Thousands of flats and several skyscrapers have been given the green light in Manchester city center so far this year alongside other major developments.
Manchester council’s planning committee has met monthly since the start of 2022 to vote on huge proposals – some of which have caused controversy. Developer Renaker has had six skyscrapers featuring almost 2,000 flats and acres of green space approved, but none of this housing would be deemed ‘affordable’.
In January, a 17-storey office block in Deansgate was approved despite many residents at the apartment building opposing objecting to the revised proposal. And last month, plans to extend Hough End Leisure Center by developing the fields off Princess Road were also given the go ahead following angry protests.
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Here are the major developments that have been approved so far this year.
Four skyscrapers with 1,950 flats at Trinity Islands
A nine-year project to build four skyscrapers – including one which would be the second tallest building in the city – were given the green light in February. The apartment blocks, ranging from 39 to 60 storeys in height, are planned for two parcels of land on the banks of the River Irwell known as Trinity Islands.
The ‘elegant’ buildings featuring 1,950 flats would be located on land between Regent Road, Liverpool Road and Water Street which is currently a car park. Nearly two-thirds of the site off Trinity Way will be turned into green space which will be twice the size of Cathedral Gardens and open to the public.
However, none of the new apartments would be deemed affordable as the developer said this would affect the financial viability of the £741.7m scheme. An initial contribution of £106,000 towards affordable housing elsewhere in the city has been agreed and a ‘clawback’ clause means the developer could be asked to contribute more cash if the project becomes more profitable.
The developer has also agreed to contribute £1.5m towards a new school at Crown Street and values its planned public realm improvements at £10.3m.
Two skyscrapers with 988 apartments at Great Jackson Street
Almost 1,000 apartments – none of which will be affordable – are set to be built in two 51-storey buildings off Great Jackson Street next to Deansgate Square. A mix of one, two and three-bedroom properties feature in the plans, including eight penthouse duplex apartments in each of the 154-meter tall towers.
Each building boasts its own co-working space, gym and lounges with private underground car parks and cycle storage within the three-storey basements. A private residents’ garden is also planned alongside some public green space.
None of the apartments would be affordable, but Renaker – the developer behind the neighboring Deansgate Square development – agreed to contribute £90,000 towards affordable housing elsewhere in the city. Councillors described the sum as an ‘insult’ – but planning chiefs explained that the development has a relatively low predicted profit margin of 11 pc.
One-hectare of new public space is to be created on the site, costing £3.8m and the developer will also contribute half a million pounds to a new school.
17-storey office block at Speakers House, Deansgate
Plans for the new 17-storey office block in Deansgate were approved in January, one year after a similar scheme for the same site was rejected. The new building will be located opposite the Ramada Renaissance hotel which is due to be refurbished with a new 26-storey tower built alongside it.
Speakers House at 39 Deansgate will be demolished to make way for the new 24-hour office building boasting a rooftop garden which would close by 11pm. There would also be a 96-space cycle hub in the foundation of the eco-friendly development which has been designed to cut day-to-day carbon emissions.
Residents at No. 1 Deansgate opposed the development saying it would invade their privacy with one describing the latest revised proposal as ‘disrespectful’. Historic England also raised concerns about the new tower being visible from St Ann’s Square, but the body said the impact would be less than substantial.
461 flats at the former Boddingtons Brewery site
A proposal to build 461 flats at the former Boddingtons Brewery site on the edge of Manchester city center was also approved by the council in March. Two residential buildings ranging between 11 and 27 storeys in height are planned for the site off Great Ducie Street as well as a new pocket park.
This development, put forward by Clarion Housing Group, would be located next to the new Manchester College campus currently under construction. According to the plans, only 5 pc of the new homes would be affordable – but the company, which is part of developer Latimer, is actually aiming for 60 pc.
A total of 121 apartments at the development are expected to be available for social rent with a further 132 to be sold as part of a shared ownership scheme. The developer is planning to use a grant from Homes England, alongside its own funds, to deliver more affordable housing than required by the council.
Councilors also raised concerns that no parking spaces are planned on the site off Great Ducie Street which was a surface level car park, but planners said the council wants a new multi-storey car park to be built in the area soon.
Hough End Leisure Center extension off Princess Road
The plans to extend Hough End Leisure Center onto neighboring playing fields were approved at the same planning committee meeting last month. The plans include the building of two cork-infill 3G pitches, a two-storey extension to the existing leisure center and the creation of 127 parking spaces.
But the ‘Save Hough End Fields’ group staged protests outside the meeting held in the town hall in Manchester, before watching it from the public gallery. Objectors said replacing grass and trees with artificial turf and concrete is ‘bad news’ for wildlife, the climate and local residents suffering more air pollution.
However, Chorlton Park councilors said the scheme will bring benefits for all, improve health and fitness and secure the fields and leisure centre’s future. Protesters shouted at councillors, chanting ‘shame on you’ from the public gallery after the planning committee voted in favor of approving the application.