Downing First Street Plot 11
Downing's scheme features a 45-storey tower designed by SimpsonHaugh

More than £1bn of Manchester development approved

Dan Whelan

On a huge day for city centre investment, plans for two co-living schemes from Downing and Union Living, Far East Consortium’s 634-home Victoria Riverside, and Engie’s 400 homes in Miles Platting were all approved by the council, but the controversial Warp & Weft was knocked back.  

US-based arena developer Oak View Group also won approval for a £350m arena in East Manchester, a scheme described by Manchester City Council planning officer Dave Roscoe as “game-changing”. 


First Street co-living cluster 

Downing First Street

The development will be Manchester’s largest co-living scheme

Developer: Downing    

Architect: SimpsonHaugh    

Planner: Deloitte Real Estate  

Value: £300m  

After two previous unsuccessful reviews by the council’s planning committee, developer Downing was given the green light to build a £300m co-living scheme on First Street close to Mancunian Way. 

The scheme, which comprises 2,224 bedrooms across four blocks including a 45-storey tower, had been deferred and refused in recent months due to concerns raised by councillors over its potential impact on surrounding residential areas in Hulme.

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 in January.

Around 44,000 sq ft of amenity and surrounding public realm are contained in the proposals. 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 will also construct the scheme, will start on site this year. 

George Tyson, projects director at Downing, said: “We’re delighted to secure approval from the council to deliver our vision for First Street, to create a resident-led living space that will complement the area’s existing blend of cultural, leisure, retail and office space.  

“We believe our plans will add to the diversity and vibrancy of the working and residential community already based in and around First Street, and act as a catalyst for future phases of regeneration in the area, including the Oxford Road Corridor. 

Water Street co-living 

Union Living Towers

The two co-living towers occupy a site on Water Street Vita bought from Allied London 12 months ago

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

Architect: Denton Corker Marshall    

Planner: Deloitte Real Estate    

Value: £222m

Union Living, the co-living arm of Vita Group, has secured approval for the second of a pair of co-living towers on Water Street after the first was approved in July. 

Vita Group bought two sites on Water Street in the St John’s area of the city centre from developer Allied London last year and approval of the second tower, at 32-storeys, means the firm will now deliver a total of 762 apartments, totalling more than 1,600 bedspaces, across the £222m development. 

The first tower, built over 36 storeys with 800 bedspaces, was approved by the planning committee two months ago, but consent for the second was delayed due to concerns over space requirements. The tower comprises 870 bedspaces across 350 units. 

Officers said that the objections put forward in July’s meeting could not be substantiated and recommended that the scheme be approved for a second time in August, but it was deferred.  

However, yesterday the planning committee approved the scheme after being again told by officers that there were no statutory grounds to refuse it. 

Miles Platting homes 

Engie Miles Platting 2

The development was designed by Levitt Bernstein

Developer: Engie Services and Landcare  

Architect: Levitt Bernstein   

Planner: Avison Young and Allsop 

Value: £80m

Developer Engie, alongside Landcare, part of regeneration firm NPL Group, are to build 410 homes on a 16-acre plot of land off Hulme Hall Lane, next to the Rochdale Canal in Miles Platting.  

A total of 303 units will be houses, with a further 107 apartments across four blocks. The plans include 8,000 sq ft of commercial space.

Many of the homes would be delivered through the housing association One Manchester on affordable tenures. A total of 36 homes would be available for shared ownership with 34 for affordable rent.  

Additionally, the plans propose two acres of open public space. 

James Crow, divisional head of investments and development management at Engie UK & Ireland, said: “This is an exemplar of regeneration in the modern world, taking a derelict brownfield site and transforming it into a multi-tenure, energy efficient development with much-needed new homes.” 

Simon Towers, group managing director at NPL Group, added: “The proposals focus on creating a family-orientated community with a range of homes for all ages.

“The scheme will provide a high-quality sustainable neighbourhood, including local shops and enhanced connections into and around the site, ensuring that the new development is integrated with the wider community.” 

Engie and Landcare are working with funding partners to commence site activity in early 2021. 

Victoria Riverside 

FEC Victoria Riverside 2

FEC lodged plans for more than 600 flats on Dantzic Street in May

Developer: Far East Consortium   

Architect: Hawkins\Brown  

Planner: Avison Young  

Value: £185m

Victoria Riverside totals 634 homes across three towers, of 37, 26 and 18 storeys, linked by podiums.  

The £185m scheme includes 611 flats and 23 townhouses and is the largest so far to have come forward within the wider £1bn Northern Gateway masterplan, being delivered by a joint venture between FEC and Manchester City Council.  

The Northern Gateway could see 15,000 homes built to the north of the city centre over the next 20 years.  

The Angelgate site became mired in controversy after the 2017 administration of its previous developer, Pinnacle, which owed overseas investors £24m in deposits for a planned 344-home project that never came forward.  

FEC bought the site at auction in 2018 for £5.2m. The developer is bringing forward two other residential schemes nearby, at Addington Street in New Cross, and in Collyhurst. 

