Urban & Civic reassures over Whitworth Street project

The developer behind a delayed mixed-use scheme in Manchester city centre has said that construction will begin in the autumn, once a deal is agreed with its preferred contractor.

Urban & Civic’s scheme on the corner of Whitworth Street and Princess Street was granted planning permission in January, for 240 flats and a hotel designed by SimpsonHaugh.

Construction was due to begin in spring this year, but there has been no activity on site as yet.

Princess Street Urban and CivicHowever, Philip Leech, property director at Urban & Civic, confirmed to Place North West that the scheme would be under construction in autumn. He said that the programme had slipped due to design development, and negotiations over build costs. A contractor has been chosen and is due to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Leech said that the project would be built according to the designs approved by the council.

The proposals were brought forward following the sale of the one-acre former Origin site to Urban & Civic in 2014, part of a portfolio previously owned by developer Donal Mulryan’s company West Properties.

The two residential buildings will be 12-storeys and 15-storeys high. The hotel will include ground floor commercial uses, a restaurant and café, and public realm.

The development manager for the scheme, Andy Lavin, recently left Urban & Civic for Property Alliance Group. However according to Leech, the developer is recruiting more staff in Manchester.

Urban & Civic is also on the shortlist for the £500m Mayfield regeneration project near to Manchester’s Piccadilly station, alongside U+I, and a consortium made up of Ask Real Estate, Carillion and Patrizia. An announcement on the preferred developer is due to be made in September.


Whitworth Street Urban and Civic

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Something needs to happen here for sure.

I hope it is something with the same longevity as the surrounding buildings though.

By T

Get something built of quality on this all too long vacant site?

By Schwyz

Please make this into a park. it is pretty obvious that this is not going to ever be built. This plot of land needs to be reclaimed for people. The design proposed for it is another boring uninspiring office anyway. A park would take months to set out and it would complement the one on Sackville street.

By Elephant

A park here would be wonderful, would really add to the area and make the city centre far more credible as a desirable place to live. But this is Britain; Grimchester no less and it won’t happen.

Simpson steel and glass soulless box anyone? Yes please pal.

By zebith

15 stories high! Well that is Canal Street being put in total darkness. Not to mention once it is built residents in the apartments and hotel will start to complain about the noise from the bars that first brought life to this once no-go area of Manchester. Give it five more year and they will probably end up closing due to the heavy handed restrictions put on them by the Council due to the whinging from these over-priced, uninspiring apartments and businesses. Manchester Council you are weak in your vision. You are meant to represent all of the people of Manchester. Give yourselves a slap….and not on the back.


Building a park would be nice but it would be too costly to remove the existing underground car park they have built. I hope they go ahead with this rather than leave the current vacant building site, it will help with regenerating the area.

By O

Can’t the car park be kept, but with a park on top of it instead of offices? Might appease the money men (slightly) while providing some much-needed open space.

Although, according to some, if it includes car parking then it can’t be a prime site. So maybe just whack a hideous box on the thing instead.

By zebith

Some people don’t seem to live in the real world. Who on earth is going to spend the many millions of pounds it would take to buy this plot from private ownership? How on earth can that sort of public investment be justified? Utterly naive.

By Comment

Well Comment, the city council had millions to invest in blocking up a walkway, against the public’s wishes. It seems strange that they couldn’t afford to spend a similar amount purchasing land to create a park, when clearly there is strong support for the idea.

By Library Walk

I’m not sure why boxes are so hideous, or why steel and glass looks so terrible.

There is a park just one block away, just use that.

If yo don’t like buildings, then go and live in the woods, you moaning b*st*rds.

By Adam

The real world? There are parks “in the real world” outside of Manchester. The city has aspirations to be a cosmopolitan international city, but with this kind of “throw it up” mindset, the cityscape is pathetic. Opportunities to address this are consistently passed by, and this will probably be another one.

Lack of vision.

By zebith

Ah that old chestnut again! I forget how many times over that money has been spent by people with an axe to grind or with some completely unrealistic fantasy for how their corner of the city should be.

