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SimpsonHaugh reworks decade-old Manchester plans

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SimpsonHaugh and Partners has come up with new plans for a site on the edge of Manchester’s Gay Village - 10 years after the practice began working on proposals for the plot

The AJ120 outfit originally won planning for a heavily-glazed, crystalline scheme - then backed by West Properties - in 2007.

However the part-built office, residential and hotel development fell victim to the recession and was abandoned the following year leaving just the foundations of the three building blocks and a four-level basement car park completed.

The plot was later snapped up by developer Urban&Civic and reworked plans for the land at the corner of Princess Street and Whitworth Street were revealed at a public exhibition last week. 

Urban&Civic said it had been given ‘a rare opportunity to present an alternative scheme that is more in keeping with current aspirations’.

The revised plans now feature two residential buildings housing 240 ‘high quality apartments’, a four star hotel with ground floor shops and restaurants and a new public square. 

The scheme will retain the 300 space basement car park.

According to the developer, the reworked design will ‘create a contemporary reinterpretation of the historic contextual buildings within the Whitworth Street Conservation Area.

The street-facing elevations on all three buildings will feature ‘a simple, expressed glazed terracotta grid’ which references the faience on the facades of nearby historic buildings. The colours proposed aim to ‘respond to the red brick and terracotta of Whitworth Street and Canal Street’ and the ‘sandstone tones’ of the palazzo warehouse buildings along Princess Street.

Andrew Lavin, Development Manager for Urban&Civic said: “Our reworked scheme comprises a high quality, mixed-use development consisting of three buildings sitting over the existing four-level basement car park.  Our vision is to create a vibrant development that complements and enhances the historic context and sensitively reconnects the site to its surroundings.

‘The introduction of retail and restaurant units on the ground floor level showcasing some of the City’s finest and most eclectic artisans along with a landscaped public square will help reinvigorate and re-energise this part of the City.’

Previous story (AJ 01.06.06)

Ian Simpson in bitter row over Manchester tower - images

Ian Simpson Architects is caught in a bitter dispute between local residents and developers over the design of one of its schemes in Manchester.

The project includes a 24-storey mixed-use glass tower, which is at the centre of the row because local residents believe the building would ‘add nothing to the passionate and vibrant community’.

The scheme is being backed by West Properties and is on Brazil Street, in the heart of one of Manchester’s conservation areas.

The residents’ group has criticised West Properties’ method of public consultation over the development, claiming the developers to be ‘arrogant’.

Residents’ group leader Chris Speck, said: ‘They [West Properties] described it as an exhaustive and robust planning consultation, but they only consulted the Village Business Association and the Gay Pride organisers. The only contact they had with the local residents was a questionnaire, which was laughable.

‘The questionnaire asked which we would prefer to see on the site - a 24-hour taxi rank, or good architecture, which is simply ridiculous. The consultation hasn’t taken in the local community at all.’

According to Speck, the site to be developed is surrounded by Grade II-listed buildings, and is the first residential area to be redeveloped in the city centre.

He said: ‘The people who live in this area have a love of buildings. We have nothing against redevelopment of the site, we just feel it needs to be sensitive to the surrounding area.’

Despite this, Ian Simpson is adamant that his scheme will be beneficial to the area, and believes it has the backing of the majority.

He said: ‘We have spoken with more than 600 to 700 people, and it is only a small minority who are trying to create as big a fuss as they can.

‘The problem is the site has been unused for 15 years and they’re used to having nothing next to them. The only development there they would back is a park.

‘The scheme will really reinvigorate the whole gay quarter, adding restaurants, cafés and an art gallery. And the tallest tower may have 24 levels but in traditional terms it is only 12 to 13 storeys high.’

If the planning application is successful, West Properties hopes to start on site next May.

by Richard Vaughan

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