Great Jackson Street with Plot D, Renaker, p planning

Daren Whitaker accepts not everyone is a fan of his work. Credit: via planning documents

MIPIM | Renaker’s Whitaker reflects on transformation of Manchester’s skyline

MIPIM coverage sponsored by TogetherIn a rare public appearance, the chairman and founder of Manchester’s most prolific developer spoke about what has enabled his company’s recent success.

You got the impression that most people on the Manchester stand on Wednesday morning at MIPIM were there to hear from Daren Whitaker.

He seldom speaks in public and prefers to let Renaker’s track record for delivery do the talking. The packed event provided a rare insight into how the developer thinks.

Without Renaker, Manchester would be 8,000 homes lighter and the skyline would look very different.

The man who leads the team responsible for that seismic change was full of praise for the city council. The authority has paved the way for Renaker’s cluster of towers at Great Jackson Street, including the tallest building in the UK outside of London, South Tower at Deansgate Square.

Darren Whitaker MIPIM

Darren Whitaker, second from right, appeared on the Manchester stand. Credit: Manchester Invest Partnership

While the soaring skyline is seen by many as a symbol of Manchester’s prosperity and ambition, not everyone is a fan of Renaker’s work, something Whitaker acknowledged.

“In terms of criticisms, [there are some] about the landscape and the skyscrapers and whether that is the right architecture and urban of planning solution,” he said.

“I think that’s always going get conflicting opinions.”

While not everyone likes tall glass towers, Whitaker said that the sites the company chooses are ideal for high density.

“We work in the city core…we work hard with the city council on public realm and the connectivity between our buildings and the connectivity between our buildings and the creation of new districts.

“On brownfield difficult regeneration sites that is costly.”

Deansgate Square changed Manchester’s skyline. Credit: Place North West

Whitaker also acknowledged that Renaker would not have been able to do what it has done as fast without support from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, which has provided the developer with tens of millions in loans from its devolved housing fund.

He neatly sidestepped a question on the company’s record on delivering affordable homes – another source of criticism – citing the viability constraints attached to delivering skyscrapers on brownfield sites.

He chose instead to focus on what Renaker has provided for Manchester; a GP surgery and Manchester’s first city centre primary school in 20 years, not to mention thousands of badly needed homes.

“That’s not done easily, it is done at a really huge cost,” Whitaker said. “But that creates a placemaking arena that hopefully holds good for the city for years to come.”

Whitaker might not be the most comfortable in the limelight but he is confident in his product and in Manchester. He described the city’s population growth as an “unprecedented opportunity for regeneration”.

“We shouldn’t underestimate the strength of Manchester and how unique an environment we have,” he said.

“It is absolutely special and a shining light in the UK in terms of that stability, delivery, and that fundamental demand.”

Manchester’s ability to retain students and create jobs is a potent combination for Whitaker, whose work in the city is far from done.

While the Renaker has delivered 8,000 homes so far, it has another 8,000 or so in its 10-year pipeline, including another 70-storey tower in New Jackson, that is currently in for planning.

If Manchester continues to attract people, Whitaker will continue to build.

In the years ahead, he is naturally keen to see the city double down on its pro-development agenda and implored the city council to maintain its role as facilitator.

“All these regeneration opportunities are tough, in a certain economic climate, a different point in time,” he said.

“We need to not be overly prescriptive so that that investment opportunity does not fall short.”

Place North West MIPIM 2024 coverage is sponsored by Together. Visit Place North’s MIPIM hub to find the latest news from Cannes.

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Can he come to Liverpool please 😊

By Anonymous

Send him to Liverpool!

By Anonymous

Will they ever sort out the lifts in Deansgate Square?

By DS Resident

Its been a great example of how a city always needs to work with developers and provide the right environment for them, Manchester has done that. Many local authorities put up barriers. The availability of loans for example has been crucial for this developer particularly.

By Cristoforo

Where are your architect skills, when only building rectangular and square towers. Please at least some designs, as seen in Dubai, Qatar and Hong Kong. Do we have any design skills or from one design course?

By John Peoples

Wonderful for the city of Manchester and its environs.
Long May it continue.

By Peter Chapman

Well, he’s built some round ones , and some with a setback, can you ask him can we have one with a pointy top now. 250m plus would be nice and ideally art deco like the Chrysler building…ok I’m stretching it now . Don’t forget to thank him.

By Anonymous

Manchester City centre needs to keep on expanding along its arterial roads and hopefully companies like Renaker working with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority can achieve it.

By Peter Chapman

It’s almost perfect! There just needs to be some variation in height of the proposed buildings. The ones on the middle should be increased significantly to form a sort of pyramid when viewed from the angle shown in the picture. Put the lighthouse to 300m, the rest between 200m and 270m ish and you’ve got an amazing looking skyline!


