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Manchester approves 11-storey tower despite residents’ objections

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Plans for an 11-storey residential tower in central Manchester by NC Architecture have been given the green light in the face of opposition from local residents 

The proposals for 38 flats in a building which steps down from 11 to five storeys in Red Lion Street were granted planning permission by Manchester City Council on Thursday (15 December).

But a number of local residents voiced objections to the scheme during the committee meeting. 

Warren Brown, a resident of nearby Church Street, said: ‘Residents generally support the regeneration of the Northern Quarter and specifically the regeneration of this derelict site [but] remain concerned across a variety of issues. We’ve got everything from loss of privacy, overall massing and the disproportionate 11-storey nature of the building – a height which has increased throughout the consultation process. Residents are concerned about how the design fits into the Northern Quarter.’

Brown also expressed concerns about the loss of daylight caused to the surrounding area by the tower.

Plans for the project, which is backed by developer Red Lion Street, were first submitted in February 2016 but were withdrawn over the summer.

A new application was submitted in August, featuring amendments made following a consultation process.

These included a new courtyard for residents, decreasing the number of flats from 40 to 38, and reducing the height of the Union Street side of the building from six to five storeys.

However, Church Street side of the building was increased in height from 10 to 11 storeys.

The redesigned scheme was a reasonable and fair response to the concerns which had been raised

Tom Partridge, architectural assistant and lead designer on the project at NC Architecture, said: ‘Following the consultation with the neighbours, it was generally accepted by all parties, including neighbouring residents, that the redesigned scheme was a reasonable and fair response to the concerns which had been raised.’

But he added: ‘Some residents maintained the position that ultimately no development would be preferable, or only development limited to four storeys – which simply wasn’t a viable option on this site, nor did it meet with the city’s aspirations for the site.’

Despite the opposition, Manchester City Council’s planning committee decided to give the scheme the go-ahead, commenting that it would ‘add activity and vitality to the area and reintegrate the site into its urban context’. The committee added that it would not have an adverse affect on the local conservation area.

The scheme, which will also include 200m² of commercial space, will sit on a site including the former Bull’s Head pub. The pub’s façade will be retained as part of the design to provide an entrance to the building’s apartments on the Union Street side.

The plans are the latest in a series of planning approvals and submissions for residential schemes in the city centre in the last month.

A nine-storey residential building on Angel Street by Cartwright & Gross was given approval after a redesign earlier this week, while plans by Ollier Smurthwaite Architects have also been submitted to build five new towers, ranging from five to 16 storeys in height, in Castlefield, another of Manchester’s conservation areas.

Architect’s view

The design of the scheme is in response to the disparate scales within the Conservation Area and the need to break the mass of the building down into smaller blocks to respond to the very tight urban grain of the historic Georgian city blocks. The rhythm of the structure is expressed in the façade of the building, with the spacing of the columns becoming more compressed as the scale of the building reduces. The material palette of red brick and Cor-ten cladding has been chosen deliberately to reflect the existing historic industrial warehouses synonymous with Manchester and the Smithfield Conservation Area.

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