Here’s a first look at the new school set to replace Belle Vue’s iconic Showcase Cinema

The 1,200-space free school will have an auditorium, sports hall and playing fields.

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 14th January 2021
Sir Robert McAlpine / Space Architects

Architects’ images featuring a first look at the new secondary school to be built in the place of Belle Vue’s iconic Showcase Cinema have been released.

Showcase Cinema – which had occupied the site of the famous Belle Vue entertainment complex since 1989 – agreed to sell the land to Manchester City Council last year, with a formal planning application to redevelop the 13-acre site on Hyde Road having now been lodged.

And now, Mancunians can catch a glimpse at plans for The Co-Op Academy Belle Vue – which will be a free school for 1,200 pupils – for the first time, before it is expected to welcome its first set of Year 7 students this September.

Documents released this week show a modern L-shaped building split into three ‘zones’.

It starts with a two-storey sports block, which will boast a sports hall, auditorium, and a drama studio, and the central three-storey building includes the school’s reception, a community hub with a library on the floor above, and a dining hall.


An adjoining sports hall also has a separate entrance for out of hours use by the wider Belle Vue community, alongside a 140-space car park.

To the rear of the proposed building – which is currently a car park – two large playing fields will be provided, along with a multi-use games area (MUGA) and training grids, which would have three courts to accommodate tennis and basketball courts, a five-a-side football pitch, and practice areas for netball and hockey.

Sir Robert McAlpine / Space Architects

The Co-op Belle Vue Academy will be run by the Co-Op Academies Trust.

The trust manages 26 other schools in the north of England and is expected to meet demand for secondary school places in east Manchester, with temporary accommodation for students being provided at the nearby Connell Co-op College until the new school building opens in 2023. The new school will accept 120 Year 7 pupils at Connell Co-op College this year and, once fully built, it will be able to take on 240 Year 7 students every year until it reaches full capacity in 2026.

Manchester City Council had originally planned to build a 1,200-place high school at Nutsford Vale in Gorton, but the controversial proposals were met with fierce local opposition.


A statement submitted alongside with the planning for the Co-op Belle Vue Academy says: “The Trust has an established reputation for providing a high standard of education at its existing schools and colleges and will transfer their vision and experience to the success of the new Belle Vue Academy.

“Whilst the Academy’s primary function is to provide education and learning to 11-16 year olds, it is also intended that the premises will provide functions and facilities which can be used by the wider community throughout the week.”

You can find out more about Co-op Belle Vue Academy here.