Developer hits stalemate over Hotspur Press 

A joint venture between MCR Property Group and Blue Dog Property seeks to change its approved plans to build 170 flats at the former printing press on Gloucester Street in Manchester, but talks with the council have broken down. 

The JV wants to swap its current residential scheme for a hotel or student accommodation due to viability concerns but Manchester City Council is understood to be resisting the proposal. 

The project, which features a 28-storey tower to partially replace the 56,000 sq ft Hotspur Press warehouse, was approved in principle in December 2018. But the council finally awarded it consent last week following the conclusion of section 106 negotiations.

However, the JV is understood to have been in talks with various parties about redesigning the scheme, with a shift away from residential.

Nick Lake, asset manager of MCR Property Group, said: “MCR prides itself on being responsive to fluctuating market trends and this agility enables us to ensure we are delivering sustainable projects. Hotspur Press is no different – it is a phenomenal location and we would always [like to] keep an open mind.”

Earlier this year, MCR and Blue Dog were in talks with an unnamed hotel operator with a view to bringing forward a different proposal for the site. Architect Hodder + Partners – which also designed the residential tower – drew up indicative designs for a hotel scheme but it was not advanced. 

More recently, the JV and its project team has held discussions with Manchester City Council’s planning officers over fresh proposals to develop the site as student accommodation. 

However, the council is not keen on moving away from the consented scheme, Stephen Hodder, partner of Hodder + Partners, told Place North West. 

Hodder expressed concerns over the future of the building, saying there is a “real risk” that it could fall into a state of disrepair if the developers do not reach an agreement with the council soon. 

MCR bought the site in 2015 and joined forces with Blue Dog Property in a JV called Elmloch to bring forward the scheme.

Under the JV’s approved plans, the Hotspur Press warehouse, built in 1801, would be partially demolished. A 28-storey tower containing 171 apartments would be built behind the warehouse.

The tower would include one- and two-bed apartments alongside four commercial units on the ground floor for retail or restaurants.

A public square is proposed to open up access from Gloucester Street through to First Street, as well as providing space along the River Medlock.

Manchester City Council has been contacted for comment.

Your Comments

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I wondered what had happened to this.

By Anonymous

Does this mean that developers are getting out of city centre residential?

By Mike Riddell

The proposals don’t look terrible (although I think the tower is a bit crude). This story is a strong indication that city centre residential is floundering. Realistically, £400 / sq ft for a flat without outside space or parking is excessive and people simply won’t pay it.

By Observer

The main issue with Hotspur Press is its high development cost. They are retaining the façade of the building but its a shame that more couldn’t be saved ( I understand it’s in a poor state of repair). I’m pretty sure loft-style apartments would sell really well but they’re probably not financially viable. It’s in the right location for student lets but there seem to be so many of these schemes I can understand why Manchester council are reluctant.

By Jon P

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