Plans for ‘overbearing’ tower block with rooftop garden in Deansgate make a return

The office block would be 17 storeys tall, Manchester city council has heard.

Plans for a 17-storey office block in Deansgate which were thrown out last year by councillors after being described as ‘overbearing’ will be revisited.

A revised proposal to demolish Speakers House at 39 Deansgate making way for a new office building was submitted to Manchester council in the summer.

The planning committee will be asked to consider the new application one year after they refused to grant permission for a similar 17-storey scheme.

It comes after around 100 residents from the neighbouring No 1 Deansgate apartment block objected to the plans for a tower of the same height as theirs.

Plans for a 17-storey office block at Speakers House in Deansgate. Credit: Kames Property Income Fund.

Why were the plans rejected before?

Members of the planning committee voted against the proposed development twice, saying the tower would cause ‘substantial harm’ to the Grade-II listed Barton Arcade which is next door and the St Ann’s Square conservation area.

Councillors were warned that their reasons for refusal were ‘weak’ and may not stand up to an appeal by the developer Kames Property Income Fund.

But the committee sided with the objectors, arguing that the development would be ‘unacceptable’ due to the impact it would have on its neighbours.

Since then, the property developer has met residents at No 1 Deansgate and presented seven options for the site which it purchased for £11m in 2017.

The preferred option, according to a council report, included obscured glass which would reduce potential ‘overlooking’ into the apartments next door.

But the building on the corner of Deansgate and St Mary’s Gate would still be 17 storeys tall, leading to objections from half of the households opposite.

View of the proposed office block at Speakers House in Deansgate from St Anne’s Square. Credit: Kames Property Income Fund

The office would operate 24-hours-a-day, but the rooftop garden would close at 11pm during the week and 10pm on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays.

There would also be a 96-space cycle hub in the basement of the eco-friendly building which has been designed to reduce day-to-day carbon emissions.

What else is on the meeting’s agenda?

The planning committee will also be asked to consider an application for more than 200 homes in two new towers on the outskirts of Manchester city centre.

The 11 and 13-storey apartment buildings accommodating 223 flats would replace a car park in Rochdale Road alongside 14 new duplex townhouses.

Up to 30 car parking spaces would be provided underground along with 232 cycle parking spaces – but no affordable housing would be available on site.

However, if market conditions improve in the future, the developer could be asked to make a financial contribution to affordable housing within the city.

Plans for 410 new homes at a former chemicals factory in Miles Platting are also back in front of the planning committee after being approved in 2020.

The new neighbourhood in North Manchester is part of an £80m investment by NPL Group to redevelop the old Manox factory site in Coleshill Street.

More than a quarter of the new homes – 114 in total – would be affordable.

But the developer has requested permission to remove a condition requiring affordable housing in order to access grant funding from Homes England.

The affordable housing will instead be secured by a contract with the council.

Councillors will also be asked to grant permission for the use of a car park as a construction compound during the development of a former police station in Didsbury Village which is being currently converted into six apartments.

But six letters of objection have been received from local residents who have complained about the disruption caused by the neighbouring development.

The planning committee will meet on Thursday 20 January at 2pm.