‘Too tall’ skyscraper plan returns for Manchester city centre - with one floor removed

Planners have said that reducing the height of the tallest building by one storey brings the proposal in line with the masterplan for the Piccadilly Basin area.

Plans for a new skyscraper in Manchester which were rejected for being ‘too tall’ could be approved this week as the developer agrees to remove one floor.

The tallest of the buildings planned as part of the 481-apartment scheme off Great Ancoats Street would stand at 33 storeys and feature four fewer flats.

Manchester city council’s planning committee knocked back the proposal twice in two months, raising concerns about the height of the £154m development.

Councillors also complained about the lack of affordable housing offered.

However, town hall planners have said that reducing the height of the tallest building by one storey brings the proposal in line with the masterplan for the Piccadilly Basin area and have recommended that the application is approved.

But opponents to the plans say the development would still be too tall.

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Plans for a part-34, part-11 storey residential building with 485 flats in Port Street and Greater Ancoats Street, Manchester. Credit: SimpsonHaugh. Caption: Joseph Timan. Permission for use for all LDRS partners. Port Street Plans for a part-34, part-11 storey residential building with 485 flats in Port Street and Greater Ancoats Street, Manchester. Credit: SimpsonHaugh.

Speaking on behalf of the Royal Mills Residents’ Association, one representative said: “As it stands, taking one storey off doesn’t cut it at all.

“They need to take at least 15 storeys off.

“We don’t have an objection to it being 20 storeys if needs be, but another 13 storeys would have such an impact on the buildings around it.

“Aesthetically, it doesn’t look right. We’re a residential area.

“And the fact that there would be a shadow across the school when the kids leave at half past three is an absolute abomination.”

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The plans for 485 apartments in a 34-storey tower on Port Street and an 11-storey tower in Great Ancoats Street were submitted by Cheshire-based developer Select Property Group to Manchester council earlier this year.

But a few months earlier, a public consultation was launched for a 31-storey tower on the same site – and local residents complained that it was too tall.

Plans for a part-34, part-11 storey residential building with 485 flats in Port Street and Greater Ancoats Street, Manchester. Credit: SimpsonHaugh. Caption: Joseph Timan. Permission for use for all LDRS partners. Port Street Plans for a part-34, part-11 storey residential building with 485 flats in Port Street and Greater Ancoats Street, Manchester. Credit: SimpsonHaugh.

What are locals saying?

Piccadilly councillor Sam Wheeler, who represents the ward in which the site is located, questioned how a 33-storey scheme can be considered a compromise.

He said: “Following a consultation which overwhelmingly objected to the scale and massing of the building, the developers made the building several stories taller.

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“They have now made it one story shorter and present it as a compromise.

“A lay person might think they had been advised to do this from the beginning.”

Plans for a part-34, part-11 storey residential building with 485 flats in Port Street and Greater Ancoats Street, Manchester. Credit: SimpsonHaugh. Caption: Joseph Timan. Permission for use for all LDRS partners. Port Street Plans for a part-34, part-11 storey residential building with 485 flats in Port Street and Greater Ancoats Street, Manchester. Credit: SimpsonHaugh. Caption: Joseph Timan. Permission for use for all LDRS partners. Port Street Plans for a part-34, part-11 storey residential building with 485 flats in Port Street and Greater Ancoats Street, Manchester. Credit: SimpsonHaugh.

The Labour councillor claims to have negotiated a contribution of £1m from this development that will go towards affordable housing elsewhere in the city.

But he has argued that this is not enough as it will still leave the developers with a £30m profit, while 14,000 families remain on the housing waiting list.

Lib Dem councillor Alan Good, who represents the neighbouring Ancoats and Beswick ward where many residents will be affected by the plans, agreed.

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He said: “Building on surface car parks is an improvement, but much needed housing must be a mixture of affordable and owner-occupied rather than just ‘rental-only’ luxury flats.

“Manchester needs to build housing for the long term, and end the charade of consultations that change nothing.

“Property developers should respect the history of the area.

“We should be proud of Ancoats and the reputation it has earned, but approving towers that overshadow the conservation area risks repeating what happened in Liverpool, which lost its heritage status through over-development.”

Labour councillors Irene Robinson and Majid Dar, who also represent Ancoats and Beswick ward, said they still share residents’ concerns about the height.

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They have also argued that the development will have an impact on the heritage and conservation area around the historic Royal Mills in Ancoats.

They said: “We can see that the developer has begun to respond to this with the revised application, but our original concerns still remain as local Labour councillors for the area.

“We hope the planning committee will fully engage with these points in the planning committee this week on Thursday.”

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

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.

The application has been submitted by architectural firm SimpsonHaugh.

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What do the applicants say?

Select Property Group CEO Adam Price said: “Our proposals for Port Street will breathe new life into this long-standing vacant site and encourage more residents to make this area their home, making a positive, lasting contribution to Manchester city centre.

“This development will support the city centre’s continued growth and regeneration at a critical time for Manchester and the UK economy.

“Port Street will provide new homes designed to meet the needs of people wanting to live in Manchester city centre, together with ground-floor spaces for local businesses and fantastic new public realm.

“We firmly believe that our proposal takes a sensitive approach to development in this much-loved part of the city, whilst delivering the raft of benefits that this major investment will bring to Manchester.”

The planning committee will meet at the town hall on Thursday (July 28) where it will discuss four applications in total, including one for six-storey apartment block with 75 flats in the car park of Tesco off Parrs Wood Lane in Didsbury.

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This application has been subject to 228 objections from local residents.

The agenda also includes applications for four townhouses at Paradise Wharf near Piccadilly station which has also face opposition from 37 neighbours and an upgrade for a Grade-II listed 18th century stable block in Parrs Wood.