Councillors approve university plans for new ‘funky’ library building

New Manchester Met library (Hawkins\Brown and Schmidt Hammer Lassen)

Manchester City Council’s planning and highways committee approved Manchester Metropolitan University’s plans for a new library at All Saints on Oxford Road.

The committee ran the rule over five schemes submitted for approval yesterday (15 February 2024) spanning student accommodation, a new university library building, residential units and a homeless shelter. 

One scheme in the Burnage ward of council leader Cllr Bev Craig, was withdrawn after it was recommended by refusal by officers who said Triple Jersey’s plans for the demolition of the B&M Home Store off Kingsway in Burnage lacked affordable homes.

Local councillors also objected to its density and the site access. Planning officers also noted the loss of “important trees” and the scheme’s layout and appearance.

But the transformation of the Oxford Road Corridor continues apace with approval for the new library scheme, which will transform the skyline between the Mancunian Way and All Saints Park.

The planning application was put together by consultants at Deloitte.

The iconic design by architects Hawkins\Brown and Schmidt Hammer Lassen will create a new gateway to the University but also “digitally enabled teaching and research facilities” with flexible break-out spaces.

Vice Chancellor Malcolm Press said: “It’s brilliant news that The Manchester Metropolitan University new iconic library has been given the formal go ahead from Manchester City Council. This brand-new 13-storey landmark building on Oxford Road will be at the heart of our campus.”

He was particular taken that one councillor described the building as “funky”.

He added: “This is just one of the investments that we are making in new facilities for our students and staff, ensuring that our campus, and Manchester, will be a destination of choice for generations to come.”

It will be the home to the Manchester Poetry Library, the North West’s first public poetry library and house a new gallery and event spaces designed for both public and University use.

In recent years the University has completed the Institute of Sport on Oxford Road, the School of Digital Arts, the Arts and Humanities Building on the south side of All Saints Square, while work is currently underway on a new Science Building and the pedestrianisation of All Saints.

Work will start in summer 2024 with full completion by 2028.

Elsewhere, Churchill Retirement Living’s proposed scheme for a 37 flat development in West Didsbury was refused as it was deemed excessive in size.

WUKPG secured approval for a 263-studio Purpose Built Student Accommodation project off Plymouth Grove, and close to the expanding mixed use scheme in Ardwick; a homeless shelter in Wythenshawe was deferred, while One Manchester’s scheme for 109 affordable homes in Newton Heath was approved subject to agreement on the distribution of Section 106 money for local projects.

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