Sarah Ramsbottom, managing director of Castlefield Estates, has spoken out against proposals from Renaker Build for 188 apartments on Chester Road, which she said “will dwarf the historic canal basin”.
A planning application was submitted earlier this year by Renaker for two blocks at 2-4 Chester Road, a 40,000 sq ft scrubland plot on the edge of the historic Castlefield Basin in Manchester.
The design by OMI Architects show a 21-storey tower alongside a block of up to 12-storeys, which would sit next to the grade two-listed Congregation Chapel and viaduct.
Ramsbottom said she believes the height and design of the development contravenes the Basin’s conservation area and Urban Heritage Park status. The company has employed independent planning consultants and heritage experts to fight the application.
Ramsbottom said: “On the one hand the City Council is lauding Castlefield as the true historic neighbourhood and tourism treasure it is, and the next it allows second-rate development plans like this to even be considered. I am appalled that it has reached this stage.
“Castlefield is a rare treasure, unique to the city and special enough to be classified a conservation area by the city and proposed as a World Heritage Site.
“We are not opposed to the development of Castlefield, but this scheme is over development and turns its back on the basin.
“Because of the different height levels visitors to the basin would be faced with an impenetrable 5m high wall, punctured only by vents because it hides a car park.
“This scheme has no care or consideration for Castlefield and while we are happy to lead the fight I would urge everyone who cares about Manchester and its historic origins and treasures to voice their opposition.
“Any development here has to protect and enhance the conservation area and this singularly fails in this aim. The bulk and scale of these buildings will dominate the Castlefield Basin and also the grade two-listed Congregational Chapel. The proposed development will adversely alter the very special character of Castlefield, not just for those who live and work here but for the City as a whole.”
Sarah Ramsbottom’s husband, Elle R Leisure director James Ramsbottom, said that both of the operation’s Dukes 92 and Albert’s Shed restaurants would be objecting, despite the potential benefit from around 600 new residents.
Castlefield Estates was formerly run by James Ramsbottom’s father Jim Ramsbottom, and led on the extensive regeneration of Castlefield in the 1990s.
Ian Christie from residents’ group Castlefield Forum said: “We consider the sheer scale of the proposed buildings makes them overly dominant and intrusive in a highly sensitive and distinctive part of the canal basin. They seem to have been designed with far more regard to Chester Road and the adjacent Town House and Owen Street developments than to the canal basin in which they stand. The boundary of the Conservation Area is not the canal towpath to the west of the site as the developers might prefer, but on Chester Road to the east of the site so as to deliberately include all sites surrounding the basin.
“We are writing to all Forum members to share our views but would welcome the opportunity to work with, not against, developers.”