DeTrafford Gallery Gardens Planning
DeTrafford is to pay an initial £250,000 towards offsite affordable housing. Credit: via planning documents

DeTrafford’s £94m Gallery Gardens clears final hurdle 

Dan Whelan

The developer and Manchester City Council have reached a legal agreement that will allow the 366-apartment project to progress more than a year after it was controversially approved under delegated powers. 

DeTrafford is to pay an initial £330,000 towards off-site affordable housing and upgrades to three parks in Hulme, under the terms of a Section 106 agreement with the city council.

The Section 106 agreement was required as the developer failed to meet planning policy requirements in relation to affordable housing.

Under the terms of Manchester’s local plan, developers are obliged to provide 20% affordable housing provision on site. If this cannot be achieved, council’s and developers will enter into a Section 106 agreement that will provide funds towards off-site affordable housing. 

Manchester City Council determined that in order for Gallery Gardens to comply with policy, DeTrafford “should provide a payment of the maximum contribution”, calculated at £8.6m. 

Gallery Gardens

The project is part of the Manchester Gardens masterplan. Credit: via planning documents

However, DeTrafford claims that there are “viability issues” relating to the development and that as a result, it was unable to deliver the 20% affordable housing provision or the maximum contribution. 

“Without a reduction in the maximum contribution, the implementation of the development is not viable,” the Section 106 agreement states. 

Manchester will review the arrangement at a later date to see if there is scope for DeTrafford to pay additional contributions. 

The £94m Gallery Gardens was designed by JM Architects and DEP. It is made up of two buildings ranging in height from eight to 12 storeys and 14 to 18 storeys, respectively, on a 41,000 sq ft site on the corner of Hulme Hall Road, Chester Road and Ellesmere Street.  

The two buildings will be separated by a new road called Spinner’s Way. Paul Butler Associates is advising on planning. 

Prior to being approved, the plans for the project were unsuccessful at two planning committee meetings, drawing criticism from local residents and councillors. 

However, in April 2020 a three-person delegated planning panel approved the project. 

The panel was set up so that Manchester City Council could continue to determine planning applications despite national restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Some commentators criticised the panel for a lack of scrutiny, but council chief executive Joanne Roney defended the authority’s decisions in an interview with Place North West.

Gallery Gardens is part of DeTrafford’s Manchester Gardens masterplan, a series of residential blocks between Chester Road and Ellesmere Street. 

Construction of other phases of Manchester Gardens, including City & Sky Gardens is ongoing. 

Roof Gardens, built by the now-defunct contractor Pochins, completed in 2018 and St George’s Gardens completed last year. 

In July, the city council approved the next stage Manchester Gardens, the 237-apartment Phoenix Works. 

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Sorry to have to point this out yet again, but ANOTHER apartment building being approved without a single balcony. Why do we allow developers to scrimp on this basic and most important amenity? I thought urban housing had to be sustainable? Few people are going to want live long term in a flat without its own private outdoor space, especially with the rise of home working. I know I wouldn’t.

Other cities are far more enlightened than Manchester in this respect, notably London whose residential design standards Manchester used as a template for its own but typically, they’ve clearly been watered them down.

By Balcony watch

@Balcony watch, seriously what are you talking about? There are plenty of apartment blocks within the City Centre with balconies – One Regent, Islington Wharf, Bridgewater Point to name a few, plus many in and around Salford Quays.

Have you ever actually been to Manchester? How often would these balconies actually get utilised? Do you often sit outside in your garden when it is not sunny?

Had the City be flooded with balconies, I suspect you’re the same type of individual that would moan at people hanging their laundry out to dry for the whole world to see.

Your comment suggests that you’re not even someone in the market to live in an apartment but just in case you are – if you don’t want to live in a flat without a balcony – don’t buy/rent one. Simple.

By Manctopia

File this under never going to happen.

DeTrafford are all glossy images with very little actual building. What happened to Transition and No 1 Castlefield?

