Downing plots 2020 start for 44-storey co-living tower

The developer is set to submit plans for its 2,204-bed co-living scheme at Manchester’s First Street next month, with a 44-storey tower the centrepiece of the SimpsonHaugh-designed proposals.

Downing bought Plot 11 at First Street from Patrizia in March this year for around £18m and has wasted no time in advancing plans to develop the plot.

Under the proposals, showcased at a consultation this week, the developer is proposing more than 2,200 bed spaces, split between 11 different accommodation types ranging from compact studios to five-bedroom apartments.

The tallest tower planned is 44 storeys plus ground level, with a series of smaller blocks stepping down in height towards the Mancunian Way.

The co-living proposals include 1,113 apartments, divided between one, two, three, four, and five-bedroom homes, along with 1,091 studio apartments, split between various types.

The smallest of these, the ‘compact studios’, come in at around 166 sq ft, with standard studios measuring around 215 sq ft. The largest, the ‘deluxe’ studio type, comes in at more than 269 sq ft.

Amenity spaces at ground floor and podium level include a gym, restaurants, and leisure space; at ground floor, these will be open to the public, while podium-level facilities will be reserved for residents.

Minimal parking is proposed, with only 30 car parking spaces put forward with the intention that most residents will take advantage of the site’s central location for travelling around the city centre. A significant number of cycle parking spaces have been put forward along with the potential to host a bike-share scheme at the site.

An initial round of public consultation took place earlier this month, and feedback calling for a greater focus on public realm have been weaved into the design; a proposed public square sits at the heart of the scheme, which will be significantly bigger than First Street’s Tony Wilson Place.

Following the latest consultation, a planning application is expected in November, and subject to consent, Downing hopes to start work on the scheme next year. The build is expected to last two-and-a-half years.

Under its model, Downing will act as both developer and contractor for the scheme. Nearby, the company is also currently using its in-house construction arm to build the 32-storey River Street tower, also designed by SimpsonHaugh; funding for this project came from a £215m deal agreed with Barclays, HSBC, and NatWest.

Patrizia’s previous planning consent for 624 apartments in 26 and 24 storey blocks designed by CallisonRTKL is still current but will be overridden by the fresh application.

Along with SimpsonHaugh, the professional team also includes planner Deloitte and landscape architect Open.

Downing’s proposals for the co-living scheme are the latest to come forward in the city centre; Vita Group revealed plans for a 32-storey tower at Water Street earlier this month. This will include a mix of 388 flats delivered in two, three, and four-bedroom clusters, along with studios.

Downing First Street Plot 11 Public Realm

A sketch of the proposed public realm

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Looks absolutely brilliant, they’ve managed to find space for public realm that First Street never bothered with

By Dan

Designed using state of the art computer aided design technology! From 1993.

By Manchurian

Will sail through with Sir Howard’s planners on board.

By Dave

The massing looks striking and exciting, but I cannot help but find it incredibly unnerving that another massive scheme by SimsponHaugh is proposed in an area that is nothing but SH towers to start (with the massing suggesting this looks very Beetham like, along with the hotel proposed by the Beetham tower, the Viadux scheme next door, etc etc). It is just absolute overkill and I personally feel that (Wren aside) no architect warrants having a monopoly over a city’s skyline. At least the cluster emerging at Greengate has a mix of styles and design studios. The recent towers are some of the best going up in the country at the moment but that doesn’t warrant every tower being as such (in my opinion) – variety is key.


That CGI doesnt give off the design to it’s pfull potential. There are better images which show a slightly curved footprint. It really isn’t just a rectangle like it appears to be in the top image

By sherbert_lemon

Looks good. get it built.


Well other towers with the same design have sailed through planning previously so is there even any point of submitting a planning application? #brokenplanningsystem

By Anonymous

Manchester is so ambitious. The public realm looks brilliant.

By Elephant

Not my cup of tea.

By Liver fella

These “co-living” style studios are simply a mechanism to circumvent prescribed space standards. 166sq.ft is 15sq.m, less than half the minimum size deemed acceptable for single person occupancy accommodation. Throwing a few sofas in the lobby and a gym on the ground floor shouldn’t mean we can disregard the space standards.

While the scheme does look great I fear we’re not creating the high quality living conditions residents need.

By RabbitHutch

Yet another soulless uninspiring pile of glass. Hopefully the actual proposal will look much better than what is shown in this article.

