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SimpsonHaugh Manchester skyscraper scrapped

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The developer behind the massive St John’s development in Manchester has scrapped plans for a 54-storey skyscraper by SimpsonHaugh and Partners at the heart of the new neighbourhood

Manchester Quays – a partnership between Allied London and Manchester City Council – said homebuyers would be refunded their deposits for flats within St John’s Place Tower.

SimpsonHaugh received planning permission for the tower in 2016 but the project’s backers said the scheme suffered from ‘unresolved development issues’. 

’The legal conditions within apartment purchasers’ sale contracts have not been met,’ the organisation added in a statement. ’Manchester Quays has therefore decided to operate the termination clauses in these sale contracts and repay all deposits, as it is entitled to do.’

The tower was part of a mixed use scheme, dubbed St John’s Place, which was set to provide 387 residential units, 313 hotel rooms and 14 serviced apartments as well as shops, offices, restaurants and cafés. This all formed part of the even larger St John’s neighbourhood, masterplanned by SimpsonHaugh.

St John’s Place was warmly welcomed by Manchester City Council planning officers, who said in 2016: ‘The proposed buildings and associated public realm would be of a high quality and would significantly contribute to the high quality of design in the area.’

Heritage watchdog Historic England raised no objection to the scheme, despite its proximity to the Grade I-listed Liverpool Road Station, saying: ‘The architectural design of the development means that there would be significant contrast in form and materials and sufficient distance to prevent the main tower from exerting an overly dominant influence.’

But a spokesperson for Manchester Quays said this week: ‘St John’s is a complex development due to the interaction between sites and the mixed use of the masterplan. There have been a number of development issues around the masterplan as a whole, but also interface issues between uses and sites that together have culminated in an uncertain program for the some of the residential elements.

Issues between uses and sites have culminated in an uncertain program

’Our priority at this stage of the cycle is to create certainty around our work and build out our plans.’

They added: ’St John’s is an exciting and important development and as we develop, we remain focused on creating certainty and taking opportunities to improve the long-term sustainability of our plans.’ 

Facade treqtment on st johns

Facade treatment on St John’s Place

SimpsonHaugh has been prolifically active in Manchester recently. In October the practice unveiled plans for a 21-storey hotel in the city, a stone’s throw from the practice’s 47-storey Beetham Tower.

Manchester City Council last year approved SimpsonHaugh’s transformation of the Great Northern Warehouse area of the city, while former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff unveiled plans for a major residential scheme in the city featuring a 35-storey tower designed by the practice.

SimpsonHuagh earlier this month submitted plans for five residential towers on a former British Gas offices site in Leeds.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Not a very clear explanation of why this building is apparently no longer viable at the stage when home purchasers have paid deposits - the City Council is one of the partners in the project, and surely a great deal more transparency is needed on the nature of the 'issues' that have blocked such an apparently well designed development.

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