39 Deansgate
Sheppard Robson designed the scheme. Credit: via planning documents

Aegon’s £90m Speakers House returns to face refusers  

Dan Whelan

Manchester City Council’s decision to reject plans for a 135,000 sq ft office development on Deansgate was made against the advice of city planners and sparked anger 12 months ago. Next week, the 17-storey scheme will be considered again.

Aegon decided not to appeal the city council’s controversial decision to block plans for the £90m Speakers House, instead opting to work with the authority to lodge a fresh planning application.

“As a result of the comprehensive and rigorous design process undertaken and the provision of additional justification for this scheme we continue to fully support our clients proposals,” said Harry Bolton, planning consultant at CBRE.

“We have worked collaboratively with Manchester City Council officers and objectors over recent months in order to seek a mutually agreeable way forward for this important regeneration site. Overall, we consider that these proposals will have a transformative regeneration effect and we are delighted with the support that has been received for our proposals from various quarters.”

Architect Sheppard Robson designed the project, aimed at replacing the existing 40,000 sq ft block on the corner of Deansgate, which would be demolished.

In a pre-emptive move, Greggs, which occupies a ground floor unit within the existing building, looks set to relocate across the road into a unit beneath No1 Deansgate. The unit was most recently occupied by electronics retailer Baseo.

The original application for Speakers House was recommended for approval by planning officers despite objections from residents of No1 Deansgate.

Manchester City Council planning officers pointed out that the issues facing No1 Deansgate residents were not uncommon and said the scheme was supported by approved planning policies.

The proposals have also secured support from the surrounding business community as well as adjacent landowners, according to CBRE.

The project’s subsequent refusal sparked disappointment among commentators who called the decision “strange” and “short-sighted”.

Aegon bought the existing nine-storey 39 Deansgate for £11m from Target Real Estate in March 2018.

Your Comments

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Reject, Manchester is overdeveloped, mancunians do not want more offices to be built

By Dan

This is an improvement to what is already there, cant see why it should be rejected apart from the objections of the residents across the road who will have their views blocked.

By Meeseeks

It’s an absolutely fantastic design and is rather farcical on which the grounds for rejection were put forward. Hopefully it will pass this time and we can all look forward to a fantastic development.

By The Squirrel's Nuts

I absolutely love this design. It will be a great addition to the city.

By Anonymous

A travesty that this was refused in the first place. The developments benefit to Manchester far outweighs the loss of a view for a few well connected people in No1 Deansgate.

By Bob

If this doesn’t get through then I will lose the very little faith I have left in MCC’s planning committee! Fantastic design

By Steve

Approve – we need to sustain the growth of our economy.

By Anonymous

Dan, why don’t Mancunians want more office’s, please explain. Weren’t you the one that said there was no demand for offices just before that report came out that said that office take up had increased in Manchester despite Covid?

By Calgon

Fingers crossed this fantastic office proposal is approved this time.

By jrb

Great location for such an attractive design. Massive improvement on what’s already there and let’s face it ,offices bring jobs , get it built !

By Anonymous

Great scheme and people are constantly relocating to Manchester City centre from other parts of the U.K. and Manchester’s suburbs. The momentum for Manchester is now unstoppable.

By Elephant

Dan, really? I’d look up some of the articles referring to reports on PNW this year. They are very illuminating. I’d always recommend the maxim ‘read more type less.’

By Anonymous

There’s no good reason for refusal. It also looks a cut above most of what the MCC planning committee are passing recently.

By Gene Walker

Great, this project should never have been refused, and to Dan who are these “Mancunians” that do not want more offices? Would you rather Manchester be like it was 20+ years ago?

By Anonymous

@Dan thanks for speaking for ALL the Mancunians… Manchester’s growth is unstoppable, stop winging about it. At least this is a quality scheme that will really transform this corner of deansgate

By Michael

A fabulous design and would be an amazing asset to Manchester. I’d echo all the above comments, there is no good reason to refuse this .

By Dandeman

Superb design and great addition to the city – there is no doubt that this should be supported and built

By George

Irrespective of its purpose this is a great looking building and by Manchester standards it doesn’t qualify as a skyscraper. The only logical answer I could think of why this got refused is the background heckling of a few well placed people ,some of whom appear to have a lot of influence regarding their ‘heritage status’ of their balconies and views from windows!.I thought this city was for the many,not the few!

By Robert Fuller

Given the absolute dross being constructed across the road this looks like a high quality development and much much better than the current building.

By Jon P

Excellent design, let’s get it built.

By Monty

Manchester needs to start setting this standard as a minimum now.

As Elephant pointed out, Manchester has reached a momentum and it needs to start pushing boundaries while it still can. Designers and architects take note!

By Anonymous

Great design which shouldn’t have been refused in the first place, especially when One City Road was approved on the very same day…opposite an apartment block.

By Andrew

This is one of the best proposals in for our city currently. It is absolutely gorgeous!
Furthermore, there is no valid reason for rejection of the original proposal. Any rejection now will stink of corruption.


If you are really so supportive of this you should write to the council and let the planning committee know!! The trouble is only those who object make the effort and the silent majority go unheard!!

By Believer