By Z

15m2 apartments, really??


it will always be called MANCHESTER

By Anonymous

@Z the majority are all the same, they have very little redeeming features from one to the next. There is a scattershot of tall buildings now with little joined up planning or cohesion of the surrounding environment. As someone said the other day it’s investment, but at any cost. Yes Manchester is building tall, it’s pushing ahead quicker than other cities other than London at present. But many other cities (Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds) are doing also. It will be those cities that create a true cityscape that and a vision to stand out. Save a few new buildings in Manchester, many are just anytown basic tower block-by-numbers. This seems on these visuals to also fit that bill.

By OldYack

The street and cityscape is amongst some of the most vibrant and interesting that this country has to offer. Which is one of the reasons the city is a popular as it is. I have a feeling you may not know the city very well and just read the headlines of the towers. Scattershot it is not, have a look into the various frameworks.

By @OldYack

The usual jealous, we hate Manchester crowd are on here in their droves. I know how London feels now. Ridiculous comments about other regional cities doing better. Are these people for real? Liverpool has an established skyline which is indeed iconic but Leeds and Birmingham? Leeds is nowhere and Birmingham as hideous as it ever was. I drove in from West Brom last month and could not believe how grotty everywhere was. The Skyline around Knott Mill is world class.

By Elephant

Excellent design it will look great in the First Street location although I am sure the Guardian will be able to run a negative article about it.

By Lenny1968

So this is basically a student scheme dressed up as co living. I thought the planners were strongly against student in this part of the City??

By Really

Apart from the student accommodations literally next door to this development you mean?

By ReallyReally

The planning system isn’t perfect, and debate on the subject is a positive thing, but to suggest everything ‘sails through planning’ is too simplistic and ignores the numerous pre-app meetings, design reviews and engagement with planning officers (and all the design iterations inbetween) that take place before an application is submitted.

By A bit of balance

@Elephant, you seem to have miss-understood, I live on the periphery of Manchester, it is my main city to visit, shop, and where I work. Other cities may not be throwing up talls at the rate Manchester currently is, no one said they are ‘doing better’, but they will follow. Some attention to detail, variation and redeeming features wouldnt go a miss from one block to the next, I just don’t feel for some designs there is enough. Just because its over 40 floors doesn’t make it a nice building. Not all criticism is a personal attack…

By OldYack

Old Yack that’s nonsense, Manchester is creating whole new districts with different character to each other and new streetscapes, Oxford Road including Circle Square, Mayfield, Kampus and New Square near Piccadilly, First Street, St Johns, Chapel Street and Middlewood Locks, Greengate, NOMA and Angel Meadows, New Bailey, Ancoats, Brazennose Street, New Castlefield, Great Jackson St. All that needs doing is the Arndale, the NQ and the Gardens which admittedly might never happen, the worst part is the very centre.

By Floyd

Point taken OldYack.

By Elephant

Downing is a Liverpool developer and so is Beetham who kicked it all off in Manchester, after Liverpool refused their tower on Old Hall Street. We got a smaller Beetham tower instead. The important thing in Liverpool is to get the right height in the right place. Pall Mall can take more height and Elliot is doing a great job there, but we need to be very careful that it steps up gradually from the river, particularly to the north side where most of the tall buildings will be. I don’t follow Manchester as closely but I was impressed by the number of tall buildings going up as I went through last week on the train, and maybe this is what Manchester needs. But having lived there for many years when I was younger I know what Manchester needs most of all is space, and I do think it’s important in Manchester to think carefully about where you put these towers and how they work with the spaces around them.

By Liverpolitan

@Floyd, the names may change, but the styles, the place making and the variation is very little, tall square with glass. It’s not a uniquely Manchester issue, but because of the rate change, it has all the more impact here. Circle square could literally be anywhere, its a boring featureless mass. I did say there are exceptions, such as One Angel Square, but more is needed. I don’t why would all shouldn’t challenge for better…

By OldYack

If you think that Circle Square could be anywhere you need your head testing

By Floyd

OldYack, you suggested Birmingham, Leeds and Liverpool will be the cities which will create a true cityscape and a vision to stand out. In your opinion what do you think those cities are doing differently to Mcr ?

By @OldYack

The view from Middlebrook locks is something really special. The momentum now is unstoppable in Manchester.I cannot believe that there is anyone who is not mind blown by Deansgate square.It looks like a mirage from Hulme Park.

