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Petition launched over Origin ‘eyesore’

EXCLUSIVE: But West says scheme will resume next April

Published on September 29th 2010.

Petition launched over Origin ‘eyesore’

A local councillor has started a petition demanding action at West Properties’ Origin site on Princess Street in Manchester.

City centre councillor Ken Dobson has branded the site an ‘eyesore’ and argues that is has become detrimental to people who live immediately near the site – many of whom opposed the scheme in the first place.

“It’s just stopped,” he said. “I know the money has dried up in that sector and I have some sympathy with West but it is a big blot on the landscape. We want something done.

“We’ve managed to get the hoardings moved back to allow better access to the pavements and for parking, but people living nearby are getting fed up.”

West Properties had planned for a 210-bedroom W Hotel operated by Starwood, to anchor the Ian Simpson-designed site, which would also feature 180 apartments and 62,000 sq ft of office space.

Dobson said he had ‘a couple of hundred’ signatures on the petition, which he started distributing last week. “I’ve also been out to some of the apartment blocks around the development. I think people would prefer to see anything there instead of a building site, even though they weren’t keen on the original plans.

“I’d like to see some greenery there, perhaps a park. If (West) can’t afford to take the site on, perhaps it would be a good idea to sell it to someone who can.”

Colin Roy, director at West Properties, claimed the scheme would restart in April, however, once a new funding package had been finalised.

“We’ve not been approached with these concerns and those that have been raised, we’ve dealt with,” he said. “We’ve kept the site clean and given back the lane of the road we were using on Whitworth Street.

“We are looking to have funding secured and be back on site by April. The scheme hasn’t changed in terms of design or shape. We’re currently debating whether we’ll phase it or deliver it all in one go.”

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22 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

James11364September 29th 2010.

I have just sent a 'thank you' letter to Highways for removing the barrier at my request on behalf of residents and also restoring the parking (we and the commercial interests have re-gained at least ten spaces for evening parking.)

Unfortunately 'give us six months' is exactly what West's Colin Roy told the residents last time we asked earlier this year and the Irish economy is in real melt down

Residents are advised by their 'experts' that bringing the site into some sort of use is likely to be financially unsustainable in the short term and we are exploring more 'decorative' solution to make it more presentable.

The hotel no longer appears as a development on 'W' hotels list of developments. We are tempted to suggest to them that the site of the MMU's Aytoun Campus as a very good site as an alternative.

GMSSeptember 29th 2010.

"City centre councillor Ken Dobson has branded the site an ‘eyesore´"

No more than the surface car park that was there before it, surely Concillor?

West must have already spent a consderable amount on the underground levels and foundations so their intentions are clear.

Yes it's far from ideal, but give them some slack I say. The finished product will be a massive improvement to the area.

AnonymousSeptember 29th 2010.

Times are hard for developers, be fair to West. Seems Dobson hasn't even talked to them. If this site ends up with a Starwood W hotel, it will greatly improve the area and boost the value of property. Stop whining.

Jonathan SchofieldSeptember 29th 2010.

I like it. It's a bold solution - at least it isn't in small red bricks with battle ship grey balconies.

EARL OF DIDSBURYSeptember 29th 2010.

I think it looks good , dramatic in fact , liven up that part of princess/whitworth st , you can't expect people to have a park there it doesn't make any money!

GMSSeptember 29th 2010.

RE: EofD: There is already Sackville Park too just up the road. Whilst it is almost universally agreed that Manchester City Centre could do with more greenery, this is not the spot.

Let's just hope for all concerned this sees that light of day sooner rather than later (never), as I believe these could be iconic buildings for our city.

Smyth HarperSeptember 29th 2010.

Does mancon have any more pics of the proposed development? From the one on the story it looks a lot better than the massive monstrosity that was originally planned and with a bit of luck it'll give a bit of a boost to the village... Although the hoardings on princess/canal/whitwoth sts are horrible - very unappealing marketing - they all look miserable!

Burt CodeineSeptember 30th 2010.

Thank god for the above comments. Really not sure what people wanted in it's space - a Victorian Warehouse pastiche? An allotment? This is supposedly a progressive city...

Eddy RheadSeptember 30th 2010.

This site is owned by a private developer and if no one had noticed we are in the middle of a recession that is likely to get worse. This site was a surface car park for decades. Why do people feel they have a right to dictate what happens to this site? It has got to be one of the tidiest building sites i have ever seen and seems well secure. I think people should look a little closer at their own neighbourhoods and complain about things that matter instead of moaning about, quite literally, nothing.

