Student Castle, GMS PArking, P. Planning Docs
Lawyers have handed Manchester City Council a pre-action letter outlining its reasons for the challenge. Credit: via planning documents

Manchester faces legal challenge over 55-storey skyscraper 

Dan Whelan

Residents of Macintosh Village want the city council to overturn a controversial decision to approve an 850-unit student accommodation tower on Great Marlborough Street, claiming proper planning processes were not followed. 

Lawyers representing the residents have handed Manchester City Council a pre-action letter outlining its case and its intention to appeal the matter in the High Court if necessary, according to a report by the Manchester Evening News. 

The letter questions the city council’s decision to approve GMS Parking’s £130m plans for the 55-storey tower close to Oxford Road in July. 

The residents’ legal challenge would be based on a perceived failure on the part of GMS Parking to prove the need for purpose built student accommodation in the area. 

The impact the scheme would have on air quality, and the loss of parking provision for Macintosh Village residents are also among the reasons put forward to support the legal challenge. 

Under the developer’s plans, several parking spaces used by residents of Macintosh Village would be lost, an issue lawyers say infringes on residents’ leasehold rights. 

Student Castle, GMS Parking 2

Glenn Howells Architects designed the project. Credit: via planning documents

In addition, residents claim Cllr Paul Andrews, a member of Manchester City Council’s planning committee, failed to declare a conflict of interest relating to the project. 

Cllr Andrews sits on the advisory board for the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, which has land interests in the area, residents say. 

He was instrumental in the project’s approval, moving the recommendation to approve the planning application after it had looked like the plans would be deferred for a third time. 

GMS Parking’s plans involve the reduction in size of the multistorey car park on Great Marlborough Street, with the space created being used to build a part 55-storey complex offering 853 student accommodation units.  

A four-storey amenity building featuring 8,460 sq ft of incubator workspace is also included in GMS’ proposals. 

More than 750 letters of objection against the project were lodged prior to the approval of the proposals. 

The scheme was previously being brought forward as a Student Castle project, the company that GMS director Edward Cade co-founded in 2010.   

Student Castle developed the nearby 37-storey student tower since sold to Liberty Living. 

Glenn Howells Architects designed the project and Deloitte Real Estate is the planning consultant. Laing O’Rourke is lined up to construct the tower.

Manchester City Council was contacted for comment. 

Your Comments

Read our comments policy here

Leaseholders in central Manchester will have to learn, one way or another, that this city is expanding rapidly. Sell up or put up. A skyscraper in the urban core is not something to have a song and dance about, it is completely expected.

By It’s a city

Another saga like St. Michael’s. Not sure what the protest is? The area around there is a dump. The Mackintosh factory is only half developed with weeds growing out of half the buildings, the streets are full of litter, the eating hostelries are tacky. This might give people an actual reason to go there, to look at the sandstone tower. Get on with it.

By Elephant

I don’t like the tower myself. It’s too tall for the area and I’m fed up of this checkerboard look but the argument that they need to prove that there is a need for student accommodation in the area, a stones throw away from MMU and when MCC have a proved a plan to locate SA away from Fallowfield already is ludicrous. On another note, to approve this and not Deansgate South in the same meeting has alarm bells ringing. Sounds like another Speaker’s House situation.

By Andrew

I will never understand people who choose to live in urban areas that oppose urbanisation.
You have to wonder – how can someone be a NIMBY if they don’t even have a backyard?


Is there anything that Macintosh lot don’t whine about? One google search and multiple articles come up. Also 750 objection letters – are there even that many residents there? Every letter should be authenticated.

Just get this built, and make sure to stick the rubbish chutes directly opposite the Macintoshians

By Alex

I don’t think the infringement of the leaseholder rights was a matter that should be the subject of a Planning Committee’s consideration.

As for the argument that the developer needs to prove the need for PBSA in the area I think the resident group really needs to think what a pandoras box this argument could open up for the First Street / Cambridge Street area – in fact the wider Oxford Road Corridor area. The City Council’s planning policy over the last ten years has constrained PBSA in the city, in particular the city centre.

I suspect the argument of the need for PBSA can be proven and that there is both a need and a demand for PBSA in the Oxford Road Corridor.

