Controversial schemes in central Manchester at 20-36 High Street and Central Retail Park both secured approval at yesterday’s planning committee, despite vocal challenges from the gallery and councillors.
20-36 High Street
Number of apartments: 361
Number of storeys: 22
Retail and leisure space: 12,000 sq ft
Architect: Feilden Clegg Bradley
CEG’s High Street scheme adjacent to the Arndale shopping centre was on the agenda for the fourth time after a series of deferrals.
There was vehement opposition from Cllr Adele Douglass and Sam Wheeler, who called the proposal in the Shudehill conservation area “a disgrace”, that the loss of Manchester institution Café Metro would harm visitors to the city, and said that the proposed “height, size, location, and heritage of the scheme is wrong” for this part of the city.
Despite this, and other objections raised before the committee, the scheme was approved seven to two.
According to Dave Roscoe, Manchester City Council’s planning development manager, the provision of affordable housing would have been impacted by altering the scheme’s height or other characteristics. However, an addendum was brought forward by the planning committee for the head of planning to attempt to retain the art deco façade of part of the building which houses Café Metro as best they could.
The popular market stalls which sit beneath the site are to be relocated closer to the NCP Car Park facing Afflecks.
Former Central Retail Park
Developer: Manchester City Council
Planner: Paul Butler Associates
After hearing from representatives of the adjacent New Islington Free School and the agent, and intense scrutiny, the proposals to use the space at the former Central Retail Park as a car park for two years were approved much to the distress of members of the public.
The council’s proposals for the car park comes to generate revenue on the plot. Committee members called for a condition on the pricing of the car park to still encourage people to use more sustainable modes of transport.
Opposition to the scheme was based in the claims that it would increase pollution to a dangerous level for the school, that it would encourage more people to drive into the city in an already congested area, and that during match days at the nearby Etihad football stadium, it would make the area incredibly busy.
Cllr Jon-Connor Lyons said that the Council’s claims that the scheme wouldn’t increase air pollution due to the fact it was previously used as a car park, were “a load of rubbish” as its use would be “completely different to previous.” The car park attached to the retail park was restricted to two hours and ticketed, whereas the 24 hour car park proposed in a now developed area would be in constant use.
Cllr Paul Andrews said: “We need housing not car parks, so I want to put on record that in two years’ time if not earlier, the scheme should be affordable, and if possible, social housing.”
Cllr Lovecy also said that she was “disappointed that we aren’t realising our ambitions for the site.”
Cllr John Flanagan noted the irony that Manchester City Council had “passed the climate emergency motion” before agreeing with Cllr Andrews’ point about the site becoming affordable or social housing in two years.
Architect: MgMa Studio
Scheme: Creation of cafe and roof garden
To round out the debate-filled planning committee, the proposal for the creation of a café and roof garden at Blackfriars House off Parsonage Gardens was approved unanimously.
Objections were raised from Cllr William Jeavons as the proposals could increase congestion “on an already congested street” but otherwise appreciated the improvements that Bruntwood had made to its proposals and commended the firm’s ability to listen to the local residents.
The ground floor will have a café, run by the same operator as the restaurant, and a lounge, event space and co-working areas.