The plans to convert Bridgewater House, a Grade-II listed former canal office next to Deansgate Square in Great Jackson Street, have been approved.
The red-brick Georgian style canal office, which was built three centuries ago but has stood derelict for decades, consists of two townhouses on Chester Road built before 1787 with an extension on Crown Street dating back to 1842.
Property firm Watch This Space, which has bought the site from Deansgate Square developer Renaker, is now planning to restore the two-storey building.
The £13m project includes building a new four-storey apartment block. The developer, which has recently refurbished another listed building in Princess Street, considered several options for the future of the building – including commercial space and a hotel – but settled on this scheme of 53 apartments.
The plans involve partially demolishing boundary walls to make way for the 33 new build apartments to be constructed where the car park currently stands. According to Watch This Space, these new flats will fund the restoration of the empty listed building and its conversion into 20 one and two-bed apartments.
However, due to the higher costs involved in converting a derelict and listed building, the developer says it cannot offer any affordable housing on the site. According to planning documents, the developer is due to make a 13 pc profit.
A Manchester council report confirms the developer would not contribute to affordable housing elsewhere in the city as part of the plans. But the report also recommends entering a legal agreement which would require the developer to contribute to affordable housing if market conditions improve.
Recommending approval of the application, the report said: “The delivery of new homes is a priority for the council. The proposal would provide 53 homes, develop a brownfield site and would bring a building at risk back into use.
“It would be a high-quality scheme in terms of its appearance, it would comply with the Residential Quality Guidance and would involve significant works to bring the building back into use and to enhance the listed building.”
Planning permission to restore the building for business uses was granted in 2007, but was not implemented despite the lapsed time limit being extended.
The site is now surrounded by skyscrapers – with more set to be built soon – alongside a new city centre primary school on a plot of land at Crown Street.