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Boutique hotel operator Nadler was to operate a hotel on the lower floors of St John’s Place, but has now withdrawn from the project.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.
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.