The plans for the site, a former surface vehicle park on Dean Street, include four residential towers between 37 and 64 storeys high, which will home 1,508 unit- to three-bedroom apartments, none of which will be delivered as affordable housing. A fifth building, four storeys high will contain two shops or restaurants, leisure facilities for operate by residents and a private roof garden.

A planning officer’s report (59-leaf / 1.15 MB PDF) on the scheme said a viability appraisal showed that “the financial impact of the provision of affordable housing, combined with other planning obligations would affect the scheme’s viability”.

The report noted that the proposal would deliver other benefits.  It said the scheme represented “a very important opportunity to expand the active core of the town centre towards the south”. The site is located in within the big Jackson Street area, which the Council intends to transform into a high density residential-led neighbourhood, and is specifically allocated for a series of towers with mixed residential and commercial uses.

More than 60% of the site’s area will be public unseal space beneath the plans, including a terraced riverside area alongside the River Medlock. Planning officers said a “landmark high quality development as proposed … would create a critical mass of activity and attract populace to the area”.

The report also said the character and appearance of the Castlefield Conservation Area would be enhanced by the development and it would “fulfil … an important role in providing residential accommodation within [Manchester] town centre”.

Planning expert Mike Pocock of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: “Manchester has demonstrated once again that it has the ambition to promote landmark developments which will shape its town centre for the future. high density, high quality development proposals such as these are likely to be a solution feature of town and town centre regeneration as authorities strive to create fresh communities in their towns and cities to meet the demands of modern living and housing requirements.”

“The fact that no affordable housing is required shows the authorities will also require to be flexible and own regard to government guidance that the delivery of developments should not be constrained by viability issues,” said Pocock.