A Manchester city centre building used as HMRC's base is set to be knocked down to make way for new offices and apartments rising up to 45 storeys tall. Albert Bridge House in Bridge Street would be demolished under the plans for 367 apartments and a 19-storey office block revealed today (September 21).
Built in the 1950s as a tax office, the 18-storey brutalist building is home to HMRC staff who are moving metres away to Salford's New Bailey this year. Developer Oval Real Estate says the soon-to-be empty building has 'come to the end of its logical lifespan', but offers a 'once-in-a-generation opportunity'.
The new 'sustainable' office building would rise up to 19 storeys in a 'radical stepped design' with green terraces and rooftop spaces, according to Oval. A taller hexagonally-designed tower at the southern end of the site would range from 34 to 45 storeys in height and feature 379 build-to-rent flats, with space at the ground floor level for new riverside shops, cafés or restaurants.
However, the developer is yet to confirm whether any affordable housing will be available as part of the scheme with work to calculate costs still ongoing. The developer, which describes itself as a 'national regeneration specialist', is 'committed' to renovating and retrofitting as a starting point, but the layout and design of this building does not meet modern office requirements.
The company also claims retaining the building would restrict the opportunity of opening up the site to the River Irwell and improve connections through it. Deansgate councillor William Jeavons says he is a 'big advocate' of reusing old buildings, but he accepts it may be difficult to adapt this one to modern needs.
He also hopes some of the apartments would be affordable or social housing. However, he is 'very pleased' about the amount of public open space in the plans, including the prospect of opening up a link to Salford along the river.
He said: "We've all been very keen on seeing that opened up as a much more welcoming route between the two cities."
Fellow Labour councillor Marcus Johns, who also represents the ward where the site is located, said he is glad to see pedestrian access improved too. He added: "The council’s framework for the area envisages a vibrant, walkable, and European neighbourhood around Parsonage Gardens with much better public realm, which I supported.
"By opening up the river and showing public realm improvements in the plans, this looks like one step closer. However, we need to keep pressure on the developer and hold them accountable to actually deliver this, alongside holding them to other policies like our commitment to affordable housing."
Manchester council earmarked this site for development within the St Mary’s Parsonage Strategic Regeneration Framework which was endorsed in 2020. The document identified the opportunity for a high density commercial-led development to rejuvenate this overlooked corner of the city centre and mark an important gateway into Manchester, the London-based developer says.
Founding partner James Craig said: "We are delighted to have the opportunity to breathe new life into the Albert Bridge House site, which is bursting with potential due to its gateway location between Deansgate, Spinningfields and Salford. Our developments are always design-led, and we have been clear from the start about the level of ambition needed for such a prestigious site.
"We’re confident these architecturally leading new buildings will add something completely different to the Manchester skyline and create a welcoming and sustainable new destination for the city. As a business, we specialise in bringing overlooked spaces back into the limelight and that is exactly what we aim to do here: our plans look to revitalise the site’s riverfront setting and create exceptional new public realm to be enjoyed by new and existing members of the community.
"As part of this consultation process, we’re excited to share our plans with the Manchester public and are looking forward to hearing their thoughts."
The public consultation, which is open now, will close on Sunday, October 9. Further information about the proposals and how to have your say can be found on the consultation website at www.albertbridgehouse-mcr.com.
As part of the consultation process, information will be presented at a public drop-in event at the Lowry Hotel on Tuesday, September 27 from 3pm to 7pm.
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