Campaigners backed by city centre ward councillors have called on Manchester City Council to delay its decision on a planning application for Allied London’s St John’s, which includes demolishing the former Coronation Street set.
The council’s planning committee is due to meet tomorrow to consider proposals from Manchester Quays, the joint venture between Allied London and the council, for the first phase of residential development at the former ITV Granada site. Designed by SimpsonHaugh & Partners, the project will see 66,700 sq ft of apartments, alongside 80,000 sq ft of workspace, and 36,500 sq ft of retail units across nine buildings.
The scheme is earmarked for a plot next to Grape Street, which includes the former Coronation Street set.
Manchester Quays purchased the 13-acre site in 2013 and have since brought forward plans for a £1.3bn neighbourhood known as St John’s. However, the Coronation Street set is still owned by ITV, which is responsible for any decision as to the future of the set. The set is currently open for tours which are due to run until the end of December.
Previous attempts to list the set in 2012 and 2014 were rejected by English Heritage.
The campaign group proposes that a few key elements of the set should be preserved and incorporated into the proposed new development:
- the original ‘Victorian’ terrace including the Rovers Return pub, or just its façade
- the interior of the Rovers Return, to be installed behind the pub’s façade
- the street cobbles in front of the terrace
More than 2,000 people have signed a petition to save the set since it was launched in January.
A statement from the campaign group said that they are “not seeking to retain the whole set. They think this would be unwelcome to ITV, commercially unsound, unfair to the developers and environmentally undesirable,” however “Coronation Street is indisputably important in television, UK and Manchester history and significant for millions of people worldwide”.
“But despite this, the proposal is to demolish it in its entirety and to remember it by marking its footprint in some way on the site where it once stood. This proposal would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. We cannot believe that either the council or Allied London can really be happy with it.”
Mike Wolfe, a member of the campaign group, said: “Obviously we aren’t privy to the terms of sale of the Granada site from ITV to Manchester Quays Ltd, but we believe it contains some sort of covenant to prevent the set from being retained. While we understand ITV’s reasons for not wishing the complete set to be kept as a fee-charging tourist attraction, we consider they’re being unreasonable and short-sighted in not accepting that it would be an entirely different matter to integrate a few much-loved elements of the set into the fabric of the new St John’s neighbourhood.”
Cllr Kevin Peel, ward councillor for Manchester city centre, responded to the statement from the campaign group to the press and said that “ward councillors fully support this campaign and have done so from the outset. We hope our colleagues on the planning committee will pay heed to the very sensible and modest requests of campaigners in their deliberations and do all they can to protect this historic asset in the heart of our city.”