AnonymousSeptember 30th 2010.

People here still want to fight about the planning but that is so 2003 (and actually even before. I wrote a first 'pre planning statement in the early months of that year.) West have permission to develop but have run out of money. They also have permission for Owens Car Park and the Ramada Hotel Site and the big site on Rochdale Road. The major tower is actually a self plagiarism of another design for Chester Road! The previous statement from West was to develop the office retail development first... and that is implied in their new statement.But they didn't do it. So we may get the park at least temporally!

The condition of the site means it is expensive to cap it and restore the car park or to use the car park West have built,but it is in an entertainment area and I would expect the VBA to welcome that if it was possible.

Councillors and residents talk to senior council staff and though them to West as well as directly. The recent changes to the Whitworth Street have been brought about by these discussions and with west and with Highways.

We have some more pictures and you can find me on Skyscraper (search for Origin)

The site is in a favoured conservation are in the City Centre which is not attracting tourist. Maybe a new Man Con Tour as I haven't enough time to show everybody round.

Peter GreenOctober 9th 2010.

"No more than the surface car park that was there before it"
It's really the hoardings that stick out, bright adverts that are as tall as the hoardings (which are taller than me) right in your face (especially before we got the pavement back but even now there is something imposing about them and hot in a good way) featuring swimsuit clad models and pushing them as rich young people who will dominate you (notice the "and hearbreaker" in the slogan).

Carparks aren't exactly the prettiest thing around but their drabness and the fact they are typically set at least some way back from the pavement means they blend into the cityscape and are barely noticed.

dOctober 10th 2010.

And plugwash, yi know, they're useful.

AnonymousOctober 29th 2010.

Let's not forget that West lied on their planning applications, managed to get listed building status removed on the remaining walls and then demolished them. Frankly the car park was better than the hoardings and cranes that we have been stuck with, and anything is better that the Godawful Will Allsop design.

Nice to see Ken Dobson sticking his oar in: pity he didn't do more to represent the views of his constituents when the plans went before the planning committee.

JohnthebriefOctober 11th 2012.

Two years on ... do they still need another 6 months?

There must be some way for the council to take control of the site and remove this horrible eyesore - West have just abandoned it.

AnonymousAugust 13th 2014.

What is the latest on this, another 2 years on?!

AnonymousSeptember 16th 2014.

Rumours are Origin site Whitworth Street has been brought or is to be brought by same developer under a different name. Seek to find out if this is true but might be heads up. The residents were asked mid 2000s what they wanted from design (see here) and of-course were ignored. How do we ensure more participation and a friendlier model for this area? Or will we get more Simpson forced on us that overshadows Canal Street? See original designs with Council before overturned and of-course ideas ignored. www.mediafire.com/…/Post_Workshop_Themes_Pack.pdf…

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 17th 2014.

Brought? Brought where?

Trish KarneySeptember 17th 2014.

Scruffy surface car parks are my own personal bête noire, but this corner would be perfect for a mixed use development. However, it would cut off any sun and light to most of Canal Street, which quite frankly, would be ghastly and intolerable. Also, it would be unaffordable to many of the users of the village, and it would have been a fabulous opportunity to include some badly needed social housing for the gay community. Not holding my breath on MCC doing anything about it though, given their slow movements on London Road Fire Station.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 17th 2014.

It's private land in private hands - why should MCC intervene? They are dealing with a developer that went bust and don't have the funds to go round buying up land... Your statement about blocking light to most of Canal Street is incorrect. It might block light at one small end of the street; there's already a bloody big warehouse blocking light sat next to it... Finally, as a gay, I am not sure I like your idea of social housing for gays in a gay area... it feels far too like social engineering and in any case you can't build just for gays... pretty sure that would be totally illegal. And how would you prove you were gay. What a silly idea.

RobbsySeptember 17th 2014.

isn't there an underground car park below that site which could be reinstated? its a real eyesore now, though I am not sure how the council could have provided "social housing for the gay community" - surely their needs are no more important than anyone else's? I think the legalities would preclude such targeted favouritism... I suspect the council will CPO it and re-sell to another developer to raise funds - probably the best solution (sorry Canal St but the needs of the many etc)

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 17th 2014.

I agree with all your points mate.

AnonymousSeptember 17th 2014.

how could the council make money from a CPO and resale - CPO = fair value not a licence to rob people of their property for less than its worth.

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