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FCBS Manchester High Street decision postponed again

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The developer behind Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ 22-storey housing block opposite Manchester’s Arndale Centre has asked councillors to delay their decision on the scheme

Backer CEG deferred consideration of the practice’s 20-36 High Street proposals, which were due to be heard by Manchester City Council’s Planning and Highways Committee last week (25 July).

At an earlier committee meeting in June councillors put back a decision on the 361-home conversion of 1970s offices so they could fit in a site visit.

Planning officers recommended the 32,800m² FCBS proposals for approval both times, subject to a deal being struck over potential payments towards offsite affordable housing.

CEG said it had hoped to finalise this arrangement by the July meeting but required a bit more time to do so. It is understood a revised hearing is expected later this year.

David Hodgson, head of strategic development north at the developer, said: ‘The regeneration of this constrained brownfield site is very challenging, due to significant abnormal costs – it is adjacent to the tram line and extensive costs are demanded to protect the Manchester trams’ switchgear in the basement.

’The development also needs to fund the relocation of corporate occupiers, which currently detract from creating an active and inviting street frontage.

‘While those expensive constraints make affordable housing difficult, we have listened carefully to ward councillor concerns and are aiming to further bolster the re-evaluation methodology that will provide affordable housing contributions through the reduction of any development costs.’

All 361 homes in the scheme are slated for open market sale. The planning report to the July committee hearing said the total costs of the development would be £96.2 million, meaning that it ’could not support a contribution towards offsite affordable housing’.

Planning officers added: ’The applicant has agreed to enter into a legal agreement which will include a provision for a reconciliation which would require a contribution to be paid if values change at an agreed point.’ It is thought to be completion of this legal agreement that is holding up a decision on the scheme.

The ground floor and a double-height mezzanine of the proposed block would offer space for independent cafés, restaurants and shops. The scheme would also reopen Stationer’s Court as a public green space connecting the High Street and the Northern Quarter.

It would replace two office buildings on the site, the larger of the pair designed by local practice Leach Rhodes Walker.

Speaking when the plans were submitted last year, Alex Whitbread, partner at the practice, saidr: ’Our design will create a grand mansion block at the corner of High Street and Church Street where the Northern Quarter and the city-centre retail quarter meet.

’The architecture refers to the city’s past, drawing on the adjacent Debenhams and historic office buildings such as Sunlight House to create a new building which is distinctly and proudly Mancunian. The use of light ivory-white glazed ceramic tiles will also create a building that is light in colour and reflective in character.’ 

FCB Studios High Street Manchester proposals - existing site

FCB Studios High Street Manchester proposals - existing site

FCB Studios High Street Manchester proposals - existing site

Project data

Location 20-36 High Street
Type of project Mixed-Use (predominantly residential)
Client CEG
Architect Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
Landscape architect Re-form
Planning consultant Deloitte
Structural engineer WSP
M&E consultant Hoare Lea
Quantity surveyor RPS
Transport planner Mott MacDonald
Fire engineering Design Fire Consultants
Gross internal floor area 32,800m²

FCB Studios High Street Manchester proposals - Stationer's Court 01

FCB Studios High Street Manchester proposals - Stationer’s Court 01

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