By Elephant

What I suggested is that Manchester is currently streaming ahead of those in terms of tall build, but they will follow. I’m suggesting that we take full and greater consideration to what we do build, so we aren’t a test bed for those cities to learn from our mistakes. I just think developers should be pushed a bit harder on their designs. It’s not like the city is struggling to get interest is it? I don’t think it would scare them away.

@Floyd, you’re clearly very fond of that scheme, maybe you have some vested interest, my personal opinion is that its pretty boring at that park will be largely overshadowed. Try and not take all critique to heart eh?

By OldYack

Circle square is pretty dull visually to be fair


Circle Square is alright, that doesn’t mean it could be built anywhere, you keep changing your statement and not addressing the responses, clearly out of your depth

By Floyd

Personally, I think Deansgate South are the best towers in the UK.
I live between Liverpool and Manchester and visit Leeds regularly.
Manchester really has pushed to another level.
Not too sure of how anyone can say Manchester wouldn’t be as good as the other cities, as it’s only just getting started itself. The other cities don’t even really have much of a skyline, especially Leeds.
All the other cities must be waiting to see what Manchester does… impressive…

By L

I’m in somewhat of agreement with what OldYack is saying in challenging for more considered architecture. No one has said every new building is bad, but not everything is good either. You could take a snapshot visual of that Circle Square scheme and it could literally be anywhere. There’s a lot of bland value engineered architecture about not strictly just in Manchester. People are ignorant about Birmingham which is making some great changes, Liverpool is certainly on the up but has some catching up to do, the triple towers there look great and no one can deny their skyline which is iconic and recognised worldwide. Leeds is the best place to live though, most friendly 😉

By ReggieTheRed

I think Manchester is the nicest, especially Spinningfields and Salford Quays


@L, Liverpool doesn’t have much of a skyline? It has one of the most recognisable in the country, europe and beyond. Behave yourself. Manchester has some big builds going up but still show many people a image outside the UK not many will scream oh that’s Manchester

By LionelRichTea

Actually I’m with L on this.
Not really sure anywhere in the UK has much of a skyline except for London, which is horrible but getting better.
Suppose it’s all subjective though.

By Trevor St

Liverpool doesn’t have a skyline, It has a big river and one tall building

By Get real

Liverpool’s famous skyline? I had to actually Google it.
It’s literally 3 or 4 towers and the Liver Building, as nice as it is.

By Ooooshh

@Oooosh says more about your sheltered life than anything else. Liverpool’s skyline is instantly recognisable to many beyond our shores.

By John

What about the skyline of Chester, York and Cambridge all great skylines judges by the new rules we’ve just made up

By A

Who are these beyond our shores who instantly recognise the Liverpool Skyline, seriously ? NYC, San Fran, Hong Kong, Sydney…yes, largely based on exposure and instantly identifiable buildings, but come on, Liverpool ?

By @John

Liverpool’s skyline improves every time a building is added because of its vista.There’s quite a few tall buildings being built a present which will move it on so much, add Everton’s new stadium and it’s going to look really impressive, especially when the world’s biggest cruise liners are. It’s a work in progress where the end result will be on another level, the vista and the river traffic alone will see to that, add in sunsets and sunrises and it’s spectacular.

By Anonymous

Well to be fair you just hit the nail on the head, instantly recognisable buildings. The Liver building is that, the three graces, along with Anglican Cathedral, St Johns Beacon, the collection of buildings, unique buildings and the topography running down to the river are just that. It’s what makes it unique. It has a skyline, I didn’t say it was as big, or as vast a scale as Hong Kong, Sydney, you’re pointing to Capital cities. But Liverpool has its own unique setting, whether you like it or not.

By John

Guys honestly, Liverpool’s invisible skyline is world famous

By King Kong

The Liverpool Skyline improves with every building added mainly because it currently looks like the city consists of about eight buildings.

By Logic

The Skyline of Liverpool was the last or first glimpse of the UK or indeed Europe for many millions of refugees, immigrants/emmigrants,soldiers, prisoners and travellers for hundreds of years arriving and leaving the port.
So the lasting image many of these souls had was of Liverpool, now other cities around the world have signature buildings of great height, these other skylines receive more attention shall we say.
Back in the 60’s Liverpool’s skyline became synonymous with merseybeat and all that it contained.
Also it has attracted attention in several tv shows and movies, so it is fair to say it still has some relevance to different types of people.Not only the waterfront, but the cathedrals and St John’s beacon provide it with a strong and spacious vista. The trouble with a lot of new buildings everywhere is the blandness and total disregard for the environment they are set in.

