Manchester City Council has approved the conversion of the House of Fraser building on Deansgate into 546,000 sq ft of offices and plans for 1,200 homes at Rochdale Road Gas Works, but rejected Fusion Student’s 28-storey tower saying it was “over-obtrusive”.
House of Fraser overhaul
Architect: Sheppard Robson
Planner: Deloitte Real Estate
Now the scheme has been approved by the council’s planning committee yesterday, owner Investec is to convert and extend the grade two-listed Kendal Milne building in Manchester city centre to provide 564,000 sq ft of offices.
Under the plans, the property, which currently houses department store House of Fraser, would be redeveloped into 250,000 sq ft of offices, as well as 100,000 sq ft of retail on the ground floor and basement levels.
In addition, the adjoining Fraser Building, which includes the King Street West NCP multistorey car park, would be demolished and replaced with a 14-storey block comprising 310,000 sq ft of offices and 54,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space. A public space would also be created at Southgate, between King Street West and Parsonage Gardens.
The proposals were submitted in February and drawn up in response to the decline of high street retail, Johannesburg-listed Investec said at the time. The scheme was designed by architect Sheppard Robson.
The Art Deco Kendal Milne was purpose built in 1939 as a department store. But with large-scale retail facing an uncertain future due to the rise of e-commerce and the ongoing pandemic, its owner views the office proposal as a more sustainable use, and one that would safeguard the building for the long term.
Subject to planning approval, construction work is expected to start at the beginning of 2022 and complete by early 2025, according to a planning statement by Investec’s consultant Deloitte Real Estate.
The project team also includes Stephen Levrant Heritage Architecture as heritage advisor; Cundall providing multidisciplinary engineering services; Layer as landscape architect; MHBC Cumming as development and project manager, and Fairhurst as structural engineer.
Investec’s executive director of real estate Mickey Nurtman said: “We are pleased to see our plans for this important city centre site get the go ahead. A lot of hard work has been invested to get us to this point and we are confident the scheme will have a truly positive impact on Manchester city centre…and be a focal point of Deansgate for many years to come.”
And Ed Britton, assistant director at Deloitte Real Estate, said: “The permission allows for a repurposing of space throughout, supporting employment growth and delivering a new development that will breathe vitality into this part of Deansgate and the nearby streets.
“The scheme will also deliver major improvements to the local public realm, creating a pedestrianised street contributing towards a more sustainable environment.”
Developer: Southvalley Estates, a subsidiary of MCR Property Group
Architect: AHR Architects
MCR’s approved development on Gould Street, part of the 6.6-acre former Rochdale Road Gas Works site, falls within the £4bn Victoria North masterplan. The developer aims to build nine blocks ranging from eight to 33 storeys containing 1,200 homes in total.
As well as the homes, which would comprise a mix of apartments and townhouses, the scheme features commercial units, a park between Gould Street and Bromley Street and an east-west pedestrian and cycle link through the site.
The £400m development would be built over four phases detailed here, starting with the corner on Gould Street closest to Rochdale Road. The tallest tower is likely to be the last piece of the scheme to be built, towards the end of this decade.
The first homes at the Gasworks are expected to be completed in 2023. The project team includes BDP as civil engineer, Planit-IE as landscape architect and Curtins as highways consultant.
The site forms part of the New Town neighbourhood, one of seven outlined in the Victoria North masterplan, which totals 383 acres north of the city centre and intends to deliver 15,000 homes over the next 20 years.
“The Gasworks development will breathe life into a largely forgotten corner of the city centre fringe, bringing purpose and an energy to an area that is currently characterised by surface car parks,” said Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, after the plans were approved on Thursday.
“Residential investment at this scale should be celebrated and will contribute significantly to meeting demand for high quality homes in this part of the city.”
Nick Lake, asset manager for MCR Property Group, added: “This is the jewel in the crown for MCR. We’re a Manchester-based business and we all felt a responsibility to create something spectacular on home turf. There is no doubt that the Gasworks will provide an aspirational and inspirational place to live and work.”
The project will also act as a catalyst for further regeneration of the post-industrial Irk Valley, added Matthew Hard, associate director at planning consultancy WSP. “With its carbon credentials, green infrastructure and focus on walking and cycling, I’m confident that the neighbourhood will become a future exemplar of town planning.”
AHR’s regional director Dan Barnes said: “The development breathes new life back into this former gasworks brownfield site, creating a unique series of pedestrian friendly public spaces that navigate the dramatic 14-metre change of level across the site while creating new connections to its surroundings.”
Fusion’s Deansgate tower
Developer: Fusion Students
Architect:Corstorphine + Wright Architects
Planner: Cushman & Wakefield
Manchester City Council rejected Fusion’s proposals to create 550 bedspaces in a 28-storey tower close to Renaker’s Deansgate Square cluster of residential towers, saying the scheme would “undermine the objective to create a high-quality residential area that has a focus for families”.
The project also fails to demonstrate an unmet need for student accommodation, and would not have been located in close proximity to any university campuses.
The scheme was recommended for refusal by planning committee members ahead of yesterday’s meeting.
Downing’s 792-bedroom River Street Tower, which completed last year, is less than half a mile from the Fusion site. The city council said the height, scale and massing of Fusion’s proposed development “would form an over-obtrusive feature within the street scene”.
Corstorphine + Wright Architects designed the tower and Cushman & Wakefield is the planning consultant.
Warren Rosenberg, co-founder of Fusion Students, told Place North West: “Fusion Students is proud to have brought forward a scheme that would give students looking to study in Manchester a more modern, safe and affordable choice to live in.
“Our application followed months of engagement with the local community as well as business, university and political stakeholders.
“We are disappointed with the decision and now await the formal notice from Manchester City Council before we decide how to progress.”