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FCBS’s ‘bold’ 22-storey Manchester housing block finally approved


Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ proposed 22-storey housing block opposite Manchester’s Arndale Centre has finally been approved – at the fourth time of asking

In September, developer CEG asked Manchester City Council to defer consideration of the practice’s £79 million designs for 20-36 High Street, which will replace a ‘predominantly vacant 1970s building’ designed by Leach Rhodes Walker.

A decision on the 361-home scheme, which will be clad with ivory-white glazed ceramic tiles, was initially expected back in June, but councillors postponed a decision so they could make a site visit.

Then in July the developer successfully requested a postponement of the rescheduled committee date so it could finalise an arrangement for potential payments towards offsite affordable housing. CEG subsequently offered £1 million towards this housing, with provision for further payments if the market value of the homes within the development increased.

Councillors voted to back the scheme this week by seven votes to two.

The proposal had come in for criticism from Historic England, which raised heritage concerns about the loss of 20-22 High Street, describing the front elevation of the 1915 former warehouse as ‘very fine’. The First World War-era building features hand-carved keystone faces, Art Nouveau stained glass windows and an Art Deco tiled entrance vestibule.

According to the team, the inspiration for the new 32,800m² scheme draws on the designs of the nearby 1932 Debenhams store by Fairhursts and Joseph Sunlight’s Grade II-listed Sunlight House in Little Quay Street of the same year.

The ground floor will provide spaces for cafés, restaurants and shops. The plans also include the reopening of the Stationer’s Court which will become ‘a tranquil public green space’ connecting the High Street and the Northern Quarter.

CEG head of strategic development David Hodgson admitted that the scheme was an ‘extremely challenging regeneration project on a constrained brownfield site’.

He said the approval had ‘provided the opportunity to transform this rundown building with a bold, confident and distinctly Mancunian building. We are pleased that the committee has acknowledged this and allows CEG to move forward.’

FCBS partner Alex Whitbread said: ‘The scheme for High Street Manchester is a bold piece of architecture that draws inspiration from the Art Deco architecture and economic aspirations of central Manchester.

This is a bold piece of architecture that draws inspiration from Art Deco architecture 

‘Our scheme sets the tone for the next phase of development on High Street – sustainable, social and connected.’

A future timescale is not yet known.

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


Readers' comments (2)

  • No images of the former WW1 era warehouse (or the Leach Rhodes Walker designed office building) - but the images of FCBS's proposal clearly show that while 'bold' is one term for it, gross lump would also be appropriate.

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  • It would have been so easy to retain the heritage architecture and still build an enormous new monolith on that site. Its also completely possible to extend and re-clad the existing concrete frame rather than trashing the whole thing. This is short sighted, it wont retain its value when people realise what such a deep plan building is actually like. How are they allowed to claim this as sustainable? by what measure is this lump of poorly designed housing market speculation sustainable?

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