Agenda item

Agenda item

131314/FO/2021 - Speakers House 39 Deansgate Manchester M3 2BA - Deansgate Ward

The report of the Director of Planning, Building Control and Licensing is enclosed.


This application sought the erection of a 17 storey building comprising office use (Use Class E(g)(i)) and flexible ground floor commercial units (Use Classes E(a),

(b), (c) and sui generis ‘drinking establishment’), new electricity substation, basement cycle parking and rooftop plant enclosure, together with access, servicing and associated works following demolition of the existing building.


The planning officer reported that late representations had been submitted from Councillor Johns (Deansgate ward Councillor) that referred to discussions held with the developer. The submission included a breakdown of the impact of the proposed development on the neighbouring residential property (No1 Deansgate), listed buildings and conservation area. The impact of the development on the townscape due to overdevelopment and concerns on the list of assumed benefits to the city to be provided by the development.


The planning officer stated that the responses to the concerns raised had been provided in the planning report.


The planning officer advised the Committee that the developer had provided a viability study of the scheme and alternative schemes for the site which had been independently assessed. The viability study had indicated that the scheme would not be viable in another or reduced form.


The Chair invited an objector to speak on the application. The Committee was advised that the planning application had been resubmitted with no changes. The development was not appropriate for the location due to its height and mass. The objectors were happy to engage with the developer to address concerns, although no agreement had been reached. The impact on the surrounding location, residential area, heritage area and assets are significant and the development would result in the loss of the low/mid roof lines of buildings in St Ann’s Square Conservation Area and would dominate the Royal Exchange clock tower. The building would result in the loss of views of heritage asset buildings. The Council appears to be moving away from its policy on tall buildings in a conservation area. Residents of No1 Deansgate will be impacted negatively with loss of privacy, amenity loss of light and will leave local residents in a less attractive position. 


The applicant’s agent addressed the Committee on the application.


Councillor Johns (ward councillor Deansgate ward) addressed the application. The Committee was advised that the discussion held with the developer was positive but did not address the concerns of residents of No1 Deansgate regarding maintaining privacy. The application submitted appeared to be identical to the previous one apart from the inclusion of fritted glass and the Committee was asked to refuse the application for the reasons that have been presented today and at previous meetings. A clear and compelling case has been presented through the Committees consideration of the application for the reasons that it impacts negatively on the residents adjacent to the development and the important heritage assets and important buildings and features within the area.


The Planning Officer reported that the impacts would not be significant in a city centre context. The separation between the buildings is similar to distances agreed previously by the committee on other tall buildings and are not unusual. An  assessment showed that wind condition would be improve. Historic England has indicated a ‘less than substantial harm’ to the buildings in St Ann’s Square and the level of public benefit appeared to outweigh the level of harm to the area. The building is currently vacant and refurbishment is not viable.


The Chair invited members of the Committee to comment and ask questions.


A member asked if the application is a new application or an amendment of the previous application. The planning officer reported that the application was a new application involving a new consultation process and includes changes based on the Committees previous comments.


A member referred to the loss of privacy for residents of No1 Deansgate and considered that to be significant due to the design and importance of the building which has an open aspect to the proposal. The impact on the local heritage assets would be detrimental to those buildings adjacent and stated they were minded to the refuse the application. The Council did not have a tall building policy and suggested that more detail is needed within the strategic framework for the city centre to help and inform developers on this kind of development.


The planning officer reported that No1 Deansgate is similar to existing buildings in the city centre that are constructed from steel and glass and is therefore not significantly different. The decisions made by the Committee must be considered in the context of current policy, guidance and legislation.

A member of the Committee referred to the potential income from the proposed development and the existing business rates received from the empty building to compare the benefits of a new building.  The statement that the council would receive an level of business rates from the building is incorrect and the public benefit does not outweigh the damage to the heritage assets and conservation area and the application should be refused.


The Planning officer reported that the assessed benefits provided to the public were significant and included the jobs provided, the impact on the economy and the replacement of a derelict building to improve the area.


A member referred to the impact on residential and the investment made by residents in choosing the city centre to make their lives and staying for a number of years. Reference was made to the cost paid for the existing building and how this could influence the economic viability of the proposal. Reference was made to the design of No1 Deansgate and the choice of not including the need for window coverings. The proposal would result in the loss of privacy and would be intrusive due to the close proximity. Some of the city centre residential blocks have an enclosed balcony which are used as a living area, such as No1 Deansgate. No1 Deansgate is unusual in its style and design and the damage caused should be considered in the balance of the building proposed. 


The planning officer stated that No1 Deansgate has an enclosed glass balcony. The planning report provides a viability assessment and the cost of the land value is tested against other comparable sites. This had been validated. The city centre requires more grade A office space. 


A member questioned the validity of the height in this location and whether it complied with current council policy and whether the building should be located within a heritage or conservation area.


The planning officer stated that the proposal had been tested in the context of current policy. The tall buildings policy suggests that tall buildings may be more appropriate outside of a conservation area however, the merits of an application must be considered on the appropriateness of a location. 


A member suggested that more information is required to provide greater clarity on the siting of tall buildings within the city centre and in particular, conservation areas. This would help developers when assessing the viability of a location and related land costs. 


The Director of Planning stated that core strategy was developed using the English Heritage/CABE guidance on tall buildings. The review of the core strategy would need to consider if there is an alternative or more appropriate approach. The current planning application must therefore be considered under the existing guidance.


Councillor Andrews moved the recommendation to approve the application. Councillor Stogia seconded the proposal.




The Committee approved the application including the conditions, as detailed in the report submitted.

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