Fusion Students, Deansgate CGI
The scheme is Fusion's first in Manchester and second in the North West

Manchester bats away Fusion’s Deansgate tower 

Dan Whelan

Plans for the 28-storey development are to be refused after the city council said the developer “failed to demonstrate an unmet need for student accommodation” despite the authority’s own desire to see more student housing in the city centre. 

Last October, Manchester City Council said it was hoping to recoup up to £17m in council tax revenue by expanding the offer of purpose-built student accommodation in the city centre and attracting students out of private rented sector housing in areas such as Fallowfield. 

The provision of additional PBSA in the city centre could “support the freeing up of mainstream housing currently occupied by students”, Manchester City Council said in a report to its executive committee last autumn. 

The council said that the relative lack of student accommodation compared to the city’s student numbers means “the mainstream lettings market is the most likely destination [for students]”. 

However, Fusion Students’ plans to add 550 bedspaces to the city centre’s PBSA pipeline have been recommended for refusal by the city council. 

Fusion Deansgate

Corstorphine + Wright Architects designed the tower

The site, previously owned by Beech Holdings, “is not in close proximity to the university campuses or to a high frequency public transport route which passes this area” and thus fails to meet the requirements of policies with Manchester’s core strategy, the council said. 

Downing’s 792-bedroom River Street Tower, which completed last year, is located less than half a mile from the Fusion site.

In addition, the city council said Fusion’s scheme “does not demonstrate a positive regeneration impact in its own right and would undermine the objective to create a high-quality residential area that has a focus for families”, as stated in the Great Jackson Street Development Framework. 

Located next to Renaker’s Deansgate Square skyscraper cluster, the city council said the height, scale and massing of Fusion’s proposed development “would form an over-obtrusive feature within the street scene”. 

“The building would have a poor relationship with Deansgate Quay, creating a feeling of overcrowdedness and being overbearing for residents,” a report to the council’s planning committee said. 

The choice of cladding also came in for criticism, described as “poor quality” by officers. 

Corstorphine + Wright Architects designed the tower and Cushman & Wakefield is the planning consultant.

Fusion Students was contacted for comment. 

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Quote: “is not in close proximity to the university campuses or to a high frequency public transport route which passes this area” and thus fails to meet the requirements of policies with Manchester’s core strategy, the council said.

This makes no sense. The plot is 4 minutes walk away from Castlefield Metrolink stop, which has the highest frequency of any Metrolink station on the network. It also is 3 minutes walk from Deansgate Station, which while it is not high frequency, is still a train station and one of the few with a direct Metrolink interchange.

By EOD

Typical of MCC and its officers!
High quality development with obvious regeneration benefits and they want to refuse PP.
Yet another example smells of not being by a favoured architect or planning consultant. Feel sorry for Fusion and their architect.

By Fairness

That is a gorgeous building. I hope it gets approved on appeal!

By A

I fully understand and support the comments on the building being outside a student area, but not really understand the ones on the height.

How is that too tall and overbearing when few steps away there’s 4 massive residential towers?
Baffling.

By Surprised

Mixed signals and muddled thinking!

Approach the various educational establishments and see what THEY think!

By Mark Hamilton

Something very fishy about this.Same issue at the other end of Deansgate recently with Speakers house. Same odd reasons that made absolutely no sense. I wonder were the same councillors involved. I think an appeal and an investigation are due.

By Anonymous

Its 0.6m from MMU, I think students can manage that walk given their sprightly physicality. It would be interesting to know the real actual reasons for refusal.

By Harpsicord

Loads of students live round here, Deansgate Square is full of them

By Cal

Not sure why people are confused that this is the wrong place for student accommodation. The Metrolink has east-west connections so they do not go directly to the universities. Deansgate station has pretty poor service, and I know as I regularly walk past it to use the trains from Oxford Road instead! In any event, its the same east-west connections that are the wrong direction.

I also don’t think this is a case of wrong architect, wrong planner, that is based on old beliefs that are not really evident in the city any more. Having said that, I don’t understand what the officers’ concerns are regarding the design. I think the design is great and would be a good addition to this side of the city. I hope it comes back as a resi scheme.

By D

Hmm, as much as I like the design (and I agree that the council seem to be contradicting themselves) they do have a point that the location isn’t particularly suited to student residential. Does the city really need such a tall building in a prominent location that will be empty for large parts of the year outside term time? Surely proper residential makes more sense

By Frank

The more I think about it, none of this makes sense.