How many TOWERS have other developers managed to build in the time it has taken DeTrafford to not finish City or Sky Gardens?

By G Jackson

Shouldn’t they finish their delayed current developments in the area before starting on more new buildings.

By Meeseeks

@Balcony Watch – give it a rest pal. Not all tall residential buildings need balconies, have you been to or laid eyes on New York? Balconies can often be an eyesore if not kept in check and can also hinder the aesthetic appeal and slenderness of the buildings. This looks great and should be fantastic to live in. Just a shame it’s DeTrafford.

By The Squirrel's Nuts

Another hideous carbuncle that is several decades out of date and offers nothing to the cityscape.

By Observer

So MCCs own requirements for 20% affordable housing would have meant DeTrafford allocating 72 apartments. How many affordable homes will be built from the balance of £330,000 after the parks have been upgraded?
Shocking negotiations by MCC – £8,600,000 down to £330,000.
DeTrafford must be laughing all the way to the Bank.

By Sell Out

Some strange responses to my comment.

First of all, most new build apartment blocks still do not feature balconies. Of those that do, they often tend to be token in size and too exposed. So to suggest that people have a choice whether to rent a flat with a balcony or not is a bit disingenuous since most places still do not include this basic feature.

The point about balconies running the aesthetic appeal is just wrong on so many levels and probably comes from someone who spends their time looking at buildings on a computer screen rather than wanting to make sure all these new flats work for their occupants. Most new blocks in London feature large balconies (even tall blocks) and still look great. It’s not beyond the capabilities of a decent architect to incorporate them in an aesthetically pleasing way.

The point about New York is similarly ill conceived. The sheer concentration of economic activity in that city together with the attendant opportunities means that people will happily live in a shoe box, never mind live without a balcony. Manchester is still recovering from post-industrial decline. Inner city regeneration is finally addressing the wholesale collapse of the housing market in the 90s. People can live miles away or even in another city and still access Manchester’s opportunities. We need to be careful we’re not creating low quality housing for transient communities. People want to live in the city but they won’t stay long if they can’t step outside for some fresh air – I repeat – this is a basic feature not a luxury.

So to sum, balconies are a basic and really important amenity that most continental cities where urban living is well established; and even some
British cities where planning policies are well drafted and enforced; include as standard. Yet in Manchester thousands upon thousands of new flats still do not feature this basic amenity. This is rank bad planning by the council and cynical penny pinching by developers and absolutely has to change.

By Balcony watch

So they should have paid £8.6m but are actually paying £330k. Sound like De Trafford have got a nice deal.

By Anonymous

@Balcony watch – can’t take you seriously if you think that balconies are a ‘basic feature’ and don’t come at a premium – I suggest you do some research into the cost of rent.

Manchester isn’t London (not sure if you are aware), nor do Mancunians want it to be London. If we are comparing cities I personally would like it to be like a post-Soviet Donetsk, but that’s just my personal opinion…

Finally, you say that there are many flats in the City without balconies, yet the demand for flats in the City Centre is at an all time high and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down any time soon. So I ask, has it ever occurred to you that maybe not everyone cares about balconies like you are trying so desperately to get across? I’d suggest that for every 1 person who is bothered there are 10 who simply aren’t.

By Manctopia

@balcony watch. Not sure I’d want a balcony facing Chester Road lol. Facing in, yes don’t understand why they aren’t provided

By Disgruntled Goat

@Manctopia you rather prove my point there! If a flat with a balcony comes at a premium it rather confirms the argument that they are (a) scarce and (b) valued by would-be tenants.

And I’d suggest that if you asked 10 people whether they’d prefer a flat with a balcony over one without, 10 out of 10 would opt for one with a balcony. Why wouldn’t you? They’re a basic amenity which continues to be neglected by MCC and developers alike.

By Balcony watch

Who will live in them?

By Liverpool Romance