Great to see another school being developed although I’d say the one at New Islington could be classed city centre and so I don’t think Renaker’s is the first in 20 years.

By Anonymous

‘Without Renaker, Manchester would be 8000 homes light’ or to juxtopose this, without them we could’ve had 8000 more affordable homes…

By Liam

There’s no denying the unparalleled ambition of Renaker in the city centre, but as others have mentioned I would hope that now is the time when they perhaps put their ear to the ground and pay attention to what people are saying (in terms of how the city is shaping up). The quality of each project in isolation is top tier, yet for any skyline to look the part requires variety in heights and a mix of materials. Unfortunately schemes such as The Transition blocks (varied heights and brick slip facades) was redesigned to four identical glazed monoliths which add nothing but noise to the skyline. We want more tiered and stepped buildings, we need some setbacks and we wish for them to stop adding to this newly glazed plateau affect that has inevitably formed to the edge of town. Other than that, keep on building! 😀

By Anonymous

Sure Liam, who do you suppose would pay for those 8000 affordable homes in the city centre of Manchester on prime development land? Cuckoo land.

By Big Dub

Perhaps our inept London government, should ask Daren Whitaker, how he sets out a plan, puts it into action, and then completes it in breakneck speed. He might be able to give them some pointers, on how you stick to your word.

By Elephant

I hope Renaker and other high rise developers are fully aware of the gateway requirements of the Building Safety Act and the lack of building control expertise at the Building Safety Regulator. The gateway process and the need for suitably qualified building control officers could delay new high rise construction projects by years.

By Anonymous

No Liam, no on every level. How on earth would you fit 8000 homes on this plot without them being flats in large buildings? The price related to these is directly linked to the cost of building this high, so the homes would not be affordable. You may been able to fit around 400 affordable homes but no where near 8000

By Anonymous

The worst cut and paste exercise ever! The City will regret this monopoly in future years.

By Architect

It shouldn’t be for private sector developers to deliver social housing. Central Government should be funding the hell out of RPs and LAs incentivising them to deliver the right product in the right locations. Super prime central city centre high rise buildings are not suitable for social or even intermediate affordable. Well done to Renaker for what they have achieved and good luck to them for the next 8,000.

By John W

I just love Manchesters new & up & coming skyline.
It’s a city on the move.

By Mr Simpson.

Wouldn’t mind seeing Renaker go tall around the Strangeways area if possible.

Some nice NY style setbacks with brick would be my preference.

By MrP

Liverpool council should be ashamed of themselves, hats off to Manchester what a terrific job you have done!

By Anonymous

As Manhattan East continues to expand, I’m delighted to be living in a good home close to the ground rather than 50 storeys in the air. Who actually lives in these mega-boxes? I suspect it’s the mega-rich. The city centre reeks of money while plenty of nearby districts are struggling.

By Francis

Modern architecture accommodating people can only be in everyone’s favour . Skyscaping is far better than moeing green lush green pastures…….

By Shaun Mackin

In complete agreement with @MC, varying the height to achieve a pyramid silhouette would make this fantastic.

By Tom

There is a vernacular that is Manchester and I don’t think Mancs care what outsiders think. Keep building high, keep creating jobs, keep rivalling London.

By Anarchic Planner

Totally agree about the variances in height and material but this is just half of what’s proposed in that area. I imagine the more interesting design will be fed into this lot, which may end up looking great, maybe not.
They do need to start doing more interesting designs sooner than later though. Even some of the skyscraper geeks have lost interest.

By Anonymous

It’s excellent what’s happening 2 Manchester keep it going it’s a city 2 say your proud of. And is becoming known all over the word. I can’t wait 2 see more beautiful skyscrapers going up.

By Anonymous

There isn’t really an excuse for not delivering affordable housing. If it’s unviable then it shouldn’t be built. The fact the Manchester City Council are supporting this is a scandal

By Anonymous

Building the slums of the future will not help Manchester in the long term. Do these people not learn from the mistakes in the past such as fort Ardwick and Hulme. All they care about is money.

By Anonymous

The bigger question is are these developments helping Manchester or its citizens? The % of these apartments owned by foreign investors or foreign students is getting more and more each year. Meanwhile that just drives up the average rent.

By Anonymous

I’m a massive fan of Manchester ever expanding skyline, but it is very boring. They say every major city’s skyline should be recognisable via a silhouette image. The only building that applies to is the Beetham and that was built years ago. Nothing new and inspiring has been constructed since. I hope a developer makes me eat my words very soon

By Anonymous

Renaker has been one of the contributing factors in Manchester’s growth and its vibrant city centre. Cities like Birmingham have seen the benefits of building upwards and have started to follow. Even though United can’t outdo city, Renaker towers remain on top of Manchester City centre.

By Adrian Benosiglio

Don’t think many would argue against density and ambition for housing….it’s just that the architecture provides no distinction. It could be anywhere.

By Sceptic

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