Castlefield Estates and the Castlefield Forum are hoping a public inquiry could stop a local company from constructing two towers in the historic Castlefield Basin – taking it out of the hands of Manchester City Council and calling on secretary of state Sajid Javid to help.
They are arguing that Renaker Build’s plans for light-coloured high rises (one 21 storeys and the other 12 storeys) would be in marked contrast to the famous red brick warehouses and could damage the valuable heritage of the area.
With over 450 objectors to the towers so far, Javid has been asked by Castlefield Estates, one of the area’s original developers, to call in the planning application for the towers.
If he considers it raises issues of national significance, it will be taken out of the hands of the local authority. This would lead to a public inquiry and a possible recommendation to the government to stop it going ahead.
Castlefield is the site of Mamucium, the city’s Roman foundations, as well as a number of sites of Victorian heritage.
It is also home to the UK’s first passenger railway, the world’s first cut canal and arguably the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, and has been designated an Outstanding Conservation Area by the Department of the Environment.
Those involved in conservation efforts, including the Castlefield Forum – a voluntary group with more than 430 members working to improve the area – have been campaigning for months for a lower rise scheme that is more respectful of the heritage area in which it sits.
“Castlefield is where the industrial revolution began and we have the first transport hub where the canals and the railways met,” Forum chair Carol Middleton said. “This is an incredibly historically significant place and the current scheme will change the canal basin forever. We simply can’t let this happen.”
Anyone who believes the planning application should be ‘called in’ should write to the NPCU at firstname.lastname@example.org quoting reference number 113870/FO/2016.