St John's At Night

Allied pulls 54-storey tower at St John’s

Neil Tague & Jessica Middleton-Pugh

St John’s Place Tower, intended as the 54-storey centrepiece to Allied London’s St John’s district in Manchester, will not be progressed after the developer confirmed it is revisiting its masterplan to scale down its residential ambitions.

In a statement to Place North West, Manchester Quays, the development vehicle set up between Allied and Manchester City Council to take forward St John’s, confirmed it is to reconsider some of the residential elements of the masterplan, prioritising commercial and leisure.

The developer said: “St. John’s Place Tower, a 54-storey tower, has unresolved development issues which have meant the legal conditions within apartment purchasers’ sale contracts have not been met. Manchester Quays has therefore decided to operate the termination clauses in these sale contracts and repay all deposits as it is entitled to do.”

Place understands that an overseas sales launch in 2018 met with some initial success, with up to half the nearly 400 apartments being reserved, but sales then stalled; JLL had been acting as residential sales agent. While Aviva agreed terms last year on a deal to support £300m of development at St John’s, a backer for the residential aspect has not been found. Parts of the project to be funded by Aviva include Manchester Goods Yard, Globe & Simpson and Old Granada Studios.

Boutique hotel operator Nadler was to operate a hotel on the lower floors of St John’s Place, but has now withdrawn from the project. Allied has yet to confirm what the altered plans for the tower site might include, although Place understands that a shorter tower, in the area of 35 storeys, might be put forward, potentially including a mix of hotel and commercial space.

The developer has also gone back to the drawing board on the South Village part of St John’s, an area that was intended to include 65 apartments, but has encountered similar problems to the tower. Manchester Quays said it has suspended the South Village development for “a number of reasons” and will focus instead on expanding its TV and film studio business into the existing complex.

Again, all purchasers who had bought apartments in the scheme, pictured below, have been contacted and have had their deposits fully refunded.

South Village St Johns

A spokesman for Manchester Quays said: “St. John’s is a complex development due to the interaction between sites and the mixed-use nature of the masterplan. There have been a number of development issues around the masterplan as a whole, but also interface issues between uses and sites that together have culminated in an uncertain programme for some of the residential elements. Our priority at this stage of the cycle is to create certainty around our work and build out our plans.

“We remain focused on the commercial and cultural elements of the plan and, whilst we believe a residential element is important to our plans, we have prioritised where we have certainty at Manchester Goods Yard, St. John’s Place, ABC, Bonded Warehouse, Old Granada Studios and the Factory. All these elements of the development are on site and progressing quickly.

“St. John’s is an exciting and important development and as we develop, we remain focused on creating certainty and take opportunities to improve the long-term sustainability of our plans.”

The commercial elements of the project have progressed well, with anchor tenant Booking.com signing last year for 220,000 sq ft at Manchester Goods Yard in what is billed as a £175m tech hub, with 900 jobs added to the Rentalcars business already employing 1,500 people in the city.

Globe & Simpson, a nine-storey 80,000 sq. ft commercial building, is recommended for approval at this week’s Manchester City Council planning committee, while ABC, the redevelopment of Astley & Byrom House, has secured several deals.

The St John’s tower was one of four plots at the Quay Street gateway awarded outline consent as a cluster in December 2016, also including a previous iteration of the Globe & Simpson proposal.

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Gutted

By Bob

Hopefully the start of the end for Manchester’s ridiculous residential tower phase. Lets have more community and human scale at a height that sustains an active ground floor use.

By zoro

If residential isn’t what they want to go then they should sell the st John tower site to somebody who does, this is the perfect spot for a building of height

By York Street

Allied is one of those companies that can never be taken on face value; you know that you’ll always get a massively watered down version of what was orgninally promised… delayed by a good 2-4 years

By Alex B.

An interesting move from some smart and capable people.

Are they calling the top of the resi market? Or has it, in fact, already begun to dip? There’s plenty of anecdotal chatter that rentals are softening due to supply increases in Manchester and perhaps they thought that they couldn’t meet the promises re: yield performance made in the sales material?

Either way, a pity as it’s a nice scheme – particularly South Village. More to come on this, I suspect.

By Sceptical

Probably because they were all stupendously overpriced.

Manchester reaching VIP apartment saturation maybe? It is a working class city after all.

Still, as a Manc resident, it is very disappointing to see these flop.

