£100m city centre office scheme back before council’s planning committee

The proposed office scheme
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Manchester City Council planning officers have once again recommended approval of a £100m office scheme which councillors rejected a year ago.

At the January 2021 meeting the committee was told the proposed 17-storey block on Deansgate offered more than 135,000 sq ft of office space and 5,000 sq ft for a ground floor restaurant or shop, and would have replaced an existing 40,500 sq ft office building acquired by applicant Kames Property Income Fund in 2020 for £11m.

Speaking on behalf of Kames, Chris Sinton, of CBRE told the committee the development represented a £100m investment and would deliver £2.3m-worth of business rates per annum. He said the scheme would regenerate the area of Deansgate near St Ann’s Square, and was “acceptable in planning terms and should be approved”.

However, there were more than 100 individual complaints from tenants in the neighbouring One Deansgate residential tower who objected to the height and mass of the proposed office block, arguing they would suffer loss of privacy, forcing them to install blinds which would reduce daylight into the building.

Councillors refused the application by 10 votes to four, and one abstention.

But the scheme is back before next Thursday’s committee (January 20) with a recommendation, once more, to approve from planning officers.

The applicant consulted with One Deansgate residents last October, presenting several alternative proposals.

Officers have recommended approval, with council notes on the scheme saying: “Officers have worked in a positive and proactive manner based on seeking solutions to problems arising in relation to dealing with the planning application. Appropriate conditions have been attached to the approval.”

The notes add: “The proposal would have a positive impact on the regeneration of this part of the city centre, contribute to the supply of Grade A office accommodation, provide significant investment in the city centre supporting the economy, and create both direct and indirect employment.

“The proposal is in accordance with relevant National and Local Planning Policies. In addition, a convincing, well considered approach to the design, scale, architecture and appearance of the building has resulted in a high quality development that would make a positive contribution to the streetscene. Any harm to heritage assets would be less than substantial and would be outweighed by the public benefits of the scheme.”

The Rochdale Road plans

Another scheme before next week’s committee also slated for approval is a plan to create 237 new homes on Rochdale Road, within a part 11-, part 13-storey building, and two blocks of three-storey duplexes, as well as a commercial element and basement car parking.

The applicant is Lymm-based Portwood Developments.

Despite seven objections, on the grounds of loss of sunlight, poor architectural design and a lack of resources such as medical centres, community centres, and police officers to support the area’s increase in residential schemes, the development is recommended for approval.

The committee notes say: “The proposal would have a positive impact on the regeneration of this part of the city centre and would contribute to the supply of high quality housing including on site affordable housing.

“There would be minimal impact on the surrounding buildings in terms of daylight and overlooking distances are reasonable and will not result in a loss of privacy.”