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Council bats off criticism of Glenn Howells’ Manchester regeneration

Glenn howells ramada early proposals 2018
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Manchester City Council has rejected criticisms of the design principles outlined in a document guiding Glenn Howells Architects’ bid to replace a 1970s hotel in Manchester with a residential-led scheme

The council will this week consider responses to a public consultation on the strategic regeneration framework (SRF) for the Ramada Complex on Deansgate.

The 15-storey 1972 Marriot Renaissance Manchester, designed by Cruickshank and Seward, and its car park are set to be demolished under the Glenn Howells scheme. They will be replaced by three buildings containing up to 600 apartments, a 250-room five-star hotel, restaurants and shops, and public space.

The council’s leader has described the project as the final piece of a renewal programme launched after damage wreaked by the 1996 IRA bomb.

But according to a summary of comments received by the council, four respondents raised significant concerns about the architecture and design principles in the strategic planning document.

A report by officers said that these comments included: ‘The poor quality designs presented by the architects seem to have been created without thought for place or context, either a new design or new architect would remedy this problem.’

Another comment said that ‘shiny glass towers that have little character and zero continuity with the city’s past’ are not the best way of attracting new residents to the area.

Heritage watchdog Historic England suggested that the framework should take an approach more similar to a 2009 application for the site by Ian Simpson Architects, which was never implemented.

Acccording to the report, Historic England commented: ‘Previous proposals endorsed in 2009 set out development with greatest massing to the south, at the junction of Deansgate and Blackfriars Road, reducing to the north where it would be closer and have more impact upon the setting of Manchester Cathedral.’

However, responding to the criticisms of the document, council officers said: ‘The SRF is not a prescriptive document.

‘It establishes the principles to inform and deliver the vision for the site, but is not a detailed architectural proposal.

‘Early consultation with the council and Historic England will be sought in the detailed design development stages, in advance of a planning application coming forward.

‘At this stage, a full analysis and justification around the arrangement of the buildings and distribution of height on the site will be provided.’

Birmingham-based Glenn Howells Architects was appointed by developer Urban & Civic last year for the high-profile job. The practice was contacted for comment.

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