Thomas Street Real Estate Investment 2
Permission for the residential development was granted in 2017 but interrupted a year later by the listing

MCC sides with developer on controversial Warp & Weft

Dan Whelan

Manchester City Council has recommended allowing developer Real Estate Investment Partnerships to demolish a series of grade two-listed buildings on Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter and bring forward a mixed-use scheme. 

The former weaver’s cottages in the Northern Quarter were listed in 2018. Despite objections from conservation body Historic England, residents and councillors, officers have recommended that consent be granted for the demolition of the cottages at 42-46 Thomas Street, to enable REIP to bring forward a five-storey apartment block containing 20 units at the site. 

As well as residential, the development known as Warp & Weft also features plans for a restaurant and retail units across 9,000 sq ft on the ground floor. 

The city council approved the plans in August 2017, saying that the project “represents sustainable development and will bring significant social, economic and environmental benefits” to the area.  

A year later, Historic England granted the cottages grade two-listed status following an application from an anonymous individual. 

Then, in February this year, REIP lodged a listed building application for the demolition of the listed terrace which, if approved, would allow it to start the wider project.

Because of the listed status, if the demolition is approved, the matter will be referred to the Housing Minister who will decide whether or not to call in the decision.

A letter of objection from local residents group the Northern Quarter Forum said: “The buildings have been granted grade two-listed status and to give permission for them to be demolished would make a mockery of Heritage England.” 

The letter added that the developer should adopt a more “innovative and radical approach” to the development, which should include the renovation of the listed structures. 

Warp And Weft Thomas Strret

The developer hopes to start the redevelopment of the site before Christmas

REIP maintains that the only viable option is to go ahead with the scheme as approved in 2017 and that restoring and refurbishing the listed portion of the site would make the project unviable. 

The 2017 consent was due to expire this month but has been extended until April 2021 under legislation introduced as a result of delays in the planning process caused by Covid-19. 

The redevelopment of another grade two-listed building, 7 Kelvin Street, was also woven into the original plans. It is currently being held up by scaffolding but will be restored and converted into a two-bedroom townhouse if the project gets the go-ahead. 

The development site also includes 48-50 Thomas Street, but the unlisted buildings that occupied this part of the site were classified as unsafe and demolished in 2017 as part of the same development.

REIP is already in talks with main contractors and hopes to start on site before Christmas subject to approval. 

Thomas Street, including the area directly in front of the development site, has been pedestrianised, as part of Manchester’s drive to make the city more suitable for active travel such as walking and cycling, support city centre restaurants, and allow people to social distance more easily. 

A spokesperson for REIP said the company “does not foresee [the pedestrianisation of Thomas Street] being much of an obstacle” in terms of progressing development. 

Piccadilly ward councillors Jon-Connor Lyons and Sam Wheeler have also objected to the demolition of the Thomas Street buildings. 

Lyons said the council has “a duty to protect listed buildings, not to protect the profits of developers”, while Wheeler said that “if the developer does not feel the project is economical, [it is] free to sell the site to another entity.” 

REIP chief executive Steve Slater said: “Warp and Weft is a scheme we are eager to deliver as we are confident it will significantly improve this popular section of Thomas Street that has recently looked neglected and tired.
“It’s been brilliant to see so much life injected into the Northern Quarter with the pedestrianisation of a number of key streets, Thomas Street included. We are hopeful that the decision is made to allow for delivery of a high quality and distinct scheme that will mesh well with, and add value to, the existing Northern Quarter neighbourhood.”

The professional team for the project comprises Jon Matthews Architects, Renaissance, WSP, WECE and SLHA. 

Thomas Street Real Estate Investments

Jon Matthews Architects designed the scheme

Your Comments

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Needs to happen this, I walk past this on a daily basis and it is such an eyesore. If they were full buildings that were in tact I can completely understand them being listed but they’re not. There’s barely a wall left on one side, I doubt anyone would even realise what they once were. I think the development looks good and would improve the look of that street massively!

By Scott D

Can you demolish buildings that have already fallen down?

