A scheme that will see a former bank headquarters replaced with a state-of-the-art commercial tower has been approved by Manchester planners.
The go-ahead for the 17-storey block on the city’s Mount Street was granted despite concerns its height would have a “detrimental” impact on nearby historic buildings.
Developer Manchester Mount Street POS (MMS) has always maintained its project would complement the adjacent Grade II-listed Midland Hotel (pictured) and the neighbouring Manchester Central area.
In its planning application MMS said: “From a wider planning and regeneration point of view, redevelopment of the site is a key opportunity, not only in terms of expanding the city’s commercial and business district, but in terms of creating a building that provides an appropriate, conservation influenced, contextual response to this prominent site … This is a site that benefits from the presence of some of Manchester’s most significant heritage assets.”
Overriding protests by several conservation groups, city planners claimed the new building — designed by London architects Eric Parry — would only add a “positive element to Manchester’s Skyline”.
Recommending the scheme, a report by council officials claimed the shortage of Grade A office space in Manchester was dramatically affecting city centre competitiveness. The replacement of the existing 1973-built London Scottish Bank building would be a “critical” part of the authority’s Civic Quarter masterplan aimed at attracting high-end offices to St Peter’s Square.
The report said the development “would strengthen the commercial positioning of the area and help to establish the Civic Quarter as a new business destination and help to drive forward the next phase of growth in the city centre economy.”
When complete, the new Mount Street block will provide more than 175,000 sq ft of office space as well as parking and a staff cycle storage area. It looks likely, however, the council will agree a request to ban betting shops or payday lenders from the ground floor retail units.
Architects Sheppard Robson had previously submitted five different design ideas for a tall tower on the site between 2007 and 2011 before the building was sold by Irish developer Walls Group to its present owner earlier this year. Rivals for the vacant banking offices were Greater Manchester Property Venture Fund and Salmon Harvester Properties.