Downing 8

SimpsonHaugh designed the First Street project for Downing. Credit: planning documents

GALLERY | Downing submits plans for 45-storey co-living tower

Developer and contractor Downing has put in its plans for a 2,224-bedroom co-living scheme at Manchester’s First Street, including a 45-storey tower alongside three blocks stepped in height down towards Mancunian Way.

The SimpsonHaugh-designed proposal is for Plot 11 on the edge of First Street, a site bought by Downing from Patrizia in March last year for around £18m. Deloitte and Open are also advising Downing.

The scheme totals more than 2,200 bedrooms, alongside 44,000 sq ft of amenity and surrounding public realm.

The flats would be split between 11 different accommodation types, ranging from compact studios to five-bedroom apartments.

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

Downing would act as developer and contractor, and at public consultation events last year signalled its intention to start on the build this year.

According to the planning application put to Manchester City Council, the scheme is targeted at young people occupying shared houses in suburbs, key workers, recent graduates, visiting academics and researchers.

Nearby, the company is 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.

While the co-living trend is gathering momentum, Manchester City Council has signalled its caution regarding the model.

In a report published last December, the council outlined concerns on the rise of co-living proposals in the city.

“Given that the product is untested in Manchester, it is not considered appropriate to approve a significant level of co-living accommodation,” a report to Manchester’s executive committee by strategic growth and development director, Eddie Smith said.

“It is suggested that co-living should only be supported in a very limited number of places, in restricted amounts, within the city centre and under specific circumstances.”

Vita Group is also proposing a 32-storey co-living scheme under its Union brand, within St Johns.

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Proper people, Downing. They do what they say they’ll do, their handshake is their bond, and they treat folk right. Look forward to seeing this get built.

By Sceptical

Horrendous, would be a suitable proposal for a high rise jail if they existed.

By Gaz

Developers like Downing and Renaker are turning Manchester into the worst city in England.

By Dan

With extremely high-end unitised glazing (and I mean Permasteelisa top-end £££££) I think it would look smart.

By North by North-West

Potential stunning gateway scheme – wow!!

Don’t skimp on the façade.

By North by North-West

I like the greenery on this one.

By Elephant

Singapore eat your heart out

By Anonymous

Only one retail unit, that’s poort

By Floyd

Looks good. Can we finally get this site built out.


Another day another generic looking, oversized development designed by SimpsonHaugh in Manchester… The greenery is welcome but it seems to be elevated from the street. I wonder how usable it will be for the public.

By Sal

Studio apartments are fine and serve a purpose, but as soon as ‘co-living’ apartments are mentioned it should be seen as a red flag. A communal seating area in the lobby of the building should not mean that it is okay to provide studio apartments below national space standards. We’re seeing apartments as small as 20sqm being built in Liverpool and Manchester right now. The ‘co-living’ loophole needs to be closed ASAP.

By Anonymous

Does Manchester really need this dehumanising edifice?


By Liver lad

Exciting proposals. Fingers crossed this is delivered.

By Karly

Did not even need to read the article to know it was a SimpsonHaugh rectangular box. Yawn. Seriously, why do all the developers in city insist on using them?

By New Wave

Awful design, awful concept. 2,200 living in one building????

By Acelius

The quality of these visuals is embarrassing! They look like some 6th form student has had a go as part of a school project.

By Steve

We are still waiting for the green wall promised on the first building built on that plot.

By Barny

Will be great if they get the quality of the glazing and the cladding right. If Dan is wittering on and crying his usual bitter tears then it must be worth building!

By Not Dan

I agree with Dan

By Dans Mate

The whole area should be designated for skyscrapers.

By Anonymous

Co-living seems like a horrible experience. Basically, make a person’s living space so small, they have to share basic facilities with thousands of others. I sort of can understand this in the densest part of the most expensive cities in the world, but Manchester is hardly expensive – certainly not from a global scale. I can sort of understand this as a novel new concept that may work initially, but I think after a few years of living in it, people will revolt against these. I don’t know how big these co-living spaces will be, but an average seems to be 16m2 which is like a small hotel room. Basically, I can get an 85m2 apartment on a 40 floor in Deansgate for £1600 per month, so at the very least, someone shouldn’t pay more than £300 per month for the 16m2 co-living… but in fact, considering that they don’t have the convienience of everything in their own flat and the lack of space that will cut down their quality of life, it’s probably only worth £150 per month at most… How much do you want to bet the cost would be considerbly more…


What a surprise SH again! SH are embarrassing themselves again with their typical bland design. The whole area will become dated and be a blight on mcr city centre.

By ?

Overabundance of trees is no substitute for a decent public realm… that podium seems to have a lot of blank frontages onto the surrounding streets. Beyond the ethical concerns re. co-living, this is also a pretty foul scheme architecturally, we’ve really hit rock bottom.

By Greenwashing

I’m all for developments and big buildings. but for the love of god, why can’t they build something with a bit of class or at least some originality?

These identical looking towers look cheap and soulless

By Hmm

Looks great

By Lenny1968

What’s the cladding?!

By SSC cladding enthusiast

If they use quality materials this could really make a welcomed addition to what is already a handsome bunch of skrapers.
Manchester is well and truly leading the way and the city should be proud of its success. Every time I visit there’s something different to look at and I love it.

By Kel

Steady on Steve, my nephew is in the 6th form and is going on the study computer graphics – and he can do better than this. Seen some of his renders, they’re pretty good.

By Manc Man

Let’s face it…it’s basically going to be a student tower.

By Anon

I like the massing, I don’t like the tiny flats and lack of retail

By Dan

Grim design. Looks way overdeveloped. My biggest issue is the fact that MCC has been trying to get rid of student houses with Co Living all over the city and now they are allowing thousands in one stroke of a pen. All without any real assessment of how this will affect the market. Nonsense.


Manchester is a BEAST!

I assume the real thing will look spectacular in real life like the other towers and not like the images.

By Ooooshh

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