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GA Studio wins go-ahead for contested Manchester housing scheme

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Manchester City Council has approved controversial plans by GA Studio to build 24 homes on a green space at Slate Wharf in the Castlefield Conservation Area

The scheme for Waterside Developments had been opposed by a Facebook group called Save Plot G – Castlefield’s Most Loved Green Space, which has sought to have it protected as one of the few grassed, public areas in central Manchester and a place for picnics and for children to play.

However, an attempt to have the space designated an ‘asset of community value’ failed two years ago and the plot remained one of the last in the Castlefield canal basin earmarked for development.

Existing site - plot G

Existing site - plot G

Existing site - plot G

Following the recent consent, Ian Christie, secretary of local community group Castlefield Forum said: ‘Many [of our] members felt this site shouldn’t be developed at all but should be preserved and landscaped as the heart of one of the city centre’s few major pieces of parkland.

’However, we recognised there were no planning grounds on which such an objection could be realistically based and that the site would very probably be developed. Many of us feel that the proposals are a very thoughtful solution to a challenging site. In particular, we like the way they keep one third of the site as open space, retain important views in and out of the area and are suitable in shape and scale to the spatial character of this part of the Conservation Area.’

GA Studio managing director Martin Gibson added: ‘GA Studio consulted significantly with local residents, Castlefield Forum and the Save Plot G action group. However, once all parties realised that there was a very considered and thoughtful approach to how the site may be developed, attitudes began to change. 

Once all parties realised there was a very considered and thoughtful approach, attitudes began to change

‘The design of the scheme was carefully considered in relation to the surrounding context, with particular focus on the listed heritage assets within the Castlefield Basin, namely Middle Warehouse, Merchants Warehouse and the Viaduct. 

‘Despite housing 24 one, two and three-bedroom apartments, the proposal manifests itself more as canalside townhouses than a residential block. Brickwork provides the solidity and longevity we wanted to achieve for the building, with deep reveals and a vertical rhythm to fenestration echoing the language of the shipping holes and hoist lifts of Merchants Warehouse opposite.’

The Forum suffered a further setback in its attempt to stop plans to build a pair of 21 and 12-storey towers (pictured below) designed by OMI Architects for Renaker on the 2-4 Chester Road site – formerly the Quay Bar – on the other side of the basin.

This week Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, rejected a joint bid by the Forum and developer Castlefield Estates for the large residential project to be called in after its recent approval by Manchester City Council.

Sarah Ramsbottom, managing director of Castlefield Estates said: ‘It is disgraceful that the city council can allow a scheme such as this to be built in a Conservation Area. It should be a source of deep shame for the council that this development will blight Castlefield for generations.

‘We are currently seeking legal advice about any further avenues we can pursue and we will continue to scrutinise the details of this scheme every step of the way.’ 

OMI Archittects' 2-4 Chester Road scheme for Renaker - approved in February by Manchester city Council

OMI Archittects’ 2-4 Chester Road scheme for Renaker - approved in February by Manchester city Council

OMI Archittects’ 2-4 Chester Road scheme for Renaker - approved in February by Manchester city Council

Project data: Plot G

Location Castlefield Basin, Manchester
Type of project Residential
Client Waterside Developments
Architect GA Studio
Landscape architect GA Studio
Planning consultant HOW Planning
Structural engineer Curtins
M&E consultant BWB Consulting
Form of contract tbc
Total cost tbc

Proposed plans0003

Proposed plans0003

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