Manchester City Council Delegated Powers Joanne Roney Nasrin Ali And Basil Curley March 2020
From left: Joanne Roney, Cllr Nasrin Ali, Cllr Basil Curley

Trio take over Manchester planning decisions

Chloé Vaughan and Jessica Middleton-Pugh

The power to decide on major Manchester planning applications has now been delegated to council chief executive Joanne Roney, alongside chair of the planning committee Cllr Basil Curley and deputy chair Cllr Nasrin Ali.

The trio will decide whether to consent or refuse proposals for schemes based on recommendations from the director of planning, Julie Roscoe.

The delegation of power was confirmed at the council’s full meeting on Wednesday. 

A report to the meeting called for authority to be given to the chief executive to enable her to determine any planning application, listed building consent or tree preservation order which would otherwise have been decided by a planning committee.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, local authorities are looking to delegated powers to make decisions rather than holding planning committees, due to space restrictions and Government advice to work from home.

Prior to the pandemic, planning applications were only determined by council officers under delegated powers when no objections had been received. In those cases, planning officers could make decisions on applications without going before a planning committee.

In the past two weeks, major schemes including Manchester Science Partnership’s fourth phase of the £150m Citylabs life science campus on Oxford Road, and Castlebrooke Investments’ £150m overhaul of the CIS Tower were approved under delegated powers.

Further projects which have been decided on include Buzz Ventures’ application to turn the roof of the existing Q Park car park at First Street, into a food venue with eight vendors and two bars on a rotating Hatch-like basis, which was refused.

Reasons for the refusal include that the scheme wouldn’t provide adequate facilities for disabled people and people with mobility issues, and that there would not be safe evacuation measures from the site. 

ROOFF First Street Buzz Ventures March 2020

The proposed CGI envisioned rotating vendors on between three and six month leases

Elsewhere, plans to convert chef Aiden Byrne’s former Restaurant MCR in Tower 12 in Spinningfields into 6,600 sq ft of offices were approved.

Prior to the closure of Restaurant MCR in December last year, the venue previously operated as Manchester House. 

Byrne has since been lined up to open a £2m restaurant at Salboy’s Local Blackfriars residential development in Salford.

Allied London built the 60,000 sq ft 12-storey tower in 2012. OBI Properties is the agent for the offices.

Tower 12 Spinningfields

Tower 12 sits on the edge of Spinningfields

A sushi bar called Mosu was also approved for unit 15 in Barton Arcade off Deansgate, replacing the Circle Club. The developer is Sake Leisure, and the planner is SO Associates.

Your Comments

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I’m not sure 100% delegation is the best route. I’d rather see a greater degree of democracy remain in the process, now that the Coronavirus Act has paved the way for online committee meetings. I’m al for making progress, but we have to continue to make careful decisions – whether they be approvals or refusals.

By Edge

I understand the sentiment but “Careful decisions” and “planning committee” not always phrases I hear in the same sentence!

By Anon

Awful for democracy. I appreciate it needs to be ‘virtual’ but it should still be in front of a full planning committee working remotely.

By Acelius

Good to see it’s business as usual for MCC.

By JimmyL

This is not “awful for democracy”. Applications determined by delegated decision still go through full public consultation with members of the public, local councillors and other statutory and non-statutory consultees. Planning applications have far more opportunity for public engagement than most decision made by local authorities.

This is a welcome move that will provide some level of certainty for the industry.

By SillyGoose

I would like to know about this planning some people were I live don’t seem to know just can do what they like plan I can only say one needs a strong mentality oh they will know who I am

By Teresa

Basil Curley is such an excellent name, I think we should grant him supreme exectutive power over all council functions.

By Lee

Public consultation is not material to the consideration of the local planning authority in reaching a decision on a planning application. Julie Roscoe told me that herself – consultation is effectively a box ticking exercise.

By Tara Parry

@TaraParry, you’re right, the fact that there are objections doesn’t mean PP should be refused (except perhaps in some cases such as redevelopment of community assets), however the ISSUES RAISED may be material e.g. loss of amenity, so statutory consultation is certainly not simply box-ticking – it complements a planning officers assessment of an application.

By Edge