All great projects must come to an end, and as of the end of September 2023, Manchester will need to say goodbye to the original incarnation of one of its most successful container conversion projects.
However, Hatch is not going away forever; instead, it is working with another leisure developer nearby to create a larger redevelopment of the site on the Oxford Road Corridor that will expand the space and create an even grander street food village.
Despite the grand ambitions, larger venue and greater opportunities for businesses in Manchester, one aspect of the new Stack venue will remain the same compared to Hatch, and that is its reliance on shipping containers for vast swathes of its design and construction.
Whilst it is obviously sad in a way to see the familiar Hatch name disappear from Oxford Road, and several of the great street food vendors who have called the shipping container village their home will be displaced for a while, it is also a reflection of the success of the concept.
From A Stopgap To A Nighttime Staple
Hatch was originally conceived as a way to take advantage of some unused space under the Mancunian Way whilst Circle Square further down Oxford Road was being set up, as well as a way to give visibility and working space to start-up businesses.
To say it was a success was a bit of an understatement; the venue has since won awards and allowed countless small Mancunian businesses to nurture and develop in a close-knit, well-trafficked area.
It has also become a hit with diners as well, gaining a reputation for being a particularly excellent place to eat even in a city already filled with fantastic food and drink venues.
Whilst not the first shipping container village of its type, it showed the potential to develop unsung areas in a way that was affordable, vibrant and fascinating.
Ironically enough, this may have sowed the seeds for Hatch’s own fate.
Of the many shipping container villages and leisure hubs, one of the fastest growing in the UK was STACK, which like many saw Hatch as its primary inspiration for using the container as its primary construction material.
Initially launched in Newcastle, STACK has expanded into many towns and cities in the North East of England, including Carlisle, Durham, Middlesbrough, Lincoln and Northampton amongst others.
As part of its wider expansion across the country, STACK agreed to a joint development with Bruntwood, the developers behind Hatch, to create a bigger, brighter shipping container village.
This as a side effect means saying goodbye to the name (to be replaced with the more uniform STACK branding) as well as seeing many of the existing tenants leaving, albeit with priority in the selection process if they decide to move into STACK when it reopens.
The only one that will stay open is OL Brewery during the development and construction process.
It’s a sad farewell but also emphasises the success and evolution of shipping container structures from a temporary stopgap to the future of leisure construction, with more ambitious developments to match.