The Irish developer has agreed to sell the Store Street plot earmarked for a 60-storey residential tower for more than a decade, in a £25m deal to facilitate construction of Manchester Piccadilly’s high-speed rail hub.
A spokesperson for Ballymore said: “We confirm that an agreement has been reached between Ballymore and HS2, acting on behalf of the Department for Transport, for a site on Store Street in Manchester.”
Ballymore has consent from the city council for a 650-apartment scheme designed by architects Calderpeel and Woods Bagott, which also included a 220-bed hotel, multistorey car park and 40,000 sq ft of retail and leisure uses.
Permission for the scheme, known as Piccadilly Tower, was secured in 2005 and Ballymore bought a 95% stake in the site from developer Inacity two years later.
It is understood Ballymore spent around £40m progressing its plans, including £8m on site remediation, before the project stalled in 2008.
Eight years later, Ballymore put the site up for sale with a £25m price tag, but hope that the scheme could progress was reignited in 2018 when the developer began exploring options to resurrect the project.
However, last year, HS2 – the Government-owned company set up to deliver the national high-speed rail scheme – moved to protect its interest in the site by including it in a safeguarding order, designed to protect major infrastructure projects from conflicting developments, stymieing Ballymore’s plans once more.
HS2 has until less than a year – until February 2022 – to complete land acquisitions needed for the part of the rail link from Euston to the north of Birmingham and is under further pressure to commence deals to snap up sites for the northern segments of the route.
The company’s acquisition of the Store Street site will enable plans for a high-speed hub at Manchester Piccadilly to progress, once the deal completes. The HS2 station itself is scheduled to complete in 2033 and the wider redevelopment of land around the station could feature up to 13,000 homes, according to HS2.
Current plans for Piccadilly’s high-speed hub propose an above-ground station but the city council is pushing for an underground option integrated with the proposed Northern Powerhouse Rail network.