Ramsbottoms lead fight against Castlefield tower

Sarah Ramsbottom, managing director of Castlefield Estates, has spoken out against proposals from Renaker Build for 188 apartments on Chester Road, which she said “will dwarf the historic canal basin”.

A planning application was submitted earlier this year by Renaker for two blocks at 2-4 Chester Road, a 40,000 sq ft scrubland plot on the edge of the historic Castlefield Basin in Manchester.

The design by OMI Architects show a 21-storey tower alongside a block of up to 12-storeys, which would sit next to the grade two-listed Congregation Chapel and viaduct.

Ramsbottom said she believes the height and design of the development contravenes the Basin’s conservation area and Urban Heritage Park status. The company has employed independent planning consultants and heritage experts to fight the application.

renaker-castlefield-deansgate-viewRamsbottom said: “On the one hand the City Council is lauding Castlefield as the true historic neighbourhood and tourism treasure it is, and the next it allows second-rate development plans like this to even be considered. I am appalled that it has reached this stage.

“Castlefield is a rare treasure, unique to the city and special enough to be classified a conservation area by the city and proposed as a World Heritage Site.

“We are not opposed to the development of Castlefield, but this scheme is over development and turns its back on the basin.

“Because of the different height levels visitors to the basin would be faced with an impenetrable 5m high wall, punctured only by vents because it hides a car park.

“This scheme has no care or consideration for Castlefield and while we are happy to lead the fight I would urge everyone who cares about Manchester and its historic origins and treasures to voice their opposition.

“Any development here has to protect and enhance the conservation area and this singularly fails in this aim. The bulk and scale of these buildings will dominate the Castlefield Basin and also the grade two-listed Congregational Chapel.  The proposed development will adversely alter the very special character of Castlefield, not just for those who live and work here but for the City as a whole.”

Sarah Ramsbottom’s husband, Elle R Leisure director James Ramsbottom, said that both of the operation’s Dukes 92 and Albert’s Shed restaurants would be objecting, despite the potential benefit from around 600 new residents.

Castlefield Estates was formerly run by James Ramsbottom’s father Jim Ramsbottom, and led on the extensive regeneration of Castlefield in the 1990s.

Ian Christie from residents’ group Castlefield Forum said: “We consider the sheer scale of the proposed buildings makes them overly dominant and intrusive in a highly sensitive and distinctive part of the canal basin. They seem to have been designed with far more regard to Chester Road and the adjacent Town House and Owen Street developments than to the canal basin in which they stand. The boundary of the Conservation Area is not the canal towpath to the west of the site as the developers might prefer, but on Chester Road to the east of the site so as to deliberately include all sites surrounding the basin.

“We are writing to all Forum members to share our views but would welcome the opportunity to work with, not against, developers.”

Your Comments

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YES YES YES YES YES, go Ramsbottoms!

By .

Love it. Couldn’t be in a better place. Get it built.

By Elephant

Rather see it with some materials rather than a plain white model. Don’t treat people like idiots. That said, the height doesn’t offend me.

By ostrich

I like it

By Trump

Hideous design. Looks like it should be in Benidorm!

By David

Too tall and overshadowing for beautiful Castlefield. If it has to be built at least make it attractive and not reminiscent of 1960s council block!

By R.R

5 metre high tiled car park banked right up to the canal path and heavy-mass tiled grey buildings towering over and blocking all light to the basin; what’s not to love.

By name

Sir Richard Leese in his latest blog post believes that cities are about people rather than the buildings or structure they inhabit.

On the basis of that rather trite analysis, there would be no grounds for objection here – or anywhere else for that matter.

By Leese not

Couldn’t agree more with Ramsbottom’s comments here. No objection in principle to development around the basin, but this should be sympathetically done. Renaker – yet again – propose to throw up a second rate building the likes of which are already blighting Manchester’s skyline

By Head in hands

Think it looks amazing! Manchester is booming!

By .

objections sound about right, car park vents onto footpath is bad design

By jimmythefish

Bit rich coming from Castlefield Estates who do not reply to any residents and let the canal side car park become over run at night. Perhaps they should concentrate on this instead of some decent looking, much needed apartments.


Looks like a student tower in the centre of Liverpool / Leeds.

By No development please

NIMBYS…..I think NOT high enough…

By Schwyz

Good on you. This council arrogantly (not too strong a word I think) disregards the considered views of its inhabitants on too many proposed new developments. Someone needs to stand up to them.

By Lynne

Totally inappropriate in size and style. Inconceivable in this location, given the council’s recognition of Castlefield as a uniquestion and historic area. If this development was allowed here the precedent would lead to the inevitable loss of any remaining areas of consistent character as well as destroy the quality of amenity for existing residents due to loss of much loved sunlight in the basin itself.

By Ken Brown

Wow what an eyesore… I’m all for building nice new apartments in the city centre but this will look awful next to that beautiful church and basin. Are we not able to keep ANY of Manchester’s beautiful original buildings sacred these days?!


Utter claptrap, the tallest building in the city is just down the road?! Nimbyism rears its ugly head once again, this time in the shape of the Ramsbottoms and their drivel.

By The Squirrel's Nuts

Its looks cheap and common and you are ruining the one part of the city centre with some historic aesthetic integrity. They’ll all be council slums again post Brexit anyway.

By Sparky Nolan

Beautiful Castlefield? Are you getting confused with Casleton in.Derbyshire What is beautiful about an old canal and cheap looking flats? There would be no opposition to this if it was on Oldham road.

By Elephant

Castlefield is beautiful; Oldham Road is not.

This proposal probably could be more sympathetic in style and material.

By Beholder

It is a ghastly drawing. But Brits have come to expect little better from modernist architects working in conjunction with socialist councils.

By Ronan

Comments critical of the council aren’t passing moderation. What a mystery.

By Ronan

There’s a lot of hyperbole and hysteria when any new, prominent building is proposed. Personally I think this is a decent design and the architects have a good track record. I just think that if you’re going to make a building stand out in this location you need to go for an all-glass design or, if you’re going down the masonry route, choose something sympathetic such as a red-ish reconstituted sandstone colour rather than concrete. Otherwise this is a good proposal.

I don’t know what the previous comment about the council is moaning about – this is a private developer proposing something on private land. The council need to make sure they push for high standards in internal and external design that complements this sensitive location and ensure the developer doesn’t water them down during construction. Thus far, this is just a proposal.

Let’s all just calm down and try to be rational rather than reactionary.

By Beholder

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