Manchester City Council is set to endorse plans to create a “world-leading” cancer research centre at The Christie’s Withington campus today, despite campaigners accusing the council of “cutting the local community adrift”.
The council’s executive will meet today and is expected to show its support for The Christie’s plans, which will see a 10-storey development replacing the former Paterson Building, which was ravaged by a fire in 2017.
The mixed 10 and seven-storey building, designed by BDP, is set to include more than 113,300 sq ft of laboratory and research space over four floors, along with 92,000 sq ft of consultant workspace. There will be a 28,000 sq ft reception, café, facilities management, and research space on the ground floor, along with public realm fronting the building.
While a planning application has been submitted, a local campaign group remains vehemently opposed to the proposal, and issued a statement earlier this week arguing the executive would “legitimise” The Christie’s planning application which the group argued “completely ignored” consultation.
The group also pointed the finger at the council for a perceived lack of consultation, citing differences between a recent consultation over the Eastlands strategic regeneration framework.
“The contrast with the Eastlands consultation says a lot about the way this community is treated, as does The Christie’s pursuit of a marketing campaign designed to drown out the voices of local residents. 500 objections, critical issues raised, but no changes: what does this say about how local democracy works in this city, particularly where The Christie is concerned? It will look very like a box-ticking exercise with a pre-determined outcome,” said the group.
However the council reiterated the executive is separate from the statutory planning process, with the planning application to be subject to further scrutiny and consultation. Council representatives also highlighted that the Eastlands framework is high-level and driven by the council, unlike The Christie’s addendum to its existing framework, which is being brought forward by The Christie itself, not the council.
A Manchester City Council spokesperson said: “The Paterson development is an addendum to the existing Christie framework. It was produced by The Christie’s Hospital, and the council was requested to endorse it in principle at a strategic level – to create a cancer research facility to a world-leading specification.
“This is not a Council-led framework, but is similar to other frameworks the Council has supported at a strategic level. Letters were sent out to around 4,000 local residents, landowners and other stakeholders informing them how to engage with the process. The consultation was also made available on the Council’s website, where the public could also comment. This follows a consultation led by The Christie’s earlier this year.”
In a statement earlier this week to Place North West, a spokesperson for The Christie added: “We have carried out consultations in which local residents have been able to share their views on the redevelopment project and have also sought the views of the wider community across Greater Manchester.
“The Christie serves the whole region and therefore it is vital that we seek the views of the wider community on this project as it has a direct impact on patient care and the future delivery of services.
“The detailed planning application is currently under consideration by Manchester City Council and will be judged on its own merit. The Christie’s Strategic Planning Framework adopted in 2014 also remains in place.”