Watkin Jones Fallowfield Courtyard Sketch
The flats are intended to provide an alternative to HMOs

Watkin Jones plots Fallowfield student scheme 

Dan Whelan

The developer is readying plans for 440 student beds on the site of the USDAW trade union building on Wilmslow Road in Manchester, a scheme designed by Tim Groom Architects. 

Watkin Jones’ proposal includes demolishing the majority of buildings on the site and constructing a pair of residential blocks. An internal landscaped courtyard, as well as communal facilities such as a cinema room, multimedia or gaming room, lounge areas and meeting rooms, also feature in the plans.

Oakley Villa, the oldest building on the site and part of the trade union’s complex, would be retained and is earmarked to house the development’s communal facilities.

The developer said it hopes the project will free up properties in Manchester’s mainstream residential market, an objective outlined by Manchester City Council last month, and provide an alternative to houses of multiple occupation for students. 

The flats, to be operated by Watkin Jones’ management arm Fresh, are also expected to be cheaper than similar city centre accommodation, the developer said. 

The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, which currently occupies the site and has done for more than 100 years, has decided to relocate due to high maintenance and running costs, an unsuitable building layout and outdated facilities, according to Watkin Jones. 

Iain Smith, group planning director at Watkin Jones, said: “Delivering purpose-built managed student accommodation at this site would mean students can reside in facilities that are best suited to their needs, in turn reducing demand for HMOs, which have accounted for a significant share of the area’s housing stock.” 

A public consultation on the proposals has launched and will run until 27 November after which time a planning application could be submitted.

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