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Architects wary of council plan to block speculative schemes

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Architects and planners are sceptical of proposals by Manchester City Council to stop developers applying for planning permission solely to increase the value of land

The move, outlined in a draft core strategy to be debated this week, would see the council refusing planning permission for tall buildings that are ‘speculative’ and don’t have identified end users.

The council believes that ‘unimplemented planning permissions for tall buildings can distort the market in an unacceptable manner’.

Gary Halman, partner at HOW Planning, said: ‘It’s certainly the case that there are a number of sites that have consent but no prospect that they’ll be built, especially residential and hotel schemes. I can understand where the council is coming from, it artificially inflates land owners’ expectations of price. But I don’t see how the council could prove if they’re serious or not.’

Manchester-based Arca Architects boss John Lee agrees: ‘The promotion of tall buildings is something the council has benefited from, they share in the glory of the development going forward. A better way to do it would be from a design point of view. Quality should be the main driver.’

Manchester City Council’s executive will consider the document this week and, if approved, it could be adopted into the city’s planning guidance.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Perhaps Architects should be looking at how they can financially benefit from speculative planning applications? If we are responsible for increasing the land value according to what we can get through planning then surely a % bonus on that land increase should be in order.
    As usual though, Architects are more concerned with 'quality' and would gladly undercut each other and live off baked beans for the chance to design a ‘discursive contextual response’
    Local Authorities should evaluate each application on its own merit and not be swayed by the suspicion it might be speculative. The country and Architecture is suffering enough at the moment.

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  • ^^^ Couldnt agree more.

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