside Council.

Unlocking constrained land

Over the next five years, the area expects to see a 14 percent increase in 5–19 year olds and a 16.5 percent increase in 35–44 year olds.

This means there’s going to be a growing working age population immediately around the site, highlighting the importance of a development that can positively create opportunities by providing means for inclusive growth within the knowledge economy sectors including digital and creative, health and advanced manufacturing.

Led by our strategic projects team, we conducted heavy due diligence at the site and identified ways to overcome any constraints involved whilst developing robust engineering solutions which address the ground conditions, infrastructure requirements, site levels, drainage and the remediation of the site — all of which impact the viability of developing the site true to the overall vision.

An integrated gap analysis

Our role covered providing strategic evidence spanning acoustics, geotechnical and land quality, transport, infrastructure, flooding, drainage, utilities and sustainability.

As the site’s been inactive for commercial use for many years it has huge volumes of unclassified waste materials discarded from the adjacent M60 and surrounding retail parks when they were constructed.

The presence of waste material on top of the area's typical peat soil creates a unique challenge for designing cost-effective and efficient building platforms (earthwork plateaus). To address this, our civil engineers ran multiple computer models that simulated different scenarios for digging up and moving soil (cut and fill) while aiming to minimise the total amount of earthwork needed.

Due to the difficult ground conditions, limited access opportunities, noise limitations, and challenges in providing utilities and services to the site, thorough early-stage engineering planning was crucial for developing a feasible project.

Our engineering work was crucial for informing the development framework, led by LDA Design. While there were several options for the development itself, they lacked a foundation in engineering feasibility. Therefore, our team collaborated closely with the entire design team to fill these information gaps. This included designing practical access solutions and shaping the overall layout of the plot.

By ensuring a single point of contact for a suite of complex engineering design services, we ensured accountability, streamlined communication and ensured all change, including cause and effect, would be managed at the earliest opportunity.

Cutting out the jargon

We condensed all the technical aspects, limitations, and possibilities of the project into a concise Executive Summary report. This outlined our recommendations for Tameside Council, the landowners, and other key stakeholders. It was well-received by everyone involved, and concluded by identifying the most likely and cost-effective development option.

Added social value

As part of our appointment, we made the commitment to ensure we provided social value during our involvement on the project.

We delivered £6,000 worth of social value through tying in our Day Off For Good Causes initiative, providing an opportunity to an apprentice for 13 weeks, and delivering wider STEM activities to schools and colleges across Greater Manchester.

Related specialisms

Strategic Projects

A 'super-charged' approach to due diligence to assess the potential of new sites, including potential revenue streams from energy infrastructure to investment impacts from climate risk.


Addressing the impacts of climate change on developments by harnessing the benefits of sustainable drainage systems as a real-world environmental solution.

Fire Safety

Safeguarding communities, businesses and assets, through pragmatic design solutions and managing the risk of fire in the built environment.

Photos courtesy of LDA Design

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