By steve

Great news.
This needs approval, it is a complete eyesore and sits right in the eye line of all those making use of the external seating on Thomas Street.

By Sort it out

What a dismal thing all round. So depressingly short sighted. Time for a sea change at MCC, get the cronies out.

By Loganberry

They already started a don`t blink demolition job a few years ago, probably with the intention of making it an even bigger eyesore, to sway opinion. Well go on and finish what you started. The damage is already done now.

By NQ no more

always a shame to lose listed buildings but its a great looking scheme and we know that REIP will build it and do a great job. Looking at the CGI’s it looks like a listed building of the future !

By CJA

Good decision by the council, its s dump there atm and these buildings are to a high standard. No surprise the two anti development Councillors objected!

By Bob

The right decision in my opinion. The site is an eyesore and nothing remaining of value. it will be good for the regeneration of the area to redevelop it as planned.

By Dan

Absolutely fantastic news, the northern quarter is crying out for regeneration

By Jeff Blair

Just when I thought Manchester could not sink any lower…

By Observer

The Birmighamifcation of Manchester continues. Ridiculous decision.

By Dr B

I really like the design, good decision to get the current eyesore sorted out.

By Monty

It’s a real shame that the existing buildings have been allowed to get in the state they are. Manchester City Council’s so called Heritage Officers should be ashamed of themselves. There is also an old air raid shelter underneath the old shop fittings shop. I was shown around there once. People who worked in Smithfields fish market in the war used to shelter there when an air raid was on. I’m all for progress and the proposed design is lovely but if the developer could save just part of what is listed it would be a good compromise. Maybe let them put an extra floor on the new bit to make up for it?

By Steve

The northern quarter should move on

By Lol

I think instead of trying to emulate Liverpool’s ropewalks, it would be better ripping out its crumbling old buildings, and perhaps build more new bars and nightclubs in that area.

By Liverpool romance

The NQ is an overrated dump.It is just a few shops and overpriced bars. Manchester is poor at creating proper communities in the centre. Ancoats started off promising and now it is full of dear restaurants and bars too. Where are the butchers, iron mongers, bakers, fish shops etc? People need more than a Gin and Tonic with peppercorns floating in it. Communities need variety.

By Elephant

Hardly a worthy building worth saving barely more than a pile of bricks. Time to move on.

By Nve

Great, the old buildings were terrible, not worth saving at all.

By Dan

@lol. The northern quarter HAS moved on. I hardly recognise it anymore.

By Anonymous

This looks like a great scheme, much more sensitive to the street-scape than some others in the NQ. Viability is so important otherwise nothing will get built – I am sure MCC have carefully audited the developers appraisals before coming to this decision. The ward councillors in the NQ really need to get a grip on economic reality.

By Bradford

The phrase “Birmingification” is the best yet I have seen on Place NW – I think too many of us fail to recognise Manchester has been headng in that direction for too long. For all the talk of Manch being a cultural mecca etc., lets be honest: nearly everything happening there is bland development for the sake of development. What scraps of historical interest remain are constantly under threat and the city centre isn’t far from being irrevocably on a very gloomy path.

Surely “place” matters more than ever these days. Think on when deciding these heritage based trade-offs

By Birmingification

Although sad to see the existing buildings fall into this state, the replacements are actually very decent with good brick treatments, creating a rhythm. Jon Matthews Architects best scheme yet. I’m not a massive fan of the studio’s work generally but they do at least do something different each time, unlike some studios one can name.

Elephant. That’s a fair point. Although i enjoy this quarter, especially for a night out, it can do much more. There are a number of area s of NQ which can be improved. I think the appeal is because its not homogenised or overtly commercial. Butchers etc have made a come back of sorts, especially high class ones. But I think this may change, especially with the emphasis on neighbourhoods in these Covid times. Indeed Ancoats has an actual independent grocery! Whole food places have also made a big comeback.
I do agree though with creating places with a mixed demographic for true neighbourhoods. I think this may well come sooner than you think.

By SW