Let get real and stop wasting pixels. This is a privately owned, hugely valuable development plot with proposals for a high quality new development in prospect, one which is considerably better than the previous one. The sooner this is built the better. Let’s focus on improving green space where it can feasibly be provided rather than where it can not.

By Comment

If you think this project is offices or glass and steel then I advise you to read the story. There is also no risk of Canal Street being ‘plunged into darkness’ (after 12pm) as these buildings are in the wrong position to do that. While I agree that the city centre probably needs more parks, this isn’t the place for one with Sackville Gardens and Vimto Park being very close. In any case I doubt anyone will be willing to fork out £20 million to buy the site.

By New Kind

This plot has been like this for ages. It is an eyesore and is perfect for a park. Sackville Gardens is a small garden, which becomes packed with people very quickly. Do we really want another glass box on this site with a Starbucks and a Spar underneath? If not a park, why not a market? Why can’t we have somewhere for people to interact in Manchester, rather than another soulless box?

By Elephant

New kind. Do you really think that, that awful backyard of UMIST is a park? Some people on here won’t be happy on this site, until Manchester looks like Thamesmead. At least that had a lake.

By Elephant

Funny Thamesmeade should be mentioned – New Islington reminds me a lot of there.

The glass boxes aren’t bad in moderation, but the city needs more than masses and masses of the same. Manchester really suffers from a lack of open space, and its got to the point where there are very few undeveloped sites where one could be provided.

The popularity of Sackville Street gardens demonstrates that one here would be well-used, while the dearth of people found at “Vimto Park”/UMIST indicates that one is too far out of the way to truely serve the city-centre at large (i.e. it is just a bit of grass occasionally used by students).

The city centre already feels incredibly hemmed in and is increasingly an unpleasant place to be. Canal Street is among the most European-feeling parts of the centre and would be a great location for a new park.

By zebith

Zebith you are indeed right. Don’t see the connection between Thamesmead and New Islington. Although to be fair I do not know Thamesmead that well, having only seen iit on numerous films. I don’t recall a lot of old industrial architecture, but I may be wrong.The park situation could be remedied if they bulldozed that hideous trading park on Great Ancoats street and extended the Cottonfields to the main road. This would make a biggish park within walking distance of the centre. Angel Meadows is quaint, but surrounded by dereliction. It is almost like the council don’t want to provide us with a park. They are unable to provide an open space unless it is attached to a glass box. Manchester city centre is too small for a huge park, as it would look ridiculous, but a few small ones dotted here and there would really brighten everywhere up.

By Elephant

Elephant, I agree park or market would be great. The site was on the market a couple of years ago, presume you put a bid in at the time did you? Sure you’d have had lots of support if you’d have been able to raise the £20m or so and gift it to the people of Manchester. We need more philanthropists like you.

By Carzi

Although Manchester is the largest city centre in the North by world standards it is tiny. For the size of it there are enough parks and many large parks a short distance away. Larger cities have vast areas larger than our city centre with no parks where people live a good quality of life. As for Manchester being hemmed in and too dense, that’s untrue, people need to travel more.

By Anon

Re. Thamesmead, I’m thinking more of around Chips, HoUSe and the Marina; aside from Vulcan Mill, most of the nearby industrial stuff is in the Ancoats conservation area. Mix of the bold modernism and water I guess… mixed with a sense of violence and danger from the adjacent Miles Platting droogs high on moloko.

Carzi – what’s your point? That people aren’t allowed to desire a public park for the people of Manchester without having the cash to fund it for themselves? More parks would indeed have an economic value, in making the city more desirable, but this is difficult to objectively quantify. Its erroneous to dismiss it as wishful folly.

By zebith

Manchester is roughly the size of Frankfurt; Greater Manchester is roughly the size of Greater Frankfurt, so its hardly “tiny” by “world standards”. Compare the public space, density, and quality urban environment in the two cities and you’ll why Manchester’s claim to be an attractive cosmopolitan city is pathetic and needs seriously addressing.

By chip

Demolish everything, build a park, blaa blaa. If only life were like a game of SimCity.

Back in the real world, and hoping for some more professional input here, where would be the most likely, realistic and deliverable area for a new city centre park?