By Anonymous

What difference does it make to them whether there’s a need for student housing? If there’s not it’s the developers that lose out on income. This scheme boosts the economy, provides many jobs and improves diversity as many of these students will be from all over the world, though maybe that’s the problem for these “furious” nimbys?


Pre action letters cost nothing to send out, MCC should call their bluff, the arguments from these people are bordering on hysterical. This needs building, if you don’t like development sell up and move to the suburbs.

By Bob

No one seems to have a grasp of MCC planning policy.
Plenty of projects in the adjacent area not objected to, so maybe the residents aren’t as NIMBY as some of you make out.

By Simon

Bland overdevelopment.

By Anonymous

It’s a horrible scheme and I hope MCC lose yet another judicial review.

By 1981

The building will help spruce up the area it could help to increase property prices.

By Meeseeks


Not in my back balcony – haha can’t be Nimbys as they do not even have back yards haha.

By Jack

At a time we are supposed to be saving energy, why are we continuing with high rises that have been proven to be less energy efficient the higher they go. Better solutions need to be found.


This will be won so easily in court by the council. Their case is about as flimsy as it can get… “prove the need for purpose built student accommodation in the area”… hmmm, the layer just needs to point at the two huge universities. If there was ONE area in GM with a need for student accomodation, you don’t have to look past the largest concenstration of students in the north of England
The real reason these people are complaining is that they’ll losing thier car park space


At a time we are supposed to be saving energy, why are we continuing with development at all. We should all stay at home, if we have one, we won’t be building more, to save energy..

By Cal

Students or not, it’s a heap of junk building. If the developer brought something meaningful to the table then maybe it would be so contested.

Trash architecture

By Not a student

My only sympathy with the objectors is that they appear to be owner occupiers who were sold a dream of city centre living that has not played out in reality.

The city centre is not a place for owner occupiers. All development should be provided for rent only. Renters have shorter term horizons better suited to the rate of change in the urban environment and a happy disregard for considerations diminished capital value.

By Stalinist Central Planner

Perhaps a cave for us Cal

By Bo

From an economic perspective it must be built. Increasing the amount of Student accommodation is crucial. Manchester/Salford has easily the largest Student population outside London and crucially, it’s the only City outside of London which retains more than 50% of it’s Higher education students after graduation. This development presents a unique opportunity for much needed bespoke student accommodation, which will help to increase footfall and revitalise the area, especially as many local bars and restaurants have had to close because of Covid Lockdowns and restrictions. Aesthetically, I like the design and the exterior cladding blends well with the Victorian architecture across the road…. GET IT BUILT.

By Bilderburg Attendee

Do towers have to pass an ugly test to get built around Oxford road?

By Nimble nimbly

Worry about fire safety on such a high flat since most of the flats already built in Manchester are now not considered safe (cladding scandal) and leaseholders having to pay to remediate. Any investors/buyers be very aware. The developers and the building needs proper scrutiny before it’s signed off.

By Michael

The Macintosh Mill has been developed it consists of apartments. The old mill referred to is not that one. Because of this kind of development there will be less council tax payers because student dont pay any and residents will be priced out of the centre to to rising land values. I want our city centre to develop and expand and the blueprint for that has been to return tax paying residents to the city centre this development does nothing for that.

By Serafini

If these insufferable nimbys want to live in a stagnant city, then go a few miles west and they’ll be in paradise.

This development should absolutely go ahead, the arguments against it are absolutely clutching at straws. Impact on air quality? What about if these potential students are in private accommodation all over the city and have to commute into the centre? Also rather contradictory to their loss of parking concerns.

Commenters mentioning ‘saving energy’?! Are you actually that ignorant? Perhaps your suggestion is that we could plaster the land with 200+ houses instead, take up a much bigger footprint, be worse for commuting and bulldoze over some more countryside?

People really are idiotic. What do they want from a city? Where do we house people if not in cities and in towers? We have limited land and an almost unlimited space right above our heads. It’s not difficult is it.

By The Squirrel's Nuts

They don’t pay tax so let’s not allow students so live in our town, with three major universities? What a weird way of looking at things, dear lord

By Dan

This is actually only about speculation on land values. If you think that those priorities will create a fine place to live in your are mistaken. Lower rise more liveable developments of new or converted buildings have revived the city because it has encouraged permanent tax paying residents to reside here. No tax will be paid by the residents of this building.

By Serafini