Downing 6
Downing's scheme was designed by SimpsonHaugh

Manchester co-living schemes return for decision

Dan Whelan

Having failed to win consent last month, two co-living schemes from developers Vita Group and Downing totalling more than 3,000 bedspaces, have been lined up for approval next week. 

First Street 

Downing 4

Downing’s scheme would provide accommodation fro more than 2,000 people

Developer: Downing  

Architect: SimpsonHaugh  

Planner: Deloitte Real Estate  

Downing’s project had been recommended for approval at last month’s meeting but was deferred so that a site visit could take place. 

The developer and contractor wants to create a 2,224-bedroom co-living scheme at Manchester’s First Street, including a 45-storey tower alongside three blocks stepped in height.  

Block breakdown  

  • Of the three blocks, one, located on the corner of Hulme Street and Wilmott Street, would step up in height from 10 to 18 storeys and then again to 22.  
  • A second, at the corner of Chester Street and Wilmott Street would rise from 18 storeys, to 22 and finally up to 26.  
  • The third block, fronting Mancunian Way, would decrease from 17 storeys to 13 and then 10, stepping down from the road towards the centre of the site.   

Downing bought the site, Plot 11 on the edge of First Street, from investment manager Patrizia last March for around £18m.   

The developer submitted plans for the scheme in January, including more than 2,200 bedrooms and 44,000 sq ft of amenity and surrounding public realm.  

The flats would be split between 11 accommodation types, ranging from compact studios to five-bedroom apartments.  

The co-living proposals include 1,113 apartments, divided between one-, two-, three-, four-, and five-bedrooms, along with 1,091 studio apartments.  

Downing, which would construct the scheme, wants to start on site this year subject to approval. 

Water Street 

Union Living Towers 2

The two Vita co-living towers Credit: Our Studio

Developer: Vita Group and Manchester Quays, a joint venture between Allied London and Manchester City Council

Architect: Denton Corker Marshall  

Planner: Deloitte Real Estate  

Having bought two sites on Water Street within the St John’s area of the city centre from developer Allied London last year, Vita wants to build a pair of co-living towers comprising 762 apartments – totalling more than 1,600 bedspaces – under its Union Living brand. 

The first, a 36-storey tower comprising around 800 bedspaces, was approved by the planning committee last month. 

The second tower, at 32 storeys, was minded for refusal by councillors on the grounds that it comprised too many units – 870 bedspaces across 350 units – and lacked parking provision for disabled people. 

Officers have said that the objections put forward at last month’s meeting cannot be substantiated and have recommended that the scheme be approved. 

Although one of Vita’s towers is four storeys taller than its neighbour, the 36-storey building provides fewer flats due to the fact that three floors are given over entirely to 21,500 sq ft of co-working space.  

Both towers would provide 180 studio apartments, available only on short-term lets of up to six months.  

The remaining units across the two towers would be two-, three- or four-bedroom co-living apartments.  

Your Comments

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Damn dawg, Manctopia be on fire baby

By M word

The Council should not support these ‘co-living’ apartments. They must insist on the minimum space standards for studio apartments, even if that means the number of overall apartments decreases. Some of these ‘co-living’ apartments being approved in Manchester and Liverpool are below 20sq.m (which is almost half of the minimum space standards for a studio apartment!).

Not only that, but our minimum space standards are the lowest in Europe as it is! How can this be sustainable development?

By Anonymous

How dare they say no to Manchester.

By L5 alive

Grim just grim on so many levels
Towers of glass, dull, repetitive, no imagination. Im all for new developments but this is shame old rubbish from the same old architects and developers. Come on guys, how about something inspirational, how about not the ame cladding panel used on every facade possible, (deigning this must be sooooo easy) how about not maximising your profits developers (reported 45million if the Design and Access statement is to be believed) also 0 affordable homes. :(
I feel sorry for the people who will end up in this chicken cages.


By Disappointed person

The death of Manchester if these go ahead

Can we get some building that’s are not just extrudered rectangles? Is that to much to ask?

By anon

I really do think you guys need to get out more. The quality of buildings in Manchester is envied by everyone else and I do mean everyone else. Have a look at new build in Birmingham Liverpool Leeds Bristol Glasgow, the majority of London, all places I visit a lot and the quality is not a patch on Manchester. Show me schemes and prove me wrong!!

By Bluetit

I agree these cannot be allowed to be built….they are nothing more that cells in the sky and future slums. Manchester is going down a dangerous path if they start to allow developments like this to be built. The size of some of these units will be bordering on scandalous and living in such confined spaces will surely affect peoples mental well-being.

By Manc man

More Simpson Haugh specials – one of the most drab Architectural practices in the UK.

By Oscar

More expensive appartment blocks planned for mcr city centre. The highest one in town at the moment is 64 storeys, it’s the south tower on deansgate square. I’ve looked on the Rightmove website and flats are priced for a 1bed is £1000/£1100 a month and 2bed priced is £1500/£1700 and 3bed is £2100/£2300 a month. To buy a luxury swanky apartment (little box) on deansgate square, you have to have loads of money. On the rightmove website and other property websites, prices start at around £450,000 to £550,000 to a whopping £900,000 for the flats that are higher up in the sky. Not Affordable for what you get, a small place in the clouds.

By Darren born bred

The downing scheme is brilliant, I hope it gets built. It will offer a new option for renters not currently available.

By Dan

Who wants to live in the sky, 40 to 50 floors up. All these flats in about 5years time will go down in price.

By Regular northerner.

This is the last thing manchester needs. Sounds like student accommodation. Please, please build REAL affordable housing for the people of Manchester.

By Horrified resident!

Vita scheme is simply disgusting, another dull looking eye sore to scar Manchester, is this ever going to stop

By Anonymous

The Living In a Box lyrics always pop into my mind when looking at these monstrosities.

By Anon

It makes me laugh when people ask for affordable housing in Manchester, there is affordable housing all over Manchester, if you can’t afford you’ll have to move to Doncaster I’m afraid

By Dan