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The Twisted Wheel Must Die

Famous Northern Soul venue to make way for hotel

Published on July 30th 2012.

The Twisted Wheel Must Die

PLANS for a new hotel designed by Stephen Hodder for German chain Motel One in Manchester's Piccadilly area were approved by the city council's planning committee last week.

The planning committee deferred its decision by one month while negotiations were held with the nightclub operators over possibly saving the basement club space, although this plan was deemed unfeasible by planning officers and the developers.

Hodder + Partners won a design contest at the end of last year to design the 330-room hotel facing Piccadilly station on the corner of London Road and Whitworth Street.

The developer is London-based Olympian Group, which acquired the site out of administration from a subsidiary of Targetfollow.

Motel One: the vision. Twisted or not.Motel One: twisted or not?The construction tender brief has been issued immediately and a contractor is expected to be appointed in the autumn ready to start construction in the first quarter of 2013. The hotel, in blocks of eight and 13 storeys, is scheduled to take around 18 months to complete.

Leases with current tenants including Hotel International and nightclub operators Legends are due expire at the end of this year.

One of the buildings set for demolition housed the Twisted Wheel club famed as a key venue in the development of Northern Soul. The plans for the new hotel have divided local opinion and angered certain music fans as evidenced by our exclusive story back in February - click here.

Motel OneMotel OneThe planning committee deferred its decision by one month while negotiations were held with the nightclub operators over possibly saving the basement club space, although this plan was deemed unfeasible by planning officers and the developers.

The nightclub bosses will be allowed to take fittings from the venue and are believed to be planning a new venture elsewhere.

Much of this article first appeared on our sister commercial property website Place North West.

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

Thomas HammondJuly 30th 2012.

Despite the fact that they are destroying a good club venue, they are completely destroying some beautiful buildings that are in keeping with the area to make what looks like another dull box. Do the planning committee ever visit the sight to see how beautiful the buildings they plan to distroy are? They could have still built the main part of the building on the open land at the back and kept the original buildings at the front. Similar to Radison Edwardian and the plans for further down that street.

6 Responses: Reply To This...
DavidJuly 30th 2012.

Beautiful they are not.These buildings are absolute mingers.
The Radison Edwardian incorporated The Free Trade Hall frontage,which was much better than these buildings ever were.

AnonymousJuly 30th 2012.

Yes they are beautiful. In my opinion. The city's character, its culture and history is told through buildings both grand and humble. These attractive, if care worn buildings contribute greatly to the character of that part of the city. And as some of the very few 19th century warehouses and mill buildings left in that part of the city, they really ought to have been preserved.

DavidJuly 30th 2012.

Venice is beautiful,Miss World is beautiful,these are not.

AnonymousJuly 31st 2012.

Venice can be considered sterile and Miss World vacuous and grotesque. The lesson? Beauty is subjective and more than skin deep.

DavidAugust 1st 2012.

Beauty is not subjective,if all your mates tell you that your girlfriend is ugly,then she is.

AnonymousAugust 1st 2012.

Oh dear David! Things are getting bad when people are starting to recognise your postings across different websites and dismiss your contributions as that of an obsessive troll (see below).

How dispiriting that must be for you - all that time and effort down the drain!

AnonymousJuly 30th 2012.

A disappointing decision, but hardly surprising.

AndrewJuly 30th 2012.

Absolutely gutted about this decision - the new hotel looks exactly like every other 'stunning' 'luxury' new building in the city.

The homogenizing of Manchester continues thanks to the council...

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 30th 2012.

Urbis, Civil Justice Centre, People's History Museum, Number One Deansgate, Free Trade Hall, Bridgewater Hall, the new Co-Op building. The list goes on. Even the bloody Beetham Tower and the likes of Leftbank have their own, distinctive, charms... But every building can't be the Guggenheim (although the new 42nd Street building certainly gives it a good go).

