Speakers House approved after controversial rejection
Manchester City Council has voted in favour of Aegon’s 17-storey Deansgate office despite concerns about the privacy of residents living in No1 Deansgate.
The £90m development, designed by Sheppard Robson, will provide 135,000 sq ft of office space.
“This decision is the result of hard work and collaboration between the project team, the local community and Manchester City Council,” said Bob Dyson, consultant at CBRE, which advised Aegon throughout.
“We are delighted that members recognised the positive impacts that this scheme will bring to the local economy and the ongoing regeneration of this key gateway area of the city centre. Sheppard Robson has designed a fine building that will meet the identified need for grade A office space and attract occupiers from key growth sectors including digital and tech seeking smaller more flexible floor plates in ‘status’ buildings.”
Following refusal of the scheme in January 2021 – which sparked disappointment among commentators – Aegon opted to resubmit the proposals, rather than appeal.
The scheme was resubmitted with the addition of fritted glass in a bid to allay privacy concerns and planning officers recommended the committee approve the plans.
Planning officer Dave Roscoe said the privacy issues facing residents at No1 Deansgate were “not unusual” and that the planning committee had previously approved other developments in spite of similar concerns.
On the heritage issue, Roscoe said Historic England had assessed the scheme and concluded it would cause “less than substantial harm” to the St Ann’s Conservation Area.
Despite the recommendation for approval, some members of the city council’s planning committee seemed unconvinced that the benefits of the scheme would outweigh the harm.
However, Cllr Paul Andrews and Cllr Angeliki Stogia moved the recommendation for approval, prompting a vote. The planning committee then voted in favour of the scheme by seven votes to four, with one abstention.
This is the second time Cllr Stogia has played an instrumental role in the approval of a controversial city centre scheme in recent months.
Last summer, she sparked a vote to approve the demolition of a pair of listed weavers cottages on Thomas Street to pave the way for Warp & Weft, a residential development.
The approval of Speakers House follows progress on another nearby regeneration scheme, the redevelopment of the former Renaissance Hotel.
The Renaissance project is being led by Property Alliance Group and Starwood Capital and features plans for an office, hotel and 300-home residential tower.