Category: Owen Street Towers


I was excited to see what progress has been made on the Owen Street towers. It’s the largest development in the city at the moment and one of the largest in Europe. When finished there will be four towers on a site that has been cheap industrial units and surface car parks on land between the end of Deansgate and the Mancunian Way. It’s been like this for decades and isn’t a great entrance to the city centre as you drive in from the western and south western suburbs. Here’s what it will look like when it’s finished. We’re looking at the towers from the Castlefield canal basin.  

There will be four towers. The smallest tower will be 122m (37 storeys), the next will be 140m (40 storeys), the third will be 158m (5o storeys), almost as tall as the nearby Hilton Tower. But it is the fourth we are most excited about. It will be 200.5m tall (64 storeys), the first building in Manchester to break through the 200m barrier, just. Being 31.5m taller than the Hilton Tower, it will be the new tallest building in the city and the fifth tallest building in the country. At ground level there will be gardens and a podium building full of all kinds of services (gyms, a cinema etc.) for the occupants of the apartments. They have started the tallest tower and two others it seems. The tallest will reach its full height by late 2018 and the entire scheme will be done and dusted by 2020. Here’s what it all looked like yesterday.

It’s such a big project that they’ve set up their own concrete factory on another piece of spare land so they have a constant supply. The four towers being built now are just the beginning of a considerably larger development for this part of the city. Plans for the rest haven’t been released yet.

I got talking to one of the builders who was doing something with the perimeter fence. They are always interesting to chat to and know stuff about what’s going on. He was obviously proud to be part of this project and did a lot of waving at the fresh air above our heads as he described where the towers were going and how high above us they would be. I was able to tell him about ANOTHER scheme that’s being developed at Trinity Islands about ten minutes walk away. That will be six towers on either side of the inner ring road linked together by sky bridges high above the ground like those buildings you see in Singapore or Dubai. And one of them is planned to be ONE METRE taller than the tallest Owen Street tower. We decided that there was a lot of willy waving going on in Manchester at the moment with architects and developers saying ‘my willy is bigger than yours!’

I think this will be my new project to follow closely over the next few years.

 

I hope the people behind the Great Jackson Street/Owen Street Project come up with a simpler name for this massive project that is about to take off at the end of Deansgate. It’s present name is a bit of a mouthful. I used to think Deansgate, which is the longest, straightest street in the city centre, used to run from Victoria Station to the junction with Whitworth Street near the Hilton Tower. After that the road bends and becomes Chester Road. But I’ve discovered that there’s a little loop of Deansgate that goes behind Deansgate Station into a part of the city centre called Knott Mill. You live and learn.

The company behind it have released some pictures about how it will affect the skyline in the city with one of the towers being 200m tall and the other three being substantial structures. So here they are….

Looking along Deansgate towards the Hilton Tower in the afternoon…

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Same view as above but in the evening…

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View from Castlefield Basin, with canal boats…

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View from the Roman Fort where the city began. I wonder what the Romans would have thought?…

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A view from Hulme…

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Looking along Moseley Street with the Bridgewater Hall…

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Looking along Whitworth Street, Palace Theatre on the right, Palace Hotel on the left…

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I like to follow the development of Manchester. We live in exciting times. Cranes punctuate the skyline from the city centre out to Salford Quays. The city streets are full of builders rubbing shoulders with Armani and Chanel suited business types in the coffee and sandwich shops. Towers are shooting up all over the city and older buildings are being replaced by new (not always keen on that one). Money is being thrown at the city, both domestic and foreign, as the city’s international profile rises and it is seen as the other city in the UK, along with London, to invest in. It’s hard to keep up with it all.

However, this project is one I’m keen to follow. Just south west of the city centre, at the end of Deansgate where the Hilton Tower dominates, there is an area of surface car parks and cheap looking industrial and service units. A series of tin boxes that were put up in the last century when Manchester was going through a bad time economically. They are surrounded by Great Jackson Street and crossed by Owen Street, hence the name. The project doesn’t have a proper name yet. Maybe Chestergate? Chester Road, the old Roman road that linked the Roman legionary cities of Deva (Chester) to Eboracum (York) and went through the Roman fort of Manchester runs along the north of the area. Though what the Romans would have made of what has happened to their little fort in the last 2000 years I can’t think. And it would be a brave Roman to risk his life in his chariot in the rush hour of Chester Road today. This is what the site looks like at the moment.

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What they plan to do with the area is huge. One of the surface car parks is going to be developed into four apartment towers. Nothing new in that in Manchester these days of course, but what marks these out is the sheer size of them. They are designed by Ian Simpson who’s designed the Hilton Tower which is a couple of hundred metres away.

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One of the planned towers isn’t quite as tall as the Hilton Tower. Two are roughly the same size as the Hilton Tower. But the fourth tower is a 200 metre one which will dwarf the nearby Hilton Tower at 169 metres. When finished it will be the tallest building in the city and the fifth tallest in the UK. At the base of the towers there will be all kinds of facilities for the residents; gym, cinema, swimming pool…. And for the rest of us there will be stores and gardens along the banks of the River Medlock. This is what it will look like. They will be finished by 2020.

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Planning permission hasn’t been given yet but the car park has already been closed and the surface scraped up. I think the city will rubber stamp the project. The next stage will be to let the archaeologists in to see what they can find. That’s always interesting. I’m not sure what was here before the tin boxes were built but the Victorians first developed this part of the city so there will be something under there. It may not be grand. But the Roman fort isn’t far from here and that spot where Grandad lived, near the new University campus is, isn’t far away. We went there when the archaeologists were in there. They were interested to meet him as he could tell them about the little houses they had found. Grandad was happy to tell them about it and was amused to be an human archaeological exhibit.

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The company doing the building is Renaker, one that has a reputation for delivering what they promise. At the moment they are finishing of Greengate 1, near the Cathedral, and are working on the Wilburn Street Basin project and the Water Street Tower at the city centre end of Regents Road. I suppose they will shift staff over from those projects to this one as the others finish.

I think this project is so massive, it deserves its own thread on the blog. 

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