Hilary Brett, project director at Far East Consortium, said: “This is such an important site for us and securing planning consent is a significant milestone to allow us to kick start the regeneration of the Red Bank neighbourhood as part of the first phase of the Northern Gateway. We are hoping to be on site with a package of enabling works later this year with main construction commencing in 2021.”
Katie Tonkinson, partner at Hawkins\Brown, said: “As the first phase of the Northern Gateway project, Victoria Riverside promotes a regeneration approach that prioritises good design quality, provision of public realm and the expansion of the urban life of the city. The three towers are positioned to allow physical and visual permeability across the site, opening up and improving key routes along Bromley Street and Dantzic Street as well as helping integrate the proposals with the wider district.”


Warp & Weft

Warp And Weft Thomas Strret

The developer had hoped to start the redevelopment of the site before Christmas

Manchester City Council’s planning committee rejected plans to demolish three grade two-listed buildings that would have unlocked the Northern Quarter site for a residential scheme known as Warp & Weft, against officers’ recommendations.

In August, officers voted unanimously for a motion of “minded to refuse” the plans from developer Real Estate Investment Partnership, but the plans were deferred for further consideration in this month’s committee meeting.

The former weaver’s cottages were spot-listed in 2018 to block the redevelopment of the site after REIP won consent to bring forward a five-storey apartment block containing 20 units in 2017.

The council had originally approved REIP’s demolition proposals in August 2017, saying 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 – the application that was knocked back in August.

The developer declined to comment.

Your Comments

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Wow all this development Manchester is booming and putting other NW cities in the dust!


Just another day in Manchester, £1bn of investment is just pennies to Manc now.

By Alex

Good luck to Manchester for these projects, and yet, the trolls still feel the need to denigrate other parts of the NW and their developments, insecurity or what?

By Just saying

I think tall blocks suit Manchester’s landlocked placing.
Manchester is a working city with an industrial past, so I think the more stylish of skyscrapers wouldn’t sit well.

By Liverpool romance

The Miles Platting site is not derelict brownfield land, most of it is simply playing fields.

By Aaron

Slums of the future those co-living towers!

Zero of this is of any architectural merit; boxy tat.

By Observer

What happened with Warp and Weft. Come on PNW, it’s one of the most controversial proposed developments in years and you don’t even mention it!

By Steve

45 storeys is not high for Manchester is it. The city needs a stunning skyscraper now which is world class. 45 storeys is a bit last year.

By Elephant

Leading the way

By Security

Yes, more good news in particular taking into account the pain the world’s going through with COVID.
I don’t believe there’s any denigration towards the rest of the North West but there are times when one or two commentators come across as pompious, condescending or even superior in their outlook. Saying that, if your from the manchester area its hard to take in the amount of work going on and I’m told there’s much more to come,so there’s a giddiness or pride on what’s being achieved by PRIVATE investors.
Funny enough, just drove through Lymm heading for altrincham and there’s a tremondous view of the city center – very impressive.

By Phildered

Manchester braggadocio: remember, pride comes before a fall.

By Anonymous

Hello Steve. We were working on a follow-up story about this, and intend to publish something next week. For now, the refusal of W&W in yesterday’s meeting has been added to this article. Thank you, Sarah

By Sarah Townsend

Shocking news about W&W. I swear the council are letting the NQ run down. Those buildings shouldn’t still be standing.

By Dan

“Wow all this development Manchester is booming and putting other NW cities in the dust!” If this is not denigration I don’t know what is?

By Mr Yodel Hamley

So the massive future shanty town of co-living glass boring box (oh wait it’s 45 storeys tall so it must cool by default ) has been given the green light, what changed? The amount in the brown envelope? These buildings as incredible crap, dull and with little or no real design input from what I can tell. I recommend everyone to read the d&a, seemingly 45 million isn’t enough profit for the developer and no affordable homes will be provided either. Shame
I don’t get the fascination. Lots of other great stuff being built tho which is ace, not these tho.

By Disappointed person

Thanks Sarah! Great news it was refused. The developer now needs to go away and come back with a scheme that incorporates the listed part. If their that worried about the financial impact, I’m sure there’s a compromise. Such as adding another floor on to the new parts maybe. Anyway, I’m glad the Council have stuck to their guns on this one

By Steve

Refusing the Wrap and Weft scheme is crazy can PNW ask the local councillors what there solution is for this site? I suspect they will not have a clue. NQ residents and businesses have been let down by this shortsighted decision.

By Monty

They all look like the generic tower buildings in Sim City.

By Doris

The development on Dantzic St., looks really impressive.
Further along Dantzic St they should go for 45 to 50 storeys, they wouldn’t get this chance again so near the City. What’s happening on the traveller’s site on Dantzic
St ? Phillips Rubber closed down years ago because of this.

