Manchester Metropolitan University has lodged an application for a 491-bed student accommodation scheme at Birley Fields.
The proposal, for the site known as Birley Plot E – the final plot in the Birley Fields masterplan area – is billed as Birley Residences phase two, following MMU’s delivery of a previous student accommodation scheme in the area.
The site, close to the Hulme Arch on Stretford Road, is cleared and has an existing outline consent for 475 bed spaces dating back to 2011. It is surrounded by roads on three sides and by an access road for existing student living space on its fourth side. The site is closer to the MMU Oxford Road campus than phase one, sitting inside the Princess Road boundary.
GWP Architecture’s design is for a building arranged in a sequence of connected parts wrapping around the site’s perimeter. The proposed design shows the Birchall Way elevation, overlooking Princess Road, to be the tallest part, at 16 storeys.
The Stretford Road elevation will be six storeys, seeking to maintain the existing streetscape, and the part of the building on the side of the Stonelow Close access road will be 11 storeys. The buildings feature shared social spaces within a central core accessed from the southern, Bonsall Road side. Its two towers will be parallel to the existing Hornchurch Court block, to the east along Bonsall Road.
With 967 bed spaces already delivered in the masterplan area, the total number of spaces allowed on this plot was initially only set to be a maximum of 233 bed spaces. However, the university’s estates plan has been revised and pre-application discussions with the council have led to an agreement that around 500 spaces is an acceptable volume.
The professional team includes Deloitte Real Estate as planner, Curtins as structural engineer, CPW on M&E and environmental services and Altor Fire as fire engineer. GWPA is also responsible for the scheme’s landscape architecture.
A £27.5m tender was issued by MMU in summer 2017 for the delivery of the Plot E building, at which point it was intended to comprise around 475 units. The enlarged scheme went before a Places Matter design review panel last autumn then underwent public consultation between March and July this year.
The £139m Birley Fields campus was opened in 2014, following the decision by MMU to streamline its estate from seven sites to two.
The land was donated by Manchester City Council, with the 15-acre campus designed to accommodate 6,000 students and 500 staff, with 1,200 student accommodation spaces. The main building is the 250,000 sq ft Faculty of Education & Health, Psychology & Social Care, designed by Sheppard Robson.