By Oh Dear

Disappointing about the tower, however, the commercial focus should have been the case from the start, especially with all the apartments being built elsewhere in the City, the lack of office space and the proximity to Spinningfileds. So it’s Spinningfields 2 after all, but for tech firms and hipsters, rather bankers and lawyers.

A fortune must have been wasted on planning applications and consultant fees to get to this stage. Now numerous new applications will be needed. Perhaps a masterplan in policy terms rather than planning applications would have been better. It’s not like Allied need the certainty of planning permission. I suspect anything they propose in this location (within reason) would get planning permission.

By ALL

A prudent and well thought out change,
Liverpool should follow suit and steer away from the high rise £300+ psf developments. Rental yields can’t be sustained at this level.
Manchester leads the way and with good reason, if the top hasn’t been called we can’t be far off now.

By Carl

Disappointing but they could make this into an urban village which was the original plan. I pray that we do not just finish up with another load of offices. This change to corporate rather than residential has happened at Great Northern too. Let us hope that this is not the start of a trend.

By Elephant

Disappointing. Was looking forward to this joining the city’s ever-growing skyline.

By Anonymous

A bad loss, but as pointed out they have previous with stuff like this. Just a shame the small art deco building on the plot had to be flattened, and will now just be an overgrown triangle of graffiti covered hoardings for the next 4-5 years….

By Loganberry

Agree with Loganberry. That little building that they have destroyed for nothing was a gem. Yes just another weed fest behind scruffy boards for the next 4 years and then probably a Drive – in Starbucks.

By Elephant

WE should forget about city city residential. The city should be office, retail and leisure. Build residential further out.

By Dan

Have elephant or logonberry ever visited spinning fields? Don’t see too many drive in Starbucks or overgrown sites there!

By Takecontrol

Well.

By MancLad

Takecontrol. I worked there when there was literally nothing but a Pret. Look at the original, and then the revised, plans for the building on Quay Street and look how long the 90% empty dilapidated 1970’s office block was there for. Then come back to me about how this site is likely to be for the next few years.

By Loganberry

Logenberry regeneration doesn’t happen overnight. Spinning fields started 24 years ago. So the fact that you get some downtime is inevitable. Manchester was grim even 30 years ago. The transformation has been remarkable. If it is so awful, why do so many people visit? Why do so many people want to live here. Why do so many people want to invest here? You may not like change but the vast majority of Mancunians do!

By Takecontrol

I feel the factory theatre has gotten in the way of progress. As Allied were waiting for this to come forward so they could build the whole scheme out in one continuous phase, Nadler and any potential apartment investors gave up.

By Alistair C

Can’t believe they had to flatten the nice building that was there…

By Somewhat informed person

Takecontrol, you seem to be way, way, off point. I am referring to the art deco building being unnecessarily demolished when it now looks like it will be years before something will be built in its place. Similarly with the Elizabeth Gaskell building. It’s nothing to do with being against progress, its questioning why 2 buildings of interest have been flattened shortly before the plan to build in their place gets pulled. How are overgrown patches of land there instead, for years, a sign of ‘progress’? And its Spinningfields by the way.

By Loganberry

Thanks for the spelling lesson. So pleased that you focus on the important issues. If you look carefully, I think you will see that development has started on the site of the building you are concerned about!

By Takecontrol

Takecontrol, let’s see then shall we. I’m happy to be wrong.

By Loganberry

As a parting shot, as I have been given a spelling lesson, I shall provide a history lesson. If you research old maps of the area you will see reference to spinning fields ie two words or spinningfield ie singular but never spinningfields. But an s at the beginning and the end looks better graphically no doubt. The name seems so much more relevant because of its historical connection as opposed to first st and Noma or circle sq which mean nothing. Thank you

By Takecontrol

I, for one, never thought that this site was an appropriate place for a 54 storeys tower block. So I’m glad to see it stall. The development should be at a height which is more compatible with its surroundings.

By Ian Jones

Globe & Simpson, a nine-storey 80,000 sq. ft commercial building, is recommended for approval at this week’s Manchester City Council planning committee…

The art deco building that was demolished was known as Globe & Simpson, so I assume that it will be being built on this patch of land after all… eventually.

By Anonymouse

Too tall, we should implement a height limit less than 100m maybe even less, fill out the skyline so there are no gaps, and build on the many empty plots surrounding the city centre and regenerate inner city areas.

By EL VY

Looks like we are getting close to the end of this madness.

By stevethemanc

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