By George Roberts

When the city council sells off 100 year old playing fields in a low income neighbourhood and none of the media or councillors enter into any kind of public debate, its time to ask if MCC really represents the people. There was a covenant on the Miles Platting land to protect it for outdoor recreation, yet MCC is selling it off for development. Wouldn’t happen in Didsbury, would it?

By MCC Ivory Towers

Steve if you are that interested in the Wrap and Weft scheme just look at the MCC planning portal however I can tell you that the decision to refuse the proposal was wrong and shortsighted.

By Lenny68

Yodel, it’s one leg pull by one individual, get a grip.

By Phildered

Saw much of this pomp on Manctopia. Good luck filling them. What we need is a Formula E race series through the city centre to bring in much more interest. The closing of streets is alienating the disabled in their vehicles and preventing them from enjoying the city too. Some of us cannot use public transport, the footpaths are broken, kerbs not lowered and parking tickets dished out for wrong type of vehicle.
We have stacks of cash to spend but are being discriminated against by all the town planning obstacles.
I got a Motability car after the taxi service kept sending the wrong type of vehicles for my hospital appointments.
I wouldn’t want to live in Manchester city centre anytime soon.
I haven’t spent a single penny in the city centre for 11 years because it is inaccessible.
How is this going to impact an ageing population with disabilities, living in these 45-storey buildings?
Disability doesn’t discriminate!

By Andy Grey Rider

W&W,,, looked great to me. I can’t see what is being ‘protected’, there’s not a lot there. I am still waiting for the St Michaels job to hit the news, somebody with a real shovel actually doing something. The cgi of the build looks to amazing not to build, the honeycomb thing going on and the floating roof. I heard that Hodders has imput from the American dude who designed the burj khalifa. The original proposal was rightfully rejected. But the new look is stunning. No news. Remember it getting stamped off back in March. 40 floors + big 11 floor podium incorporating listed buildings and a synagogue. Hope it gets done and no skimping.

By Robert Fuller

“Manchester’s landlocked placing”, landlocked like Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Turin, Milan etc, those kind of landlocked cities you mean?

By Loganberry

NQ residents are fuming with the W&W decision.

By Dan

@Longanberry Manchester is a very bad example of a landlocked City , Paris, Madrid ,Berlin ,Milan etc are on a different planet then the city of Manchester, Manchester has everything wrong with it and to compare it to theses beautiful cities is laughable, we just build anything , the planning committee needs to be sacked, the place is hideous.

By CorryBlues.

boxes boxes boxes no one to live in theses boxes , the people of Manchester cannot afford to live in this awful architecture

By Anonymous

My criticism, is that Manchester does not seem to have a plan to create a cohesive city centre style. I agree that there are some stunning towers but they are isolated away from any real community. What is around these developments? Deansgate Square is undeniably awesome but at ground level it is surrounded by old sheds and warehouses. Angel gate is similar, as is Greengate. Hopefully this will change with time.

By Elephant

@Andy Grey Rider, questions around disability are incredibly important, but I don’t see how these developments make things worse. If anything, they make things better. Answering your last question first, modern high-rise buildings are generally far better suited to elderly people and those with disabilities. They are usually fully wheelchair compliant, with ramps, lifts and step-free access. Being modern apartments, everything is on the same level, without even bumps between rooms or entering flats. This is something that is known around the world where modern high-rises are common.

You are correct in that footpaths are certainly in a terrible state in MCR, with broken sections, high curbs etc. Evidence abroad has shown that well designed pedestrian streets can really help people with disabilities. I’m not talking the poorly designed ones like Market Street in MCR, but if you were to visit many German cities for instance, you may find their pedestrian streets are brilliant for wheelchairs, no kurbs or clunky cobbles that trip cyclists over, wobble wheelchairs or become a magnet for litter and cigarette buts. These wide, even spaces help get wheel chair users and pedestrians access to everywhere without traffic.

To do this, we need to reduce the reliance on car traffic. This means that we improve public transport – and enormously. This will get lots of people off the roads and onto trains, which will allow for a more pedestrianised streets – and one better for those with disabilities. This does not mean people who can’t use public transport can’t still drive into the city centre – just fewer people who do. So you should still be able to drive in, but once in, access the city easier.

There is always an answer to problems. MCR once was a city of firsts, but now we are sadly a city a long way behind the curve. Sometimes the answers to problems are as close as looking at nearby cities or those abroad. But there are answers.


CorryBlues – you can’t have been to Milan if you think it is beautiful. The comment was in response to a suggestion that a ‘landlocked’ city equals a bad city.

By Loganberry

Regarding the W&W refusal, perhaps the City Council should take responsibility for the development and provide much needed affordable/ social housing.

By By Jim

Near the Victoria Riverside development the footpaths and road is a disgrace along Dantzic St. Cars parked on footpaths . No enforcement of yellow line parking. Why doesn’t the Authorities double yellow line all along there. Up until recently there was a car park for £3.50 per day and they wouldn’t use it. Wake up Mcr City Council and do your job. Doesn’t give much of an impression of the the City.

By George Roberts