New £154m skyscraper approved in Manchester despite concerns it is ‘too tall’

Neighbouring residents, hundreds of whom objected, have expressed their disappointment at the decision.

A 33-storey apartment block has been given the green light after one floor was removed from the plans which were rejected twice for being ‘too tall’.

Plans for 481 flats off Great Ancoats Street were approved by Manchester’s planning committee despite hundreds of objections about the tallest block.

The committee concluded that reducing the height of the tower proposed in Port Street by one storey would bring it in line with the masterplan for the area.

Some councillors criticised the plans which feature no affordable flats and said the £1m contribution towards affordable housing elsewhere was still too small.

But the £154m scheme was approved with most councillors voting in favour.

Plans for 481 flats off Great Ancoats Street, including a 33-storey building in Port Street. Credit: Select Property

Residents’ objections

Neighbouring residents, hundreds of whom objected, have expressed their disappointment at the decision – and some have said they will not accept it.

Speaking after the planning committee meeting on Thursday (28 July), Zoe Salisbury told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the Royal Mills Residents Association is now exploring how it can block the development .

She said removing one floor was not enough to address objectors’ concerns about the impact it would have on sunlight in the area, including at a school.

The chartered surveyor also claimed that the scheme contradicts Manchester city council’s vision for the area which proposes a shorter building in Port Street.

Speaking at the committee meeting, she said: “Once this is built, the impact on our city, residents and the historic area will be blighted forever more.”

The objector also told councillors that the developer’s original proposal for a 31-storey tower on this site was opposed with 81 pc of respondents against it.

Barry Cronin, who lives at Avro, an historic mill which neighbours the car park where the flats will be built, says he supports this ‘eye sore’ being developed.

But he says the 33-storey tower will ‘drawf’ the converted Victorian mill and criticised its ‘brown monotone’ design, saying it lacks ‘vision and creativity’.

He said: “There’s an opportunity to build something world class and we’re building something that is third or fourth division.”

‘Build to rent’

The ‘build to rent’ scheme, featuring co-working space and a residents’ gym, would be managed by Affinity Living, a subsidiary brand of Select Property.

The plans include 47 basement car parking spaces, all of which could be fitted with electric vehicles chargers in the future, as well as 481 spaces for cycles.

However, there will be no affordable housing within the development itself.

An initial contribution of £1m has been offered towards affordable housing elsewhere in the city, leaving the developer with a profit margin of 14.18 pc.

Labour councillor Jon-Connor Lyons, who represents Piccadilly ward where the site is located, described the developer’s profit as ‘lucrative’ and said the building is ‘incredibly tall’, compromising the identity of the Northern Quarter.

Lib Dem councillor Jon Leech said he believed there was a general consensus within the committee that the affordable housing contribution was too small.

However, Labour councillor John Flanagan said he had been ‘minded to refuse’ the application before because it was one storey taller than the masterplan allowed for.

Labour councillor Paul Andrews agreed, saying it is ‘very difficult’ to think of reasons to refuse the application based on planning rules and local policy.

Seven councillors supported the pair’s proposal to approve the application, with three members, including Labour councillor Jill Lovecy, voting against it.

Welcoming the decision, developer Select Property said the scheme designed by SimpsonHaugh will see 481 beautifully styled apartments built on the site.

A mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments will be available, with premium-quality, hand-crafted finishes, according to the property firm.

There will also be space for restaurants, cafes, and bars on the ground floor.

CEO Adam Price said Select Property has an ‘outstanding reputation’ for delivering some of the city’s best build-to-rent accommodation including Embankment West which is home to Laurence Place and Exchange Point.

He said: “Now, works can begin on Port Street, a site which was long overdue for significant investment and promises to deliver the very best apartments the city has to offer, creating a vibrant community.

“The plans will marry this desirable location with a superb product which responds to its surroundings, bringing together Piccadilly, Ancoats and The Northern Quarter.”