It's really easy to criticise, Andrew, but the above buildings are just a handful of some of the distinctive architecture we have in Manchester. When it comes down to it this building was not listed, nor could a listing be justified, and had planning permission been denied it's highly likely it would have been overturned on appeal as there is no real legal basis to deny planning consent.

Calum McGJuly 30th 2012.

It's a completely dull, uninspiring design. Complete loss of some lovely old stuff, especially the taller ones. Real pity some of it could not have been kept, as was also the case with the Premier Inn on Portland Street/Oxford Street.

Kat ParneyJuly 30th 2012.

Do we need another identikit building in such a historic part of Manchester?

Do we have to bulldoze every brothel and gay club until this city's soul is sucked out?

The developments at this end of Whiworth Street are already terrible - badly thought out flats, mixed use buildings half empty - and Brittannia Hotels allowing the fine old fire station to creep into further disrepair.

These councillors should be more accountable to what their public want

AnonymousJuly 30th 2012.

This particular little corner of manchester has always seemed run down to me. It desperately needs someing and an identikit building full of people visiting with some money to spend might just spur it into life.

Paul AlmeidaJuly 30th 2012.

Developers and the council seem determined to abolish the small amount of buildings that have been left standing in Manchester after the wars.

What is wrong with restoring?!

AnonymousJuly 30th 2012.

A disgraceful decision. The poster above is plain wrong to assert that there was no real legal basis to refuse the application, nor that a refusal would unlikely to be successful when the inevitable challenge came in. It all boils down to what you perceive to be valuable and making a case. The episode over the application for that apartment block in Castlefield shows what can be achieved.

Unfortunately, the planning officer's report was full of highly arguable SUBJECTIVE and unsubstantiated value judgements such as:

"Whilst there is some activity within the
building on the site, their overall appearance at this key gateway site is not consistent with improvements that have been achieved elsewhere within the immediate and wider area"


"The development would improve the first impressions and perceptions of the City providing a well-designed building opposite a principal entrance to the Piccadilly

Really? What about all those people that love the variety and juxtaposition of new and old; humble and grand; large and small that is so quintessentially Mancunian? What about the objections from English Heritage and the Historic Buildings panel?

Then most outrageously, it goes on to assess the heritage value of the Twisted Wheel, blithely dismissing it in one throwaway line:

"The heritage values of the club complex are not considered to be of sufficient special interest to warrant statutory designation of the buildings."

Really? On what basis did you make this judgement? Did you commission any research? Did you speak to any patrons or other members of the public? How much weight did you give to the many objections this proposal received?

Finally the report failed to balance the economic benefits of the hotel with the very substantial and continuing economic benefits that two renowned club nights bring to the city (Legends and Twisted Wheel), attracting many people from all parts of the country throughout the year and every year. Yes, visitors who generate demand for hotel space.

The whole thing is utterly perverse. It is my opinion that the planning committee and the planning officers have not done their job properly and failed to do what people in this city elect and pay them to do, namely, properly consider and balance competing interests, protect what people value and promote sustainable economic growth. So they should be named and shamed for their part in this shameful decision:

Planning Officer Dave Roscoe,
Councillor Shaukat
Councillor Ahmed Ali ,
Councillor Nasrin Ali,
Councillor Andrews,
Councillor Curley,
Councillor Ellison,
Councillor Fender,
Councillor Flanagan,
Councillor Kamal,
Councillor Keller,
Councillor Lewis,
Councillor Loughman(Chair),
Councillor Lyons,
Councillor Siddiqi,
Councillor Watson

And finally ward councillors
Kevin Peel, Joan Davies and Elaine Boyes.

Hang your head in shame one and all in your complicity in helping to make Manchester a very much less interesting, less cultural, less visually distinctive, less socially vibrant and less economically vital place.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 30th 2012.

I suppose Howard Bernstein's name should be added to that list for his role in bringing about this culture of uncritical worship at the alter of the property development industry over and above competing but less powerful interests.

the Whalley RangerJuly 30th 2012.

