'It will condemn this wonderful building': Developer's campaign to stop Victorian Manchester mill being listed

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A developer has launched a campaign to stop Victorian mill The Hotspur Press becoming a listed building.

Manner, which has just secured planning permission to redevelop the former printing works that closed down in 1996, is the firm behind the move. It has approval to build a 36-storey student housing tower, with space for 595 bedrooms, plus a new public square.

One in 10 of those student bedrooms will be affordable, and the project will save the mill’s facade and iconic ‘Percy Brothers’ signage. However, Manner claims the future of this project is in doubt after ‘an anonymous individual made an application for the building to be listed, despite a similar request being refused by Historic England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in 2019’.

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The firm says that ‘if listed, The Hotspur Press faces a real risk of never being redeveloped and being “condemned” – deteriorating further, falling into a state of disrepair and increasing the risk of further vandalism’. It has therefore launched a petition calling for the listed building application to be thrown out — and also allow its multi-million-pound scheme to go ahead.

Manner

“This site was assessed by Historic England in 2019 and was not deemed worthy of listing,” said Richard James, Manner’s managing director. “Following a unanimous planning approval received last month from Manchester City Council, we are in constructive dialogue with Historic England and the City Council.

“Saving this building has always been at the heart of our proposals. Our sensitive approach to the regeneration of The Hotspur Press is the only way to prevent it falling further into disrepair, and we are confident in making this case to Historic England.

“Our plans have always focused on preserving the heritage of this building, including retaining much of the existing brick exterior, iconic signage, and many of the historic features. Listing The Hotspur Press will not save The Hotspur Press; it will condemn the future of this wonderful building and its history.”

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During the planning meeting which saw the scheme approved, Mr James told councillors that neighbours in MacIntosh Village and Chorlton Mill had expressed public support of the proposal, and that the commercial units on the ground floor and nearby railway arches would be made available for independent operators.

Manner

The bid to list the building is the latest twist in its journey to being redeveloped. Since closing as a printing mill in 1996, it has been subject to numerous regeneration attempts.

Most notably a 171-home, 28-storey standard residential proposal was given planning permission in 2020 — but building work never got off the ground. That led Manner to take on the site, who first revealed plans for student housing in December 2023.

Even then, there was another twist in the saga. Manner then revised their initial plans to reduce the height and width of the tower ‘slightly’, but add another floor, meaning the number of student bedrooms rose from 578 to 595.  Construction was anticipated to get underway in the next few months, with completion originally slated for the 2028 academic year.

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