Manchester's Mancunian Way could be site for 42-storey tower block as £450m plans finalised
The development would see most buildings on a stretch of Upper Brook Street demolished to make way for purpose-built accommodation for 1,837 students.
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Plans to house hundreds of students and bring 1,900 jobs and apprenticeships to a neighbourhood near the Mancunian Way have been finalised. The £450m scheme includes building a 42-storey tower which is already facing opposition.
The development would see most buildings on a stretch of Upper Brook Street demolished to make way for purpose-built accommodation for 1,837 students as well as several new blocks with laboratory and office space for life sciences sector jobs. There are also two public squares planned as part of the scheme.
However, the 42-storey tower which would house 1,100 students at the top of the site has faced a backlash from local residents in Ardwick and Brunswick. They have adopted the slogan ‘Stop The Monster’ in their campaign against it.
Public consultations on the project have been taking place since March and according to the the consortium of companies behind the scheme, most of the people who took part were initially supportive of the site’s redevelopment. But the level of support soon fell with concerns raised about the height of the tallest buildings planned and the number of students expected to live in them.
Documents submitted to Manchester council as part of the two planning applications relating to this development say that some changes were made following feedback from the public. Nevertheless, despite considering reducing the height of the tallest building, the 42-storey tower remains.
Explaining why, one document says: “It is recognised by the consortium that the emerging masterplan is part of Ardwick and not in the city centre. The masterplan site does, however, also sit within the wider Oxford Road Corridor – a innovation-led growth area of national and regional significance – and the emerging proposals seek to balance the inclusion of uses, public realm, and buildings that strike an appropriate balance between these two locations, regeneration objectives, and differences in scale […]
“The emerging Illustrative Masterplan seeks to locate the tallest building to the north where it will be seen, and have a relationship, with the taller buildings in the city centre and around the Mancunian Way […] The taller buildings have been being fully tested from an environmental and technical perspective to ensure the impacts on the Brunswick Community are as little as possible […]
“The consortium’s conclusion was that a single point building remains the best approach for the site, and is in line with the [Strategic Regeneration Framework Guidance] that encourages height to step up to the north where it will have less impact, and where it identifies an opportunity for a prominent accent building closest to the city centre. A single taller building allows the other two buildings to be kept at a lower height.”
The proposed development along Upper Brook Street stretches from the tip of the Mancunian Way at Grosvenor Street up to, but not including, the WH Lung supermarket by Cottenham Street. All of the buildings between these points – except for the Grade-II listed Former Unitarian Chapel which has been converted into student housing – would be demolished if the plan goes ahead.
This includes two former car showrooms, the SIP car park and a sheltered housing building called Elizabeth Yarwood Court which closed in June 2021. Gartside Gardens, which is located behind the site, would also be upgraded as part of the project alongside the establishment of two new public squares.
In total, approximately 700,000 sq ft of Sci-Tech sector accommodation would be built across two nine-storey blocks. As well as the 42-storey student accommodation building, another 23-storey block is also part of the proposal.