The apartment block in Castlefield? Was there a proposal to demolish anything? How is it comparable?

I can follow the council's thinking on the matter at hand here - the 'block' has long been lost to Piccadilly Place - have a look at this pic and you will see what I mean:


It is clear cut, really - why did you not list it if you think it's so special? Are we going to list Fab Cafe next, and Altas, and Kro2 (oops, it's gone), just because someone had a good night out there once?

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJuly 30th 2012.

"the 'block' has long been lost to Piccadilly Place."

What does that even mean and how is it relevant? That a set of buildings happen to be much smaller than a neighbouring development completed some 150 years after is not, in fact, justification for its demolition. That would be ludicrous.

Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think Fab Cafe, Kro 2 or Atlas bar have ever played a central role in the development of a distinct musical genre.

AnonymousJuly 30th 2012.

Destinct musical genre?

Isn't Oasis just a glorified Beatles cover band?

Isn't Northern Soul just soul music from the beloved US of A played in the UK?

When a DJ in Singapore puts on a record from Coldplay followed by Elbow, is that relevant?

AnonymousJuly 31st 2012.

Untill I lived in manchester I had not heard of the Madchester Scene or Northern Soul. outside this city people dont know or care so where is historic value.

AnonymousAugust 1st 2012.

Are we really to turn into Liverpool and spend the next 100 years celebrating venues way beyond their relevance? I thought Madchester was a feeling, not a place. It's what we carry in our hearts that make us mancunian - not some rotting back room.

LesleyJuly 31st 2012.

Another council decision made with no northern soul. Planners again backing the corperate wheel. Another example of manchester council being deaf to the music of it's own history. Look forward (not) to another soulless building

Ray MakinJuly 31st 2012.

No one is mentioning this development affecting the setting of a listed building, The Fire Station. The city have been vocal about the importance of the fire station in its role as one of the first sights to greet visitors to Manchester. This bland hotel building is going to hog the limelight and its hard not to imagine Alex Langsam rubbing his hands at the thought of the precedent of scale being set across the street for him.

Jo NightingaleJuly 31st 2012.

For me personally the Twisted Wheel now being in one of the buildings isn't the key issue, it's the destruction of a swathe of the distinctive Victorian red-brick that helps make Manchester what it is. Yes, that corner is a tad run down but is there anything irreparably wrong with the buildings - except the fact that they're not tall enough? Hotel Continental and its counterpart on the other side of Monroes are both very attractive buildings; in other cities they'd be appealing boutique hotels given their location next to Piccadilly. The more these kind of buildings are razed the less we'll have left of what gives Manchester its identity.

ChorltongalJuly 31st 2012.

I am appalled and disgusted that this has been approved. They are stunning buildings and would make lovely boutique hotels with some TLC as Jo above points out. For me the primary concern is these lovely - if a little faded - buildings being razed to the ground to make room for that soulless gigamoth. Shame on you MCC. You are honored with the responsibility of preserving our architectural heritage and you throw it away to a soulless German Motel Group. We lost many of our historical buildings when we were bombed in WW2 and now you let a German firm destroy them through the official planning process. SHAME. ON. YOU.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
DavidAugust 1st 2012.

It seems the Grandads in this city regard all modern buildings as identikit glass houses.However they seem to want their own identikit pseudo Victorian redbrick instead everywhere.

DavidAugust 1st 2012.

Also frankly your mentioning of World War 2 air raids on Manchester and the fact Motel One is a German company suggests to me you are a closet racist

AnonymousAugust 1st 2012.

Actually my Grandfather was German and a lovely man. But thats OK David, you draw your own conclusions, you already seem to in most of your posts here. Its strange because I recognise your contrary and belligerent tone from postings on the MEN and Daily Mail... Many of the things you argue against are almost impossible to deny, and yet you do. Are you a troll? Also, being ChorltonGAL I am hardly a Grandad am I? Aaanyway, I don't want to get into a tit for tat with you. My concern is for our heritage being demolished, not you.

