Plot 11 First Street Aerial
Plot 11, top left, will see development next to Downing's previously developed Parkway Gate

Downing plans ‘bigger and greener’ First Street tower

Chloé Vaughan

While designs for the First Street gateway site are still “in the early stages”, the scheme is expected to be “significantly bigger” than what was previously planned, potentially reaching up to 40 storeys.

Downing held a public consultation yesterday on proposals for a co-living development on plot 11 at First Street. Representatives from the professional team showcased the developer’s top-level plans to grow the scheme from the previously-consented proposals for the site.

Plot 11 sits on the Medlock Street roundabout and Mancunian Way, next to a Downing scheme delivered prior to the last recession, the Parkway Gate student development. Slightly along the Mancunian Way, Downing is on site building another student accommodation made up of 800 rooms. All three schemes were designed by SimpsonHaugh.

The 130,000 sq ft site was purchased from Patrizia Immobilien earlier this year for around £18m.

Patrizia gained planning consent for 624 apartments in 2016, designed by CallisonRKTL. At its highest, the buildings would have totalled 24 and 26 storeys.

Previously approved 24-storey development on the First Street site

At the consultation, a representative of Downing and the architect said as well as making the scheme larger, they wanted to add green space and encourage a feeling of community.

“We’ve found that a lot of co-living spaces are insular, and only have offers such as a gym or green space for the tenants. Instead, we want to integrate the scheme into the community and make it more engaging.”

The original Patrizia scheme was set to offer 624 units, but the offer is set to “significantly expand… there is going to be a mix of units on offer, from the small single space up to five-bedroom apartments. We’re still in the early design stages, but at its maximum height it could top out at 40-storeys.

“We want this to be available to everybody, so will have a range of affordable housing and the more typical city centre rents on offer. To create more of a community, we’ll also be managing cooking classes and other communal activities to make it a true co-living space.”

These proposals are set to be submitted to Manchester City Council by the end of the year. If it gains planning permission, Downing’s in-house construction arm is set to start on site in summer 2020.

The Medlock Street roundabout is set to be one of the next major regeneration areas in Manchester, as on the opposite side to plot 11, Ask Real Estate and Whitbread have revealed details of plans for the next phase of First Street, a further 600,000 sq ft of offices, and two towers of apartment. The architect is Jon Matthews.

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“we want to integrate the scheme into the community and make it more engaging” – do that and they’ll have succeeded where many before them have failed. Good luck.

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Sounds great. Can’t wait to see the new design. The current one is dull as dish water!

By Steve