A development partner is being sought for a 35-storey tower on Whitworth Street, following failed attempts to secure a contractor, sell the site or find funding.
Planning permission was granted to Brigantes in 2015 for 330 private rented sector apartments on a plot next to the City Road pub. The site was then taken over by Inhabit, run by directors of Mercer Real Estate, also known as Castleforge.
Consent was due to expire on 11 April, and Inhabit has successfully applied for an extension, on the condition that a contractor be appointed by October 2020; if this does not happen, the developer will be required to restore the site.
According to the letter to the council requesting extra time, Inhabit attempted to attract a funding partner in 2018, but this proved to be unsuccessful. The plot was also put up for sale as part of a wider PRS portfolio, with Greystar reportedly interested in the acquisition. However this deal has not progressed.
Kier was connected to the project as main contractor in 2017, when a completion date was set for 2020, but terms were not agreed.
Since the original application, a series of design alterations were approved by the city council, including variations to the building’s façade. The basement was also removed “to reduce risk and construction programme”, according to planning documents.
Inhabit is now looking for a developer or developer-contractor to bring forward the tower. A joint venture partner will be required to provide proof of funding, and to put forward a “highest and best use” of the site.
A main contractor will then be procured; this is expected to begin in December with a pre-construction services agreement, running to September next year. A start on site is scheduled for October 2020.
Proposals for the site have been in the pipeline since 2009, when 5plus Architects designed a 300-bedroom hotel across 18 storeys for Ask; this was subsequently taken on by investor Ion Equity, which was never progressed. 5plus was also the architect behind the 2015 consent, and the project is now being brought forward by Jon Matthews Architects. The site has some potentially challenging attributes, as a small plot next to a railway line and arches.