Salford approves 1,500-home skyscraper cluster with no affordable housing

Councillors in Salford have approved plans for 1,521 homes and 3,975 square metres of commercial space in a cluster of three skyscrapers in the city's Greengate area, despite the proposed development containing no affordable housing.

A CGI of the proposed tower in Salford's Greengate. Image: AQ Invesments
A CGI of the proposed tower in Salford's Greengate. Image: AQ Invesments

Applicant AQ Investments was granted full planning permission yesterday for a 52-storey tower containing up to 559 homes and commercial space, plus outline permission for two further towers of up to 42 storeys and a respective 518 and 44 homes.

Proposed public realm changes would include the creation of a 2,445 square metre public park, a flexible open space for events, and a tree-lined boulevard.

In a report to the planning committee, Salford planning officers advised that the proposed development was in accordance with the council’s 2006 Unitary Development Plan (UDP) and would "positively regenerate the heart of Greengate".

The two-hectare brownfield application site sits within an area covered by the council’s Greengate Regeneration Strategy, which envisions the development of "a dynamic residential and commercial place with exceptional public realm" and was adopted as a supplementary planning document (SPD) in February 2018.

Officers advised that the site is also covered by a UDP policy which foresees development of a "vibrant mixed-use area, with a broad range of uses and activities", adding: "The principle of introducing new high-density housing in this location is clearly supported."

The council’s 2019 planning obligations SPD outlines a minimum 20 per cent affordable housing contribution in high value areas. However, it adds: "Affordable housing will be required for high density apartment schemes in this value area by negotiation."

According to a planning statement submitted in support of the application, the proposed development "is located within a high value residential area" and "will provide significant public benefit through the public realm being delivered". 

A planning obligations statement submitted as part of the application states that public realm improvements costing £8.6 million will be made as part of the development.

It adds: "As this minimum cost is significantly in excess of the contribution required by the current adopted policy … AQ Investments understands that there are no further contributions to be made. A viability assessment has been submitted to demonstrate the viability position."

Recommending approval, Salford planning officers noted that the application site is located close to the 44-storey Anaconda Cut residential development and a further 35-storey housing scheme currently under construction.

Officers said: "There are no in principle objections to the introduction of three tall towers on the site, given that they will be seen against an emerging cluster of other high-rise buildings."

Addressing the commercial elements of the proposed scheme, they added: "The types of units that are proposed are intended to be distinct from those found in Manchester city centre. They will not compete directly with the city centre."

Officers advised there would be an "overall minor adverse impact" on daylight received by neighbouring apartments.

However, they cited a series of benefits including "the redevelopment of a series of inefficiently used plots"; "the provision of new housing in a highly sustainable location"; "works that will open up views of Greengate’s listed buildings for the first time in decades"; "the provision of safe, attractive and memorable new pedestrian/cycle routes"; and "a net gain in biodiversity".

Officers described the first tower as being of "a high design quality" that "will set a precedent to deliver high design quality" in subsequent phases.

They concluded: "Overall it is considered that the proposed Masterplan scheme represents a sustainable form of development that will positively regenerate the heart of Greengate and make a significant contribution towards achieving the council’s strategic vision for the area."

In January, Salford councillors approved plans to build 545 flats in Greengate, in what will be the city's tallest building at 55 storeys high, in a development that also contained no affordable housing.

Earlier that month, the council granted outline planning permission for a 470-home residential development on a site currently designated for employment use after planners advised that the scheme's benefits justified departing from local planning policy.

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