Manchester’s planning committee voted against two major developments in and around the city center at a major town hall meeting on Tuesday (May 31). Plans for a 34-story tower between the Northern Quarter and Ancoats were thwarted along with a bid to build a 261-bed student complex in Hulme.
Decisions on a 15-story tower in Store Street and a listed office building in Fountain Street were also postponed so councilors could visit those sites. All of these applications will return to the Planning Committee at another meeting, allowing officers to prepare another report to address concerns.
Campaigns from Block the Block filled the council chamber to show their opposition to student housing at the former Gamecock pub. However, they left the meeting unsure whether to celebrate the result.
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Planning Director Julie Roscoe explained that the applications that city council members voted against have actually been postponed to the next meeting. She said: “I just want to avoid any confusion because the application needs to return.
“It has not actually been rejected at this meeting. We will be asked to bring it back and comment on the concerns raised.
“It will appear on a different agenda and I do not want anyone to be confused about it.”
Councilors questioned claims by developer Curlew that there was a need for more student housing in the area, which is close to universities. This followed speeches given on behalf of Aquarius Estate residents and by local councilors who raised concerns about the 13-storey tower blocking sunlight.
They also claimed that the building itself would be ‘bland’ and ‘uninspiring’. The committee was “willing to reject” the application on the grounds that the height of the new block would be detrimental to the area and “intrusive”.
Concerns were also raised about the lack of disabled parking on site. The committee came to a similar conclusion about the plans for 485 apartments, including a 34-story tower in Port Street, giving cause for concern over the scale.
Labor councilor Sam Wheeler claimed that developer SimpsonHaugh could afford to contribute more than the £ 1m offered for affordable housing outside the site. He also criticized the M1 Piccadilly project on Store Street, which proposed building a 15-story tower with 54 apartments, none of which would be affordable.
Piccadilly Parish Councilor claimed that the £ 125,000 offered for affordable housing elsewhere would not buy a single apartment in this scheme. A decision on the development, which has been supported by Liverpool footballer Naby Keita, has been postponed to allow the planning committee to visit the site.
Plans to rebuild a Grade II-built office block in the center – but retain its Victorian facade – were also put on hold to allow for a site visit before a decision is made. The rest of the applications on the agenda for the two-and-a-half-hour meeting – which included a roof extension at On Bar in Canal Street, a petrol station extension in Levenshulme and a new café bar in Fallowfield – were approved.