Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, has decided not to intervene in plans to construct two towers (one 21 storeys, one 12 storeys) in the Castlefield Basin.
Castlefield Forum had called on the government for a public inquiry after Renaker Build’s proposed 2-4 Chester Road development was approved by the council’s planning commitee in February.
Castlefield Forum chair Carol Middleton said: “We believed we had a strong case for this scheme to be called-in on a number of grounds, so this news is extremely disappointing. We still firmly believe that this development does not preserve or enhance the conservation area and so should not be built in its current form.
“It is completely different in character, height, shape, colour and materials to all other buildings in this part of the canal basin. These light-coloured towers will be a blight on the landscape and future generations will question why they were allowed to be built here.”
The National Trust considers Castlefield to be a special place which is valued by Mancunians and enjoyed by visitors as one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution and has national significance.
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 has been designated a 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.
“It is disgraceful that the city council can allow a scheme such as this to be built in a conservation area,” said Sarah Ramsbottom, managing director of Castlefield Estates.
“It should be a source of deep shame for the council that this development will blight Castlefield for generations and this blight will be inflicted with the blessing of the council and based on Renaker’s previous schemes, it will probably be financed with the city’s money too. We are currently seeking legal advice about any further avenues we can pursue and we will continue to scrutinise the details of this scheme every step of the way.
“Castlefield is the jewel in Manchester city centre’s crown because there are people here who really care and work tirelessly to ensure it is a desirable area in which to work, live and play. It seems some elements of the council do not seem to care about Castlefield, but despite this, together with Castlefield Forum, we will continue to be guardians of Castlefield, including pursuing the feasibility of the development of a neighbourhood plan.”
The National Trust is working with Castlefield Forum and other interested parties to engage with the community and local experts to help them to articulate what is special about the place and how its distinctiveness could be enhanced through future management and decision making.
For more information visit www.ourcastlefield.co.uk or follow @ourcastlefield.