Realty ‘reaches agreement’ over BBC site plans

Simon Donohue

Realty Estates today said it had reached agreement with Manchester City Council over the future use of the former BBC site in Oxford Road.

They say that they are now preparing to seek planning permission for an office-led mixed-use development including student accommodation, leisure facilities and a small supermarket.

Sticking points in discussions with the council had been the amount of student accommodation and the scale of retail units, with the city council's draft strategic regeneration framework specifying only a small amount of student accommodation and raising concerns about a large supermarket on the site.

Realty says it will now redesign its masterplan for the site in line with the council's regeneration framework. It is likely to include retail space totalling 30,000 sq ft and some student accommodation, although numbers are not being specified at this stage.

Manchester City Council's executive approved the strategic regeneration framework for the area yesterday.

A report to the executive contained a submission from Realty suggesting that they disagreed with elements of the framework relating to retail and student accommodation.

However, Realty said it would now formulate its plans in line with the framework.

The council's framework had specified concerns about student accommodation and said that smaller retail units should be included rather than the supermarket proposed by Realty.

A spokesman for Manchester City Council confirmed that a strategic regeneration framework for the area had now been approved by the executive.

Realty, Manchester, won the race to buy the site of the BBC's former New Broadcasting House building in a deal understood to be worth £10m in 2011. It was bulldozed shortly after.

Realty, owned by Iranian-born Yousef Tishbi, was initially given 12 months to present plans for the redevelopment of the site to Manchester council.

Realty beat three rivals and was thought to have been the highest bidder.

The 300,000 sq ft building had been occupied by the BBC since 1976 and stood at a key gateway to Manchester city centre.

Realty Estates today said that they now plan to begin work with their architects before submitting formal plans for the development. To date, they have worked with Feilden Clegg Bradley architects on the project.

They also said that they hope to identify partner developers for various aspects of the scheme but warned that it was unlikely that the offices at the heart of the development would be built for some time.

A spokesman said: "Nobody is building offices at the moment. This development will take some time but we are now ready to start work."

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I look forward to seeing the finished scheme….in 2025

By P Powell