PLANNING | Debenhams conversion tipped to progress

The redevelopment of the department store heads a packed Manchester committee meeting next week, with members asked to approve its redevelopment and extension.

Further projects to be considered by January’s committee, which meets virtually next Thursday, include a memorial garden for victims of the Manchester Arena bomb attack; a student accommodation tower at Great Marlborough Street; a large-scale office building at One City Road;  and once again, the Speakers House office block on Deansgate.

Recommended for approval

Speakers House

39 Deansgate

Developer: Kames Property Income Fund, part of Aegon Asset Management

Architect: Sheppard Robson

Planner: CBRE

Project: The plan to replace a 1960s block with a 135,000 sq ft office building with a 17-storey block has been before committee previously, with issues raised including concerns over the St Ann’s Square Conservation Area and impact on residents in No. 1 Deansgate, 43 of whom have combined to fight the development.

Following deferral at November’s committee, December’s verdict was “minded to refuse” with officers asked to provide further information. Officers have set these out in January’s reports pack, poihting out that the issues facing the No. 1 Deansgate residents are not uncommon; outlining further that the scheme as proposed is supported by approved planning policies.

Debenhams, The Rylands Building

Debenhams Rylands Exterior NEW Jeffrey Bell


Developer: AM Alpha

Architect: Jefrey Bell Architects

Planner: Deloitte

Project: The proposal includes 70,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space on the ground floor of the grade two-listed building, including a retail arcade accessed from High Street, and 258,000 sq ft of offices on the upper three floors. Plans also include a four-storey rooftop extension featuring a further 40,000 sq ft of offices, and a winter garden on the sixth floor.

Part of the building would be demolished to create an atrium, providing natural light across the second to seventh floors. The entire building is currently leased by Debenhams, which continues to trade, but floors five to seven are largely unused.

Although Historic England and the 20th Century Society have reported no issues, 26 objections have been filed. The scale of the proposal means that buildings impacted include The Birchin, Lighthouse and various High Street properties.

Officers said: “Putting heritage assets to a viable use leads to investment in their maintenance and supports their long-term conservation,” arguing that this outweighs the harmful aspects.

Stephen Levrant Heritage Architecture is also on the professional team.

One City Road

One City Road Concept

Jon Matthews Architects designed the development

Developer: Marshall CDP

Architect: Jon Matthews Architects

Planner: Deloitte

Project: CDP intends to develop two office buildings, one of 11 storeys and one of 14, along with ground floor retail, in the scheme close to First Street and Deansgate station; offering upward of 370,000 sq ft of office space off City Road and Medlock Street.

Lodged in October, the scheme has aroused 49 objections, many relating to scale and light impact, but officers report that the scheme’s height, scale, massing and appearance are in keeping with the area, continuing the rise in scale of development at First Street.

Glade of Light memorial

Memorial Image 1

Developer: Manchester City Council

Designer: BCA Landscape and Smiling Wolf

Masterplanner: Planit-IE

Project: The permanent memorial is to be located between Manchester Cathedral and Chetham’s School of Music, at the foot of Fennel Street. It will feature a white stone ring “halo” featuring the names of the 22 people who lost their lives set in bronze, with personalised memory capsules held within the stone. The Glade of Light will also feature a planting scheme planned to ensure year-round colour.

The project sits within the masterplan for the Medieval Quarter set out by SimpsonHaugh in 2016.

‘Minded to approve’ recommended

Hulme Street/Great Marlborough Street tower

GMS Hulme Street Tower

Developer: GMS (Parking)

Architect: Glenn Howells Architects

Planner: Deloitte

Project: The £130m plans involve the reduction of the multi-storey car park on Great Marlborough Street, with the space created being used to build a part 55-storey, part 11-storey complex offering 853 student accommodation units. The applicant company is linked to the Student Castle group that developed the nearby 37-storey tower since sold to Liberty Living.

Across three rounds of consultation, two councillors have objected along with the Macintosh Village Management Company, supported by 216 residents, 80 of whom have a parking space within the car park concerned. There have been 134 individual objections, 73 supporting the management company. Manhester Metropolitan University support the plan.

