The developer said it has “no option” but to lodge an appeal against Manchester City Council’s decision to refuse the demolition of grade two-listed buildings on Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter.
Real Estate Investment Partnerships wants to demolish the two former weavers cottages at 42-46 Thomas Street to pave the way for a five-storey block containing 20 apartments designed by Jon Matthews Architects.
The council approved the development in 2017, but, a year later, conservation body Historic England granted the cottages listed status following a request from an anonymous party.
As a result, REIP submitted a listed building application in February to demolish the buildings, so that it could bring forward the scheme known as Warp & Weft.
This application has twice been refused by the council’s planning committee, most recently at a meeting last week.
Steve Slater, chief executive of Real Estate Investment Partnerships, said: “We are faced with no other course of action than to appeal the decision made by the planning and highways committee to refuse our application to demolish 42-46 Turner Street.”
The developer will now mount the case for an appeal to be submitted to housing secretary Robert Jenrick.
Manchester City Council planning officers twice recommended that the demolition be approved, supporting the developer’s claims that retaining the listed buildings would make the scheme unviable.
Planning officer Dave Roscoe had noted that the council was advised that if the buildings were restored rather than demolished, a 20-storey tower would be required for the project to achieve financial viability. Yet plans for a building of this size were unlikely to be supported, he added.
Piccadilly ward councillor Sam Wheeler, who has been an outspoken critic of REIP’s plans to demolish the buildings, said: “The developers have the right to appeal, but a Conservative Secretary of State ordering the demolition of Manchester’s working class heritage would be quite an incendiary move and obviously have a reputational effect.
“REIP has a responsibility, both moral and legal, to look after the heritage assets they freely purchased.”
Wheeler speculated that, should the developer choose to sell the site, it would not make a loss. “The five-year land value increase in [the M4 postcode] is around 19%, so it’s hard to see how REIP could lose money should they simply choose to sell the site, unless it was greatly overvalued in the first place.
“This is a prime location in the centre of a growing city. If the current owners doesn’t want to develop it, someone will,” Wheeler said.
REIP has six months to lodge a formal appeal against the decision.