Also, blossoming buildings and Hotspur House change of use sparks debate

Manchester property with another couple of towers but also some proper houses and a strange plant-clad building. Also is there too much fuss over the demolition of one tiny piece of the 'Piccadilly Wall'? 

Castle Irwell to deliver 500 (non-student) homes

'Developer Salboy and its contracting arm Domis, have started construction of a new 500 home urban village on the edge of Manchester. The £120million development is on a swoop of land bounded by the River Irwell that was once the site of Manchester Racecourse and more latterly the University of Salford student village.’ 

Hurrah, proper homes, about 2.5miles as the crow flies from Manchester Cathedral. The scheme borders Kersal Wetlands, a wonderful open area and for many centrally based people the ‘exercise discovery’ of the bloody awful lockdown. A cracking bike or walking route to the Wetlands from the city centre is through the lovely Peel Park and along the River Irwell footpath.  The hope is that future residents will take advantage of the natural potential of the area which includes neighbouring Kersal Woods and Kersal Moor. 

Literally, this place invites people to get on their bike.

2020 11 06 Property Roundup Castle Irwell 2
This is how Castle Irwell should look

The development will bring ‘157 family homes, offering 2, 3 and 4 bedrooms with prices starting from £199,500. The government’s Help to Buy scheme is available to help people make the step into home ownership and the first homes are scheduled to be complete by next spring.’ There will also be a courtyards and a ‘village green’ with three acres of open space. 

It's apt the developer is Salboy. Fred Done, co-founder of the latter company, worked at the former racecourse on the site, and went on to create Betfred. What were the odds he'd return? One of the old racecourse features, the Turnstile building, has been retained on the site, and the whole scheme looks tasteful and eminently 'liveable'. 

2020 11 06 Property Roundup Kersal
The adjacent magnificent open space of Kersal Wetlands at the start of Lockdown Spring

Hotspur House debate: more student accommodation? 

Stand still long enough in the area between Oxford Road and the First Street development and a tall student accommodation block will form around you. Before you know it you’ll be fifteen stories up arguing about who stole who’s yoghurt or down at the entrance fighting with the Corona-security guards to let you out. 

Now, the interesting if controversial Hodder+Partners’ scheme for the redevelopment at the former Hotspur Press printing premises on Gloucester Street, is about to have a war waged over it. One of the reasons is student accommodation. 

Originally this joint venture (JV) scheme for MCR Property Group and Blue Dog Property was to deliver more than 170 apartments and ground floor commercial units over 28 storeys. The controversial element was the way the tower was inserted within the nineteenth century structure. 

The public realm would have provided a link via a mini-square to HOME arts centre. Lovely. The main picture at the top of this page shows the development and the square. 

But now the JV partners have the jitters. They’re not sure what to do with the site muttering darkly about economic viability and ‘fluctuating market trends’. So they’ve looked into conversion of the project into a hotel or, perhaps, student accommodation. 

However, according to Place North West, the council are resisting the new ideas and want to move forward with the original plans. This is going to be an interesting one if the student accommodation is planned.  

The almost complete takeover of the area by purpose built student accommodation has put a huge strain on relations between owner occupiers and regular tenants in the Mackintosh Village Community on the one side and developers and the council on the other. 

This might get shouty.

2020 11 06 Property Roundup Hotspur 1
Hotspur House dominated by earlier student accommodation towers. A 28 storey tower will rise out of the middle of the building.

New Tower of the Week: yep more student accommodation 

Meanwhile a new £40m, 27 storey tower is proposed for the old garage site at the tight junction between Chester Road and old Deansgate. From one angle there’s more than a degree of similarity between this and Broadway Malyan’s Islington Wharf on Great Ancoats Street. Meanwhile the sharp edge of the building at the aforementioned road junction resembles the new Axis Tower as viewed down the Rochdale Canal. Not that we’re not suggesting Corstophine + Wright Architects are copying anybody.

But what will be the end-use on completion? Ah yes, student accommodation. The good news is there’ll be karaoke rooms as art of the package with this building. Karaoke is what people go to university for. The new tower will act as a stepping stone between 20 storey Castle Wharf to the west, from OMI Architects, and SimpsonHaugh’s mighty Deansgate Square towers, to the east, which top out at 60 storeys.

The most positive aspect of more and more students (given they return in the same numbers in future) being housed in the city centre is that it might relieve the pressure on Fallowfield and allow it to settle down into a 'normal suburb' - where most of the temporary street furniture remains in situ every weekend.

2020 11 06 Property Roundup Fusion

Small wall falls

That tidsy-tiny piece of the much hated Piccadilly Wall, on the Primark side of the ‘Gardens’, is set to fall this…er…Fall. It will be removed in November. No longer will people be able to procure skunk and stolen bicycles from behind its protective shadow. As the council says: ‘These early works are designed to make it easier to see across and move through Piccadilly Gardens, with poor sightlines cited as a contributory factor in antisocial behaviour.’ 

Bigger plans for the rest of the messy area should be in before the end of the year.   

Three points. 

One: The demolition will enable people to see Wolfgang and Heron’s Tree of Remembrance from 2005 dedicated to those who died in the WW2 Manchester Blitz. Two: This really is just tiny a start on Piccadilly Gardens and nothing more. Three: Don’t ride a stolen bike on skunk. 

2020 11 06 Property Roundup Wall
The bit of wall in Piccadilly Gardens to be demolished. The Tree of Life sculpture can be spotted behind the wall. And wow, rarest of all there's an actual policeman.

Best demolition of the week?

Surely this was the University of Manchester students pulling down the grotesque 7ft high security fences that were installed around their Fallowfield halls. Well done them. One student pointed out: "They're huge metal barriers, they're connected to one another and there's literally no gaps. There is fencing around the whole outside, we feel like it's completely unnecessary. It makes it feel like we're in a prison." Vice-Chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell of the University conceded her institution had made a mistake by installing the worst constructions this year, adding: "The fences are being taken down and students are being contacted immediately. Alternative security measures, including additional security patrols are being put in place." 

2020 11 06 Property Roundup Fences
A fine democratic demolition

Camouflaged building for New Bailey development

Make Architects have designed a building right in the city centre where Trinity Way meets Irwell Street, part of the New Bailey development. This building may have a split personality. It may think it’s a tree. The fascinating proposal, seeking planning permission now, is apparently designed to give the nod to other green spaces in the area, only vertically, rather than in the usual horizontal manner of city green spaces. 

The building will have 11,000 sq ft of commercial space inside a 12 storey elevation. The building may also help with carbon absorption and thus improve air quality in the locale. It might. Big box tick that. The development is part of the English Cities Fund (ECF) increasing number of Salford projects (click here for info about their Chapel Street masterplan). ECF are composed of Muse Developments, Legal & General and Homes England.

2020 11 06 Property Roundup New Bailey Building
Sprouting into the sky, the proposed green wall building at New Bailey

Read also - A demolition date has finally been set for (part of) Piccadilly Gardens’ wall

Read more - One North Parade: a tower too far?