Campaigners call on Christie to rethink Paterson proposals

A residents’ group, backed by a local councillor, has called on The Christie to revise its plans for a world-leading cancer research centre at its campus in Didsbury, arguing the building is “huge” and would “dwarf the surrounding area”.

The 10-storey building, designed by BDP, will replace the existing Paterson which was ravaged by a fire in April 2017.

Demolition is already under way, and a public consultation was held earlier this year on the proposed replacement, which will include 270,000 sq ft of research laboratories, consultant workspace, a biological research unit, and ground floor exhibition and education spaces.

The Christie, working with the University of Manchester and Cancer Research UK, hopes to make the new building “one of the world’s top centres for cancer research” by 2025.

Despite the earlier public consultation, the “Rethink the Paterson” campaign has been launched by a group of local residents, supported by Didsbury West’s Cllr Greg Stanton.

Concerns from the group focus on traffic generation, the size of the build, and pollution; the campaigners also argued the delivery of a tall building in the area would “set a precedent for other massive buildings around the site”.

Instead, the group argues the proposals should be scaled back, or delivered in an alternative location; according to local homeowners, the scheme would be “inappropriate for a residential area”.

To bring the project forward, The Christie has proposed an addendum to its existing strategic planning framework, which was agreed in 2014.

This will allow the Trust to bring forward a planning application for the Paterson Building’s replacement, which is expected in the coming weeks. The addendum to the framework was signed off by Manchester City Council in March.

Cllr Stanton said: “The proposed new building is entirely out of keeping with anything else in the area and would set a dangerous precedent about the height of future builds on-campus and beyond in the locality – it should be rejected by both the council’s executive and planning committee”.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: “No-one is opposed to the rebuilding of the Paterson. However when the council executive approved this proposal in principle they did not appreciate the scale of the building in relation to the rest of the area, which is a vibrant neighbourhood of two and three storey houses. Nor did they have any reliable estimate of the increase in staff numbers or extra vehicles coming into the area.

The proposal flies in the face of previous agreements relating to the Christie site, has implications for the Withington Conservation Area and will undermine the Green Travel Plan for staff parking. The great respect we have for these institutions and their work should be reciprocated.”

Interserve has been chosen as The Christie’s partner for the project through the ProCure22+ framework, and is working alongside subcontractor PP O’Connor on the demolition of the existing fire-damaged building.

The contractor is also providing initial design and technical work which The Christie said would “inform the redevelopment of the building”.

Place North West has contacted The Christie for a response to the campaign’s claims.

Paterson Building

The Paterson Building was devastated by a fire in April 2017

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This is staggering. I’ve seen these campaigners on Facebook and they had very little support from the wider community who overwhelmingly support the Christie in this development. Should we listen to a few nimbys who would hold back a hospital research centre that will save thousands of lives because they don’t like its aesthetic appearance? Their claims on traffic congestion is also a farce as the best way to improve that would be to support better public transport instead of holding back a hospital that is being built to stop people dying from cancer caused by the exhaust fumes of the very same campaigner’s cars. The irony may be that one day these campaigners get cancer but the treatment for them was held back because they held back this development…

By Ey

Surely a smaller building would reduce the capacity for world leading cancer research to take place.

By Christie patient

No one I have spoken to about this objects? Seems a lot of exposure for a small number of people objecting.

By Anonymous

I am a local resident and I wholly support this. It will be great for the area not to mention provide amazing facilities for people fighting cancer. I 100% back it and don’t give a hoot about the size or scale of it. The bigger the better. Screw you Nimbys – I’m a ‘IMBY!’

By Local Resident

I think the design looks good, but agree that a more central and sustainable location would be better the whole of the Christie hospital campus.


To equate valid concerns about the scaling and massing of this proposal to a protest about cancer research is pretty terrible. No one is objecting to the fantastic work that the Christie does….no one.
Like every other development where Planning Permission is sought everyone has the opportunity to voice their legitimate support or concerns in equal measure. No one should be subject to being brow beaten or shouted down on the basis of whatever moral element someone else believes is this most important consideration. All that is being voiced is does the building really need to be such a departure from what was already there and is that appropriate given the low level residential nature of the surrounding area – the same process as all potential developments are subject to.


Ignore the emotional aspect of this application. If this was a facility for the research and production of weapons would it still receive the same support? It might still generate the impact on the local environment and infrastructure. But Cancer has emotive connotations. So the development will go ahead because objectors will be viewed as ‘hindering the treatment of and research into Cancer’.
Local objectors may have perfectly valid reasons to object. The development shouldn’t go ahead just because it is ‘fighting against Cancer’.

By Standards

This hospital is the jewel in Manchester’s crown. A few NIMBYs need to hope they never need its skills. The Christie is one of the World’s great research centres and if they need to build a replica of the Empire State Building there, then so be it.

By Elephant

I sincerely hope the naysayers are ignored, the Christy is world renowned and needs a building to meet its needs.

By Interested observer

Maybe the building should go ahead because it’s a great piece of architecture and because it adds scale and definition to a dreary and non descriptive bit of townscape. In reality it’ll have very little impact on the existing community won’t it?

Let’s focus on the positive aspects of the scale and design shall we?

By Chris Tie

As mentioned nobody disputes the wonderful work the Christie do, least of all myself after having both parents successfully overcome cancer. However what needs to be considered is that the original framework as agreed in 2014 catered for a replacement for the Paterson irrespective of the unfortunate fire, at that time it did not need to be as high as it is so you have to wonder what has changed in the interim.

The surrounding and predominantly residential areas of Withington and Didsbury have for a long time been happy to sit alongside the The Christie and coexist. We all agree the Christie is a world class facility doing great work but it needs to strike a balance with its surroundings and not alienate those that live in close proximity. It should also be noted that since the fire at the Paterson that function of the hospital has been successfully delivered from Alderley Park.

One feels that irrespective of the opinions of local people this will happen, even in the current, unresolved and seemingly inefficient design that has been presented. Largely because delivering additional jobs in M20 as opposed to Alderley improves MCC’s KPIs and the precedent of a 45m tower in residential outskirts will allow those in the Town Hall to continue to their hopes of an NYC-esque skyline for the City.

By With In Gton

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