Warp And Weft Thomas Strret
The developer had hoped to start work at the site before Christmas

Thomas Street demolition plans shot down

Dan Whelan

Manchester City Council’s planning committee voted unanimously to refuse plans to demolish three grade two-listed buildings that would have unlocked the Northern Quarter site for a residential scheme known as Warp & Weft. 

The former weaver’s cottages were spot-listed in 2018 to block the redevelopment of the site after the developer, Real Estate Investment Partnership, won consent to bring forward a five-storey apartment block containing 20 units in 2017.  

Approval of the demolition would have enabled REIP to progress its proposals, but the refusal has cast doubt over the future of the scheme. 

Despite objections from conservation body Historic England, residents and councillors, council officers had recommended consent be granted for the demolition of the cottages at 42-46 Thomas Street “with a heavy heart”, according to the council’s head of planning, David Roscoe. 

Roscoe said this week that the application had received 40 objections in the 24 hours leading up to the committee, including one from Amsterdam. 

Thomas Street Real Estate Investments

The five-storey block was designed by Jon Matthews Architects

REIP maintains that restoring the listed buildings – rather than demolishing them – would not be viable. 

Roscoe added that advice the council given to the council had suggested that a 20-storey tower would be required for a scheme on the site to achieve viability at the same time as the listed cottages being restored, because of the costs involved. Yet plans for a building of this size were unlikely to be supported, he said. 

Piccadilly Ward councillors Sam Wheeler and Jon-Connor Lyons both opposed the scheme ahead of the committee meeting and said the objection from Historic England was one of the strongest they had seen. 

Wheeler argued that the exceptional level of harm the demolition would cause “was not tolerable” and urged the committee to refuse the scheme. 

The city council originally approved REIP’s proposals, designed by Jon Matthews Architects, in August 2017, saying the project “represents sustainable development and will bring significant social, economic and environmental benefits” to the area.   

A year later, Historic England granted the cottages grade two-listed status following an application from an anonymous individual.  

Then, in February this year, REIP lodged a listed building application for the demolition of the listed terrace – the application that was knocked back yesterday. 

REIP declined to comment. 

Your Comments

Read our comments policy here

An objection from Amsterdam?
So what?
Tell Historic England to come and spend a few days in this derelict, crime infested and blighted part of our old mill town. Wake up, conservationists, we need development not rose tinted glasses!

By RealityCheck

So the 2 options were to go with this development which looks nice to me or leave the site derelict for the foreseeable and unanimously they chose the latter .the buildings are falling apart and are worth preserving why ? Because they are old doesn’t make them better. This is an utter nonsensical decision

By Anonymous

The existing crumbling old buildings can barley support themselves. Any type of refurb will basically be a rebuild. Its an eye sore bringing the northern quarter down. Nothing will be done for years and years now and its going to stay looking a mess for years. what a shame.

By jon

Because what is there now looks amazing and is such an asset, awful decision based on political reasons. People need to wake up and not vote labour in this ward.

By Bob

Wow what a crazy decision.

By Monty

Well done MCC, it’s buildings like these that give the NQ it’s charm, flattening them all and building anything only benefits the money people and turns the place into Telford.

It’s absolute nonsense all that viable waffle, if you can’t afford to do the buildings up you need to sell them. 2 similar buildings were just lovingly restored on Liverpool Road, nobody had to build a 20 storey tower there.

By Thumbs Up

Hopefuly this will stop developers sitting on land, waiting for old buildings to decline just so they have an excuse to knock them down. Perfectly saveable if they had acted on the site earlier.

By NQ Resident

Imagine thinking a derelict building that is crumbling down has charm.

Looks like its going to continue being a haven for the spiceheads around there. No one in their right mind would attempt to salvage these buildings, they are beyond repairable. They will be left to rot for the next 20 years.

By New Wave

Dismayed at a number of comments on here, but it illustrates why Manchester is an increasing visual dogs-dinner. @ThumbsUp is spot-on: this city desperately needs to retain its character, and stop sliding into looking like a Poundshop anywheresville. Stop blindly supporting developers’ whinges about “viability”. It’s bobbins – I know, I was one for several years. You don’t need to build mass block development to regenerate city centres. End of. Just look at most European cities for evidence.

By MancLad

What is there at present is an eyesore – but it’s only an eyesore because it needs some TLC. Listed building protection is there for a reason – ignoring it on the grounds of “viability” sets a dangerous precedent.

I’m genuinely surprised by this decision but pleased to see councillors standing up to the planning department, which seems to have a dark and unhealthy relationship with developers sometimes.

