Campaign group fights for Victorian Northern Quarter warehouses under threat of demolition

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Campaigners have stressed the importance of these historic buildings, describing the proposed 19-storey tower block as “overwhelming”

The future of several Victorian warehouses in the Northern Quarter will be decided over the next couple of weeks as developers appeal Manchester City Council’s earlier refusal of the plans.

SAVE Britain’s Heritage, a conservation group that works to protect historic buildings up and down the country, has been campaigning against the plans to demolish the four warehouses in Shudehill since they were announced by developers in April 2019. SAVE presented a statement during the opening day of the planning enquiry, which began on Tuesday 24 October.

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The proposal by developers Interland Holdings Ltd includes a 19-storey tower block, as well as the demolition of four warehouses between Shudehill and Dantzic Street, and the partial demolition of another Grade II-listed warehouse. Manchester City Council refused the plans in April 2023 on heritage and design grounds.

The Rosenfield Building at 18-20 Dantzic Street is one of the buildings under threat from the tower block development. Only the façade would be retained as the “footstool” of the 19 storey apartment building behind it, if the plans were to be approved. [Photo: © Mark Watson]The Rosenfield Building at 18-20 Dantzic Street is one of the buildings under threat from the tower block development. Only the façade would be retained as the “footstool” of the 19 storey apartment building behind it, if the plans were to be approved. [Photo: © Mark Watson]
The Rosenfield Building at 18-20 Dantzic Street is one of the buildings under threat from the tower block development. Only the façade would be retained as the “footstool” of the 19 storey apartment building behind it, if the plans were to be approved. [Photo: © Mark Watson] | [Photo: © Mark Watson]

Why are SAVE and Manchester City Council objecting?

The series of 19th century warehouses is located within the Shudehill Conservation Area and both the council and SAVE assert that the demolition of the buildings and construction of the 175-flat tower block would be harmful to the neighbourhood.

Shudehill Conservation Area is characterised by “a series of low to mid rise warehouse and commercial buildings set close together on sharply angled streets creating interesting views slicing through the blocks,” according to SAVE.

The conservation group has described the scale and size of the proposed tower block as “overwhelming” and say that it would “dwarf” the surrounding Victorian architecture. Manchester City Council have also expressed doubts about the overall deliverability of the project.

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CGIs of the proposed scheme with the 19 storey tower and 12-storey block of 175 flats [Credit - Planning Documents]CGIs of the proposed scheme with the 19 storey tower and 12-storey block of 175 flats [Credit - Planning Documents]
CGIs of the proposed scheme with the 19 storey tower and 12-storey block of 175 flats [Credit - Planning Documents] | Planning Documents

The developers, however, disagree. Interland Holdings Ltd say that the size is necessary in order for the scheme to be profitable and that the design is in line with the only other tower in the area, the Glassworks. This building is deliberately excluded from the conservation area, along with other tall buildings on Hanover Street.

The buildings at risk due to this project include 29 Shudehill, a Grade II listed warehouse built in 1810, known for its “stucco facade incorporating unusual full width first floor windows with thin cast-iron columns.” The other three warehouses are 12 & 14, 16 & 18 Thorniley Brow, although some of this site was destroyed during World War II. The final building is the Rosenfield Building, a former department store on 18-20 Dantzic Street.

What do SAVE say?

Architectural details of the buildings that would be demolished under the proposed plans.  [Photo: © Mark Watson]Architectural details of the buildings that would be demolished under the proposed plans.  [Photo: © Mark Watson]
Architectural details of the buildings that would be demolished under the proposed plans. [Photo: © Mark Watson] | [Photo: © Mark Watson]

Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, said: "SAVE is pleased to support Manchester City Council’s robust case against this massive tower and slab scheme. The site’s Conservation Area location and historic warehouses offer a unique opportunity to regenerate this area with a high quality proposal for new development that works with the existing buildings instead of demolishing them. The current scheme is wrong footed – and should be rightly thrown out of any Conservation Area.”

Ben Dewfield-Oakley, conservation officer at SAVE Britain’s Heritage, said: "This tower scheme is simply the wrong approach for this site. Shudehill is deeply linked to Manchester’s industrial growth since the 18th and 19th centuries and the existing warehouses are good buildings, worthy of retention and reuse. The Conservation Area is designated to protect buildings like them, and the proposed scheme would make a mockery of this protection. The proposals were rightly refused by the City Council, and we are calling on the Planning Inspectorate to uphold that democratic decision."

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