Civic Voice calls for review of planning permission for a 40-storey tower in heart of Manchester

Call comes on the anniversary of the Civic Amenities Act 1967 coming into law

Civic Voice - the national charity for the civic and conservation movement - is today, on the anniversary of the Civic Amenities Act, drawing national attention to the challenges posed to the protection of national historic assets by the awarding of planning permission for a 40-storey tower in the heart of Manchester’s historic civic centre.

Ian Harvey, Executive Director said; “This approval of this scheme utterly fails to address the issue of the scheme’s negative impact on the surrounding heritage assets, which include both highly graded listed buildings and Conservation Areas. We are concerned at the scheme’s absolute failure to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the Conservation Area. We encourage civic and conservation members across the country to support Steve Speakman, chairman of Manchester Civic Society, in fundraising to make sure all the legal options for a challenge are explored - its all of our opportunity to stand up for Manchester's historic core, conservation areas and listed buildings.

The development site is in a Conservation Area, one of 9 interlocking Areas in the heart of Manchester. It is within 250metres of 72 Listed Buildings, many of the highest rating. Manchester’s internationally-acclaimed Town Hall, its Albert Memorial and St Ann’s Church (all of which are listed Grade I) are among the many buildings whose settings will be significantly affected if this scheme goes ahead.

This proposal was objected to in the strongest terms by many heritage bodies, including The Victorian Society, The Twentieth Century Society, SAVE Britain’s Heritage and the Manchester Civic Society, a member of Civic Voice.
Although Historic England did not support the scheme, Manchester City Council approved it.

Steve Speakman, the chairman of Manchester Civic Society; is seeking to raise £6,000 which will engage one of the best heritage solicitors in the country to look closely at the case and explore whether or not the decision to grant planning permission by the Council was reached lawfully, and if possible to bring a challenge. That could also make the developers re-think their plans.

Please help in raising £6,000 by giving as much as you can, to help to fight back against these damaging and irreversible plans. Even a small donation will swell the numbers who see this proposal as wrong for this site. And please publicise the appeal to your members and any other interested party. The link is below:

Harvey finished by saying; 'In determining planning applications, the local authority must consider how the proposed development within a Conservation Area ‘preserves or enhances’ the character or appearance of the area. If this scheme really does conform to national guidelines, then the protection of historic assets and their settings, supposedly provided by the National Planning Policy Framework and central government, is illusory and will set a poor example for communities across the country. Is it any wonder that over 70% of Civic Voice members do not feel that their Conservation Areas are being afforded the necessary protection".

• Civic Voice is the authoritative voice of the civic movement and represents 75,000 individual members affiliated to 275 civic groups across England. More information at

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T @civic_voice