By Comment

Best location for a park? Would probably want an undeveloped site so that no demolition is required, somewhere near existing leisure uses, and one that strikes a balance of attracting some through-movements but not a major thoroughfare (e.g. a la Pic Gardens) without also being too far out the way (a la Angel Meadows).

If only there were such a site…

By chip

Manchester is not ‘tiny’ by international standards, its about the same size as Lille – which has a tram and an underground. It’s just that its seems cities on the continent are planned for living in, not for extracting revenue from as seems to be the case in the UK. It certainly seems like that as far as Manchester is confirmed. It will be the Birmingham of the future, something to be poured over in 30-40 years time by students as to how not to plan a city.

By Loganberry

Anyone who wants more parks or markets in the city centre. Instead of wasting time online complaining about it, why don’t you raise the money yourself and buy a site. Then you can do whatever you wish with it.
The council are skint and can barely afford to maintain the parks they have now so aren’t going to spend £20 million buying prime city centre land to build something which only costs money?
I’m all for people wanting the best for the city but please actually look at the proposal (how anyone can describe this scheme as a glass box is beyond me) and have some realistic suggestions.

By New Kind

Comment – your statement is completey contradictory as you just want your simcity full off buildings.

By Name

Approximately 30,000 people have invested in Manchester City Centre in the last 20 years by buying their homes here.

Manchester City Council has not returned any of that investment in that time.

If the city was being filled with offices, the usual bit of public realm would cut it. However it is not, this is where 30,000 people live and people need immediate access to green social space at all times.

By Name

And I note today that there is an article in the press showing a link between the lack of green space in cities and mental health problems. Seeing as Greater Manchester now has control over its own health care budget perhaps we could see some forward thinking to help deal with some of the causes of health problems thereby saving money in the long term. Yeah, like they’re capable of that.

By Loganberry

Chip. I have a suggestion. Bulldoze Piccadilly plaza, that brick monstrosity on Piccadilly gardens, nuke that bus station and extend Piccadilly gardens to New York street. Put the tram in a tunnel. Then put railings around the whole thing.

By Elephant

Carzi. That site has been like that for ages. What do you prefer? A park or what is there now and what is likely to be there for some time? There is nobody working on it .

By Elephant

Loganberry has obviously never been to New York, but joking apart that is an excellent point. Mental Health issues and environment are closely linked.

By Elephant

Loganberry – excellent point. There seems to be a terrible mindset in the UK at the moment which sees cities as purely economic units, not as places where people live. I would agree that this is particularly prevalent in Manchester, and it won’t have good long-term results.

All this talk of privately raising the funds to buy the land as a park is nonesense; that is why local authorities were established. Their present lack of funding from central government is another matter altogether. My point is that such spending isn’t waste – viewed in the long-term, it brings wide-ranging benefits to the city, including economic ones (as well as the mental health benefits mentioned by others).

Lets have some aspiration people.

By chip

Zebith and Elephant, if the council had spent £20m buying the site no doubt you’d have been the first to complain. Get positive about things and go and make something brilliant happen yourselves somewhere, better to create something great than simply to complain about others not doing so. Think big and then do it!

By Carzi

In the words of Dolly Parton. The architects and designers in this city, need to pour themselves a cup of ambition.

By Elephant

Carzi – what evidence do you have to say that I or anyone else would complain if there were a park provided here? Just because a lot of the development happening in central Manchester is sh*t doesn’t mean we should all grin and bear it. The city has great potential, but its being squandered by a feeding frenzy of short-term opportunism.

New Islington is a good example of a bit of vision – the Marina is a long-term asset which will benefit the whole area for a very long time. As I’ve just commented in another article, that area still has issues, but the public realm provision there has given it a very good foundation to develop from.

We shouldn’t get complacent about central sites continuing to be desirable just because they are central. It is worth the investment to provide public space where this is achievable. There aren’t many places in the city centre that this can be done, but this among the better options.

By zebith

This is a great luxury developments, and most develpoments in Manchester now are of a high quality. Unlike in Liverpool and Leeds.

By More like this please.

Zebith, that’s the spirit. When you’re positive it makes me and lots of other readers positive too. And then I agree with stuff you say and it gains a groundswell of support.

By Carzi

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