Downing 5

Downing's scheme features 45-storey tower designed by SimpsonHaugh

Manchester rails against co-living schemes

The city council decided to refuse two city centre co-living schemes yesterday, Downing’s huge First Street cluster and the second of Vita’s Water Street towers, but the schemes are likely to return to committee next month. 

Downing’s project, designed by SimpsonHaugh architects, comprises a 45-storey tower and three smaller blocks and would deliver more than 2,000 bedspaces. Vita’s project, a 32-storey tower designed by Denton Corker Marshall and located within developer Allied London’s St John’s district, would deliver 1,600 bedspaces. 

Deloitte Real Estate is the planning consultant for both projects. 

Both schemes failed to win approval at last month’s committee – Downing’s was deferred pending a site visit while Vita’s was minded to refuse – and were once again unsuccessful when they returned this week, as councillors raised concerns about the concept of co-living and the height of the developments and said they were “minded to refuse” the schemes unless further tweaks were made.

The developers are likely to put the schemes forward for consideration at the next committee meeting. 

Manchester City Council’s head of planning Dave Roscoe attempted to outline the benefits of the projects, especially at the First Street site, which he said was key to unlocking future development in the area and an opportunity to redevelop a site that had lain empty for many years.

In July, Vita won consent for a 36-storey co-living block, the first development of its kind the in the city centre, but this second, smaller block was refused. 

In an internal report published in December, Manchester City Council raised concerns about co-living and stated that the development of such schemes should be “limited” until the concept is fully tested in the market.

“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,” the report by the council’s former strategic director of growth and development, Eddie Smith, said.

Union Living Towers

The two co-living towers occupy a site on Water Street Vita bought from Allied London 12 months ago

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