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Save Century House Campaign Grows

After a Confidential article Mancunians call for the building to be saved

Published on June 26th 2013.

Save Century House Campaign Grows

IN MAY we published an article about the proposed demolition of Century House in St Peter's Square. This touched a nerve.

Subsequently various agencies, organisations and residents have come together with a Save Century House campaign. 

This is their press release about their heritage activism. All the words that follow are those of the campaign's.

Mosley Street Ventures and Ian Simpson Architects are proposing to develop the site between St Peter’s Square and Princess Street with a 12 storey office block. Their proposal goes to the Planning Committee this Thursday 27 June. It involves demolishing Century House which was built in the same year as Central Library opposite.

Strong objections have already been made by the Manchester Conservation Areas and Historic Buildings Panel, the Twentieth Century Society, 21 individuals and a group of 50 objectors running the ‘Save Century House’ campaign.

The campaigners have put forward alternative proposals to retain Century House or at least its façade  

Campaigner Ian Christie, said: “Century House isn’t a listed building but the idea that only listed buildings should be kept is ludicrous. Unlisted buildings can still be very good or good. They can have character and townscape value, can define space well or be a significant part of our history. Century House is all of these things. It also has a civic gravitas appropriate to this Civic Quarter. To demolish it when there’s no compelling reason to do so is sheer architectural vandalism." 

The campaigners are not against redeveloping this key city centre site. They’ve put forward alternative proposals to retain Century House or at least its façade and to replace the 3 three nondescript 1960s buildings between it and the listed building at the Princess Street corner with a new building. And if that doesn’t create enough floor space for the developer, this new building could be a podium for a taller building rising behind it. 

Campaigner Ann Webb said: “Century House is a prominent building in St Peter's Square. It was built in the 1930s for the Friends Provident (a Quaker Friendly Society offering life insurance). It’s a fine solid building made of Portland stone. It would be so sad to see it demolished and replaced by the sort of unremarkable building you can see in any one of our cities. Manchester needs this building” 

Campaigner Ali McGowan said: “We’re calling on the Planning Committee to defer making a decision until they’ve made a site visit. We’re also asking  them to ask Council Officers or the developers to drawn up plans and images of our alternative proposals so they can then make a considered decision between two alternative ways of redeveloping the site”.

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

Adam PrinceJune 26th 2013.

It seems so sad compromises cannot be made, that several ward Councillor's are challenging the case - yet we all wonder if the real possibility of protection and preservation will be heard. If it isn't, like many cases before, perhaps the planning system, its powers, it's public communication and it's ethos needs to be questioned in Manchester.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Adam PrinceJune 26th 2013.

(I meant to say the word IF but there seems much pessimism in this). Save Century House & compromise to make something much better!

AnonymousJune 26th 2013.

Surely we can oppose the proposals on the grounds that it's a conservation area? Also, and I may well have missed it, but it would be great if their was link to the petition/campaign.

Manc GuyJune 26th 2013.

Good press release. Demolition has already started on the Odeon/Paramount cinema on Oxford Street BTW.

AnonymousJune 26th 2013.

Great to see that this campaign involves so many local people and key national heritage organisations. I agree with deferring the decision and I hope the planning committee gets off their bums and goes outside the Town Hall to look at the site and get a real idea of the detrimental impact the current insane proposals will have. Makes you wonder though if planning committee councillors and planning officers just nod their heads in deference when they hear those magic words Ian, Simpson and Architects. Btw, nobody on the council seems to have bothered to read their own local guidance policies. Perhaps they thought this would all go through on the nod! Don't understand either why Simpson and his developers can't retain the facade of the building and develop behind it - now that would be truly innovative architectural design, and it's been done to great effect in so many other other cities. And yes, a link to the campaign is a good idea.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 27th 2013.

Those Care Quality Commission inspectors (retired fire & policemen etc) were more qualified to inspect hospitals - than Manchester planning committee councillors are qualified to consider planning applications. The whole system in this country is a complete unqualified farce! Oh and according to the MEN, the council used our money to commission a mysterious report (authors unknown) that completely vindicated their proposals for this site. Now isn't that a surprise??

JoanJune 27th 2013.

I wonder if the 'mysterious report' you refer to could be the planning officers' report which can be downloaded from the council website?

AnonymousJune 28th 2013.

If it is Joan, could you please inform your buddies at the MEN to make that "absolutely clear" to their readers next time then?

Ian ChristieJune 26th 2013.

At the moment the contact for the Campaign is through me! - at ianchristie2@btinternet.com

1 Response: Reply To This...
ErnieJuly 28th 2013.

Ian, Is this decision going to appeal ?

AnonymousJune 27th 2013.

All proves that Manchester's New Labour knights still retain a little bit of socialistic ideals in their bones - they still like their architecture "big & ugly". As ever!

AnonymousJune 27th 2013.

I don't understand why they are so intent on pissing people off? First Jackson's Wharf, now this...

1 Response: Reply To This...
James SmithJune 27th 2013.

Because they are unaccountable, they can do whatever they like and still be in a cushy job until they retire. That is the problem. Councillors are supposed to represent the people of Manchester - but they are so far detached from that it is ridiculous. If one of them got even a whiff that a decision like this might cost them their jobs it would be stopped it in a heartbeat.

Ian ChristieJune 27th 2013.

This afternoon at the Planning Committee meeting City Centre Ward Councillor Joan Davies requested the Commitee to make a site visit before reaching a decision on this planning application. This was put to the vote and the Committee voted 7 to 5 in favour. As a result discussion of the application was deferred to the next meeting on 25 July. The site visit is 90% likely to take place that morning before the Commitee meets.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 27th 2013.

The fact that 5 members of the Planning Committee would vote NOT to make a site visit, says it all really. Manchester, what a joke city!

JoanJune 27th 2013.

It is quite reasonable for individual councillors not to want a site visit to a location which is just behind the Town Hall. There are arguments on both sides.

AnonymousJuly 15th 2013.

It would be useful if Mancon could publicise the views of the new building that the developers do NOT want you to see - views from Princess Street and Mosley Street. What these reveal is a hideously bulky, overbearing, bland and thoroughly inappropriate monolith. Fred Done Properties and Ian Simpson - go away and think again please.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 16th 2013.

Maybe post the links yourself if you think it's important?

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