By Man on bicycle

I have to disagree with John about Liverpool. I think it is the only city other than Edinburgh which is instantly recognisable from pictures in Britain. However, Manchester is so far ahead of the other regional cities now it is a pointless discussion.

By Elephant

I have to disagree with John about Liverpool. I think it is the only city other than Edinburgh which is instantly recognisable from pictures in Britain.Even London has to be at a certain angle, although the Shard makes it stand out more from the air now. However, Manchester is so far ahead of the other regional cities now it is a pointless discussion. The ludicrous decision to put Channel 4 in Leeds rather than Mediacity is one they will soon regret.

By Elephant

‘Size’ is obviously important in Manchester looking at these comments. Stack em and rack em! as long as its built in Manchester. But quality is what should be the goal, otherwise all cities, except Liverpool, will look like Manchester………what joy!!

By Anonymous

Bet Downing’s get built before Freddy Flintoff’s.

By Oscar

Buildings like the three graves are ten a penny on mainland Europe.
There are not many skylines around the world which are instantly recognisable the world over. And most of them are due to their coverage in international media and film. Outside of London, there are no internationally recognised skylines in this country.
And why has yet another positive Mcr article been taken over by the bitters down the road?

By Anon

Anon you do not think Edinburgh is instantly recognisable? One place which is recognisable is Blackpool. Perhaps not the most glamorous but very distinct.

By Elephant

“Ten a penny”? I don’t think so. Liverpool’s skyline features not just The Liver Building, but the anglican cathedral, the crown of the catholic cathedral and St John’s Beacon. Even without towers these buildings are more characterful and iconic than virtually any other city bar London and Edinburgh in the U.K.

This obsession with tall buildings is juvenile to my mind. And so many just look like re-envisaged council tower blocks of the past – but now for relatively well paid young singles and couples ( & foreign students). Towers in themselves do not create a memorable or attractive skyline. In fact some of the world’s best skylines features the spires or domes of religious buildings, as well as other historical, and geographical, features.

At least if you are going to have them, have them all in one central district like Paris does, or like London does ( to an extent). Manchester’s towers are starting to encircle the city, creating an uncomfortable and unnatural juxtaposition between the city centre and the housing estates beyond. And towers tend not to create good streetscapes at ground level. And by nature tend to be anonymous and full of transient populations.

By Anonymous

Internationally, and from a Skyline perspective I don’t, no. We of course are all used to these sights being within the UK and Ireland. But no, I would not expect people in South America or Asia for example, to instantly recognise Edinburgh or Liverpool at images of their respective skylines. When would these ever really be shown in their media, TV, film, magazines etc compared to the likes of those cities stated further up.

By Anon@Elephant

The truth is most people haven’t got a clue about ‘skylines’ or any particular interest in them. If you presented people with dark silhouettes of city skylines or of iconic buildings in certain cities, many could probably name Paris ( Eiffel Tower); Rome ( St Peter’s & the Colosseum); New York ( Empire State Building & Statue of Liberty); maybe Rio De Janeiro ( Sugar Loaf Mountain/Christ the Redeemer)…but apart from that most would be hard pressed to even guess accurately at any other. Maybe Barcelona ( La Sagrada Familia).

When I see contemporary, and developing, skyline images of Manchester, I never think ” attractive” for one minute. In fact it always looks quite grim – from a purely aesthetic point of view. Manchester is better at street level.

By Anonymous

Shoebox flats in the sky…

By EggMan

Some Liverpool haters on here:( Liverpool from the water is just fabulous, my US and Canadian friends love it. But it’s not just the buildings, it’s the sense of place, and the lovely people. Building soulless and dehumanising glass and steel palaces doesn’t make up for it.


By Liver lad

Manchester is getting further and further ahead of the rest

By tom

I cannot believe someone well travelled and educated abroad would not recognise Edinburgh. It is by a country mile the most beautiful city in Britain and adorns calendars everywhere. Liverpool perhaps would not be as obvious but compared to our other regional cities it would be more iconic because of the waterfront.Nobody would recognise Leeds,Birmingham or Sheffield and despite Manchester‘s boom it still wouldn’t be recognised by people in China unless you showed a picture of Old Trafford.

By Elephant

Hello folks, as much as we like debate, unless it’s discussing the scheme in the article rather than whether Edinburgh’s skyline is better than Liverpool’s, we won’t be approving any more comments.
Thanks, Charlie (deputy editor)

By Charlie Schouten

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