It looks like the developer has paid over the odds for a piece of land and tried to inflate the land value here. Normally in Manchester that’s how things work and MCC drives that agenda. It looks like that hasn’t happened on this occasion, so are we going to see more balanced decision making going forward?

By Mancunian

Decision is utter madness by people who don’t have a clue and are only interested in getting re-elected.

The applications was saving an existing building that now is at risk of being lost. Short sighted and issue been made into a political football.

By Bob

These types of buildings make NQ the place it is. Developers may not like having to refurbish them, but that is what gives the NQ it’s character. If you want crappy modern buildings, go to Spinngfields, or Milton Keynes!

By Anonymous

@manclad but you were happy to make millions out of out of town retail parks and “regen” schemes. Got you a nice pile in Lymm ;)

By Oracle

Shame on MCC. The developer only proceeded because originally MCC approved the scheme on the basis that it was sustainable development. MCC had opportunity to consider all historic considerations at that time. Presumably MCC will now compensate the developer and recognise MCC’s own role in this, you can’t treat local developers like this who have Manchester’s community at heart. Look at the design images, the proposal are great. Shame also on the petty minded objectors. An unfortunate case of Mancunian Myopia!

By Anonymous

They probably started demolition very fast for fear of this happening. The part of it they`ve turned into a bombsite should be restored, along with the rest of the buildings. The same people who want this development will be the same people who in the future are in disbelief about Manchester knocking its history down.

By Anonymous

Not sure where I stand on this one. Are these particular buildings really worth saving? I actually quite like Jon Matthews’ design..

I’m glad people aren’t buying the “commerical viability” tosh though. The market continues to make tons of cash for developers, and difficult sites just mean you need clever design. If REIP are going to cry because it’s not been handed to them on a easy platter, they can let someone else have a go. I’d do it myself if I had the startup cash.

In developers’ defence though – one huge problem here is new-build resi being zero-rated for VAT, while refurb resi work is taxed. This amounts to a government subsidy to demolish old buildings. Gross.

By W

Silly decision on such an important site in the Northern Quarter.
The average person in the NQ has no idea what is going on here and just sees a derelict and dangerous site across from where they have their drinks on a Friday night.
How does this work now? Do those claiming this is a good decision put into a pot to pay for restoration?
Or do we wait for it to fall down?

By Confused

For better or worse the councillors have made the decision to deny the planning application so what are they going to do now? Are the councillors going to stop the antisocial behaviour this derelict building attracts are they going to proactively work on a development/refurbishment solution are they going to insist on safety measures to ensure this building does not fall down into the street? It is easy for members of planning committees to make decisions without taking account of the consequences.

By Anonymous

There doesn’t seem to be anything to salvage. At some point it’s going to be a danger, so after another decade of,,,,,, nothing it will probably have to be demolished. Its a nonsense

By Robert Fuller

Given the dilapidated condition of the buildings I can’t see developers queueing up to restore them…and, if renovated, what purpose would they serve?

By By Jim

COVID-19 is ushering in an entirely new economic era and we cannot assume the development models and demand, as Manchester has known it, will continue. A city’s heritage has permanence that transcends multiple generations and economic eras, and tells the city’s story; the visual local narrative. It adds to a local sense of place, character and culture. Generic cladded towers do not, despite the added GVA they generate for a time. Manchester’s loss of a huge proportion of historic mills and other buildings has to be a concern. Regeneration of heritage assets is possible and has occurred in northern cities in many places. The balance is Manchester has too often been to demolish. COVID is rightly forcing a rethink.

By Anonymous

They have approved some real tripe and greedy developments in Manchester. Declining this does not make any sense

By Anonymous

The NQ is such an ugly area, knock it all down I say

By Dan

Terrible news

By Dan

The Beetham tower already looks more tatty than this building (if you look closeby) and has more falling glass panels, and that was a supposedly state of the art building. Those brown bricks in the picture will look depressing in a few years compared to glorious Victorian brick

By Jabjabjab

Mr Roscoe’s developer-friendly regime has been thwarted again. That’s twice in one week. What’s going on?

By By all means

Unpopular but this is the right decision.

You cannot buy up heritage assets, wait for them to fall down and expect to be awarded planning.

They could easily incorporate the listed buildings into their scheme.

By Observer

Progress progress progress progress that’s what it is.

By Darren born bred

This means a lot to me, I have many cottage weavers in my family tree. My daughter is at uni studying textile design with weaving being her speciality. A good decision from Manchester council.

By Victoria Boardman