Previous comments about Metrolink and Oxford Road Station are sound – and what if the Students had to walk a little way or work out a route for themselves, it should not be beyond them!
And…if the Council are serious about regeneration and support from the commercial sector, it should not be beyond them to sort out a NEW bus route with the Bus Companies to accommodate the new demand.
…or do they not want to encourage newer Architects and Developers?

By Mark Hamilton

The last time I checked, the tram went nowhere near the universities!! And if you think lookalike Corten steel ppc cladding would produce a fantastic building you have a different quality threshold than me..

By Gazza

Great Jackson st will be special. Renaker are building a school……it’s on site now and a park. This an area where families will want to live. Do you really want a large group of students here when better sites are available close to the university??

By Les lap

Although I don’t dislike the look of the building, I agree with the council that the location is not right for PBSA. The site would be much better for hotel or serviced accommodation. It’s a bit of a walk to the main campus of UoM and MMU.

By Another Manc

Crazy decision. Great building from a good developer. A real lack of consistency from MCC these days, starting to put developers off from investing in the city.

By Derek

Another silly decision from Manchester Council. Some of the towers at Deansgate Square are nearly twice the size of this building; it’s a 10 minute walk to the universities on Oxford Road, short train ride away from Salford University, and to say there’s no public transport nearby is a bit daft considering Deansgate is a Metrolink/bus/rail interchange and is a three minute walk away.

Very easy appeal this. MCC should be more careful. I know they want to be seeing to be doing something but just rejecting planning applications at random is not the way to achieve this.

By Anonymous

Lack of ‘real’ policy (whether in respect of tall buildings or PBSA) and a reliance on reactive Strategic Regeneration Frameworks will trip the Council up eventually. In the absence of these its easy to see why there are grounds for accusations of favouritism.

By UnaPlanner

Look like somebody is unhappy at having students next to ‘luxury’ flats.

By Babb

Nice design, bit obscene height-wise given its proximity to a 5 story building next door.

Nowhere near student locations, so student dorms doesn’t make sense – although standard flats which students could choose to live in, sure.

Would love to see something on that plot though, ideally commercial, think Deansgate Square has lumped enough residential into that neighbourhood.

By Tony

Why the insistence that students should have to, or want to, live in a student area or by the university? Surely the City should be striving for a mix of uses/occupants in all areas.

By J

Unaplanner have you read core strategy H12???

By Planning nerd

But who would want live in them?

By Liverpool romance

It is a shame if this doesn’t go ahead.

By Elephant

Comments about the east/west corridor not serving the university are clearly forgetting Salford University, which is accessible via Deansgate Railway Station, as well as their large campus at Media City which is on the Met.

By Red Rose

‘But who would want live in them?’… Err Students…it’s pretty much in the story.

By Anonymous

There is an opportunity here to build something impressive at the ‘Southern Gateway’. Why not take a lead and look at The Flatiron in New York and go with brick? (Even brick cladding at the lower level would help imo).

By MrP

Yes , the attraction was definitely the ‘flat iron’ look. At least the new hotel at the top of Piccadilly and Newton St which has a similar but rather more impressive look than this iteration seems to have the go ahead. This site deserves something similar though.

By Simon

Maybe MCC should be clearer about not having student accommodation in prime residential locations inside the city core, where they won’t pay council tax and change the character of the area.

By Rich X

Correct me if I am wrong, but the thousands of students in Fallowfield, Withington and Didsbury aren’t in walking distance to the Universities and they seem to manage to commute to them??

By Student

@Liverpool Romance

I was sceptical at first but honestly I’ve never seen anything like it outside of London.
I thought I was going to hate the Deansgate South Towers, but when I drove past them along the Manc Way I was actually pretty impressed.
The area seems to contrast well to the more traditional feel of Castlefield.
Not sure how it will look with loads of grey towers though.

By Anonymous

Definitely a contentious decision. I would expect an appeal. Like others that have mentioned Speakers house, I found that decision utterly baffling.

By Robert Fuller

It’s a sensible decision, there are plenty of sites within the proximity of the universities, for example on upper brook street. Having students clustered makes sense from a urban development perspective, services are readily availability to them and their living habits are also contained. Why have a block in the middle of town that would be empty for 4 months of the year?

By Mr White