The scheme has been amended since its inital submission in 2018, with access being the main change. In response to dialogue with the Macintosh residents, the applicant looked at creating an entirely new car park, but decided the scheme was unworkable.

Your Comments

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Love all of them! If Speaker’s House doesn’t get through then it will be an absolute disgrace

By Steve

All of these proposals are amazing, bar the student tower, which despite me loving the brick cladding, is far too thin.

By Slice

All brilliant, get them all built. The last thing we should be doing as a city right now is turning down investment in good quality builds.

By Bob

If Speakers House gets refused again, after it has been recommended for approval again, I would ask for an investigation if I was the developer. Something doesn’t feel right about it.

By JohnBoy

There’s no need for more offices in the city. With home working now taking off and working there going to a lot of empty space in the coming years.

By Mike

Interesting point Mike, there’s lots of permutations on how use of offices may play out over the next few years, we will no doubt see WFH very much part of future working, with a few visits to the office. Question I have, lot’s of old offices have been successfully converted into resi. I’m not sure that could ever work with some of the new builds, so just how would they be repurposed without demolition?

By Stuey

Mike – I’m sure you’ve done a detailed demand-and-supply assessment to support that statement. Perhaps you should send it to the developers, who will be interested to see your evidence.

By Anonymous

Some really good stuff here. I quite like the slimness of Hulme St as there’s already quite a lot of chunky stuff going on at First St.

By Anonymous

I’m curious as to how these councillors reach their ‘verdicts’ as all the above should be built with the exception of the last one, the students tower at 55 levels. I’m a big fan of tall buildings but this is in the wrong location and I have reservations over the brick cladding which covers 95% of the exterior surfaces, I’m not a fan. Speakers House looks great, I really don’t understand how this got knocked back.

By Robert Fuller

Nice to see the Debenhams plans progressing. Makes a change to think that maybe work will get going on it relatively soon after their departure and it won’t sit empty, sad and dirty for years on end. Fingers crossed!

By Becky

I agree that there is no need for more offices and I don’t agree that Speakers House is that brilliant. It needs something extraordinary to complement Barton Arcade and mark a gateway into the city centre lying in in such a key position at the end of Deansgate.

By Just Me

Speakers House looks fantastic. A real gem. Can’t believe the cllrs are not begging the developer to build it. Would be a great addition to that part of the city centre which will need the footfall to maintain the retail core. The others should be also be approved.

By Dave

Speakers House is excellent and the rest of the designs are pretty good. The Glade of Light could be a beautiful tranquil piece of open space a fitting memorial to the 22 people who died in the arena bombing my concern is that MMC seem incapable of keeping open spaces clean, free from litter and maintained.

By Lenny68

Some great designs and Speakers house has to be the pick of the bunch so some strange decision making going on with this one. Interesting that at least one of the councillors making the decision live on Deansgate, according to public records.

By Nve

I have lived on Great Marlborough Street for three years and have never received any notice, letters, email, nothing about this building being built, I live directly opposite where the site will be. And I’ll have to listen to building work for another three years. I have only recently started to get peace and quiet after the new Wakefeild St tower being built which was started two months after I moved in and the student Castle development also on great Marlborough St was just being finished as I moved in. There is just no need for yet another taller tower in such a small area of residential apartments where most of the buildings are no higher than 7/8 floors. To top it off, this tower will be as wide as my two-bed apartment – it’ll just look daft. If the wind picks up, it’ll just blow over

By Jason Dunn

The halo memorial is pleasing aesthetically. After the disaster which is the Peterloo memorial, they need to get this right.

By Elephant

Never ceases to amaze me just how much development work continues in Manchester despite the ‘interesting’ times we live in. Power on I say.

By Robert

Wonder if its possible for the developers of Speakers House to offer to fit and maintain one way, or tinted glass in No1 Deansgate to overcome their issues over privacy? Be a real shame to lose such a scheme or watch the whole thing drag on for months or years.

By MrP

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