Councillors representing Northern Quarter residents have launched a petition to stop Manchester City Council selling off its land on a site earmarked for a 17-storey tower. The city council’s planning panel approved plans for the 17-storey block of flats by property developer Salboy Limited last week, having rejected the proposals three times previously, for blocks that were shorter than the current proposal.
Salboy Limited is part of billionaire bookie Fred Done’s empire. The developer has previously been involved in controversial housing plans in Salford. At the Blackfriars development Salboy avoided paying of Section 106 money to the council and did not provide any affordable housing; flats at this development were also marketed in Hong Kong.Labour councillors from the city’s Picadilly Ward where the site is located have now set up a petition calling on the council to block the sale of the land, in an attempt to halt the development.
All three Labour councillors for the Picadilly Ward opposed last week’s decision to approve planning permission for the 17-storey development, which lies within the Smithfield Conservation Area.
Ward Councillor Sam Wheeler criticised the town hall’s planning panel and said they had ignored residents’ concerns:
“Is it okay to sell a piece of land against the views of the overwhelming majority of residents in the area, knowing that it will violate the conservation area put in place by the council? I think the answer to that is no.”
“What’s the point of having a conservation area if you’re just going to allow developers to do whatever they want? It makes Manchester look like it doesn’t know what it’s doing and that’s actually the most dangerous thing for long-term sustainable investment: uncertainty.”
Wheeler is hoping the petition will put pressure on Nigel Murphy, the council’s deputy leader who is responsible for its land portfolio, to halt the sale of land on the site opposite Shudehill Interchange.
Wheeler also reported on the inappropriate victory celebrations of the Salboy team on hearing the acceptance of their planning proposal:
“While Fred Done’s team high-fived in the chamber, I led my residents from the room with tears in their eyes. They couldn’t understand how a council, especially a Labour council, could do this. Neither can I.”
During the planning committee meeting last week, Piccadilly ward councillor Adele Douglas voiced concerns about the tower’s impact on the Northern Quarter’s heritage:
“To build what amounts to an eighteen-storey building on this site, where existing buildings rarely top more than seven storeys, amounts to little more than historical vandalism,”
The meeting also heard from local resident Andrew Brook, who said the height of the building was unacceptable:
“The height is and has always been the main issue. This latest proposal is even more audacious than the last, which was rejected…
“Why does the applicant think that’s acceptable when the height was always the main objection? A seventeen-storey glass tower in no way respects the history and the character of the area.”
Featured Image: Manchester City Council Planning Portal