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Manchester launches city-wide design guide for new housing

Hodder manchester cambridge street peter cook 0012
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Manchester City Council has published new design quality guidance for all new residential developments in the city

The Manchester Residential Quality Guidance document has been drawn up by architect CallisonRTKL, Deloitte Real Estate and design practice Planit-IE, with the support of a multidisciplinary board chaired by former RIBA president Stephen Hodder.

The local authority, which aims to deliver 25,000 new homes over the next 10 years, said it expected all developers, architects and planners to refer to the guidance throughout the pre-planning, planning and development process as Manchester ‘prepared for significant growth with a vision to be one of the top world cities by 2025’.

Hodder, chairman of Manchester-based Hodder+Partners said: ‘From its inception, the guidance was pitched to push developers to excel, to deliver housing that residents will be proud of and to change wholesale the approach to new housing in the city.

‘Prodigious home building should not mean a loss of quality, and through this guidance we hope not only to ensure that, but to push the boundaries of design for all new homes.’

The council insists that the guidance does not replicate existing standards set out in policy and legislation.

However, while the approved document will not impose a rigid ‘one size fits all’ standard it does introduce the concept of ‘comply or justify’, with developers expected to give reasons if their proposals vary from the guidance.

The guidance was created specifically for Manchester, though the team looked extensively at guides drawn up by other cities across the UK.

Manchester Residential Quality Guidance: nine key criteria for new housing schemes

  • Make it Manchester
  • Make it bring people together
  • Make it animate street and spaces
  • Make it easy to get around
  • Make it work with the landscape
  • Make it practical
  • Make it futureproof
  • Make it a home
  • Make it happen


David Birkbeck, chief executive of Design for Homes
’I welcome the guide but Urban Splash’s hoUSes sold fast in Manchester, not least because there’s no risk of opaque management charges. Even fair charges are pushing £100pcm to £200pcm which kills city centre living for many.

’Manchester’s Igloo developed an apartment-density building in Newcastle that removed this cost, while in London and Dublin prototypes designing out common parts for those on lower incomes are proliferating. The guide in chapter 10 says ‘consider the management implications of design’ but with all the clever prototypes to point to. That’s very vague.’


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