Castlefield Estates has called for Manchester City Council to delay its decision on a controversial Renaker development of 188 apartments proposed for Chester Road.
A planning application was submitted last year by Renaker Build, for two blocks at 2-4 Chester Road, a 40,000 sq ft scrubland plot on the edge of the historic Castlefield Basin in Manchester. The scheme is due to be considered by the council’s planning committee on Thursday 12 January, with a recommendation to approve.
The designs by OMI Architects show a 21-storey tower alongside a block of up to 12-storeys, which would sit next to the grade two-listed Congregation Chapel and viaduct.
Property company Castlefield Estates was prominent in the regeneration of Castlefield in the 1990s under the directorship of Jim Ramsbottom, and is now run by daughter-in-law Sarah Ramsbottom.
Ramsbottom, alongside residents’ group Castlefield Forum, has requested the council planning committee adjourn its decision later this week, in order to visit the historic conservation area to properly assess whether the development should get the go-ahead.
Castlefield Estates has commissioned heritage specialist, The Architectural History Practice, to prepare a heritage impact assessment of the scheme, which it said “roundly condemns” the proposed development. The report said that the impact of the development will be “substantial and damaging” and it will “neither preserve or enhance the character of one of Manchester’s most important and significant conservation areas”. It goes on to say that the towers would “dominate the enclosure of the Castlefield Basin, to its considerable detriment”.
Sarah Ramsbottom, managing director of Castlefield Estates, said: “This is a decision of historic significance that will change the character of Castlefield forever and for what? To provide the city with a handful of luxury apartments? We are not opposed to development on this site but it is nothing short of cultural vandalism to allow this scheme to proceed.
“In light of an independent heritage report, which completely condemns the scheme in clear planning terms, we believe that the planning committee can only decide this if they have seen with their own eyes its potential impact from both inside and outside the Basin. Any development here has to protect and enhance the conservation area, which this clearly does not.”
Castlefield Forum chairman, Carol Middleton, said: “The Castlefield Forum has also requested adjournment of the planning decision to enable a site visit to take place. No one in Castlefield objects to development of this site, but we do object to a five-metre high wall dwarfing the tow path and a 21-storey grey tower obscuring views of the beautiful grade two-listed former Congregation Chapel and casting the basin into shade. We sincerely hope sense prevails and the current plans are thrown out and replaced with something more sensitive and appropriate.”