Beetham Now
The tower's repair work was the subject of a High Court legal battle between 2014 and 2019

Beetham Tower applies for cladding fix to window woes

Dan Whelan

The 47-storey tower, which was the tallest building in Manchester until 2018, is to undergo work to secure 1,440 windows that were found to be loose when it was inspected in 2014. 

A planning application has been submitted by London-based building consultant MBHC Cumming on behalf of landlord North West Ground Rents, a subsidiary of the tower’s owner, Ground Rents Income Fund, for the crucial repairs. 

The application follows a High Court ruling last February after the leaseholder Blue Manchester, which owns the Manchester Hilton Hotel which occupies 22 floors of the tower, took legal action against the landlord over safety concerns in 2014. It was estimated at the time that the reparation work would cost around £4m.

That 2014 building inspection found that the structural sealant securing the shadow box units – one of two types of window used on the tower – to its structural aluminium framework, was failing. 

After that inspection, Carillion, which built the SimpsonHaugh-designed tower, provided a temporary solution to secure the windows by applying stitch plates to hold them in place. 

Carillion Temporary Fix

Carillion’s temporary fix involved stitch plates

However, Carillion fell into administration in 2018, before a permanent solution for the problem was found. 

Now, planning permission is being sought from Manchester City Council to fix surface-mounted pressure plates to all vertical joints between the two different types of windows. All windows affected are on the lower 22-storeys occupied by the Hilton. 

This option is one of two that were presented to the landlord, which was required to pay for the necessary repairs under the 2019 High Court ruling. The other option required the removal of all shadow box units and subsequent replacement of the bond material and carrier frames. 

However, the landlord would have been “unable to fund the cost” of this work, according to a design and access statement from consultant MHBC Cumming.  

The chosen method of work requires planning consent as it alters the building’s appearance, whereas planning permission would not have been required for the more expensive method. 

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Amazing skyline- Not

By Anonymous

It is evident that a lot of these tall buildings are not constructed properly. Angel Gardens and this should be a major wake up call but it won’t be.

By Acelius

The building in an odious lump like a fair few of the newer ones. We have the massing and scale being built but nothing redeeming, with feature or with any grace. At a time when we are getting great levels of investment, (who knows if that will continue, here or anywhere after the impending downturn due to corona), more could have been done from the planning committee to push for some real quality design, not just quantity.

By EggManc

I think the recent development boom is going to leave a lot of cases like this behind as well, sadly.

By Thumbs down.

“a lot”? Which others are not constructed properly?

By Mrqs

This was the worst skyscraper in Europe when built, now that honour has been passed onto Deansgate Square.

By Dan

A very interesting case touching on many facets of the industry: technical, engineering, contractual, commercial, operational.

The significance of major remedials to a mid-2000s unitised facade should not be underestimated by clients, contractors, funders, insurers and so on…

I wonder if axial shortening of the concrete superstructure was properly understood by all parties: main contractor, structural engineer, frame contractor, and facade contractor.

By North by North-West

This is what happens when wanting to be the top city takes precedence. Minor details what were overlooked rear their heads years later.

By Liverpool realist

We definitely need to push for more quality design in both Manchester and Liverpool. We have our fair share!

But Deansgate Square is the worst skyscraper in Europe? They look amazing – it’s actually a pleasure to drive past this section of Manchester now.

By Anonymous

Looking at the pictures in the planning application (place nw should really be providing them in the article) – there is a lot of ad-hoc stripes on the facade and stainless steel stripes all over the place. Some of them are attempting to integrate into the design, but some of them seem to not to be well considered. To me this permanent solution looks as bad as the temporary solution. Sad as this is truly an iconic building (whether you like it or not)…

By Stripey