DavidAugust 1st 2012.

A culture rests within its people not in mediocre buildings.The chinese recognise this,they respect and preserve their traditions and culture more than we do.But they don't do it by preserving old and worthless buildings.In Beijing they erased most of old buildings to build a more modern developed city.This is exactly what the Victorians did when they developed Manchester in the 19th Century.

Stuart FisherJuly 31st 2012.

If as a country we pull down and replace all the old buildings we will look like Singapore, Soulless, and architecturally devoid of character.
In years to come a blue plague will be placed on a hideous modern box of building informing the world that a sub culture that was and is loved by millions was born and nurtured in a building on this site. That is sad. Are we only to save buildings where highbrow culture is revered, surely not? Northern Soul is not everyones taste, but the love of the music and the subculture it spawned remins important to its followers, we wouldnt pull down the Royal opera house, but as a nation millions was spent saving it. More people went to the Twisted Wheel and the Wigan Casino in less than thirty years than will ever go through the doors of any opera house. Don't denigrate the culture of Northern Soul as unimportant it was and is important and the places it started should be preserved so that generations to come can understand and appreciate the past, it is the past that gives them a future.
Rant over, Keep the Faith. And think before sending in bull dozers to any more buildings.

8 Responses: Reply To This...
dalai guevaraJuly 31st 2012.

Stuart, there is hardly a danger of that, is there? Just look at the number of sub-standard single glazed uninsulated warehousey type buildings around in the city centre. We worry little about them all suddenly disappearing.

This city block is next to the biggest transport node in the North West of England. It requires an upgrade and will hardly result in the disfigurement of the centre - in fact, it will finally appear coherent.

There are a lot of people in the UK who enbrace tradition to the hilt - all this pseudo mock-tudor housing with lounges in which you cannot swing a cat, all this moving medival pubs around three times and claiming its authentic.

The city centre requires city centre density. Do you want to drive to Daresbury Park to work just to keep some flimsy third rate three story tat of a building in the centre of a 2.5m conurbation?

Knock yourself out about the significance of Northern Soul to the world. Apparently, the Wigan Casino has taken all the credit.

AnonymousJuly 31st 2012.

A few points in response to Dalai Guevara.

Motel One is a hotel chain not an office block. Moreover there is no great shortage of either hotel beds or office space in the city such that it is forcing people to work in Daresbury. Nor is there any danger of that happening.

The city does need density but it also needs variety and character, a decent leisure offer and heritage. All these things help drive investment and economic growth too. The danger is that the property development industry is threatening to cannibalise the very qualities that make Manchester an interesting and attractive place.

And the point about coherence - knock yourself and move to Milton Keynes if that is what you aspire to - surely one of the most coherent looking places in the country. Me? I prefer a bit more variety.

dalai guevaraAugust 1st 2012.

Anon - please do not confuse coherence with monotony or wrong sense of scale.

Clear definition is not a bad thing:

New York is defined by individual quarters which stimulate the imagination of the visitor: Wall Street (Spinningfields), China Town (sic), Greenwich Village (NQ), Meat Packing District (Castlefield), Brooklyn (Chorlton), NJ (Salford Quays) and so on - it is plain to see how this works.

Piccadilly is the 'Port Authority' of Manchester, Times Square (Piccadilly Gardens) just a stone's throw away. It can do with all the hotels it can possibly get.

Piccadilly is the transport

DavidAugust 1st 2012.

If only we did look like Singapore.They have rapidly overtaken us because they look to the future rather than the past
Singapore is much more attractive,safer,and richer city than Manchester.

DavidAugust 1st 2012.

Northern Soul created nothing.Sure they might have been great clubs.But the music was Black American.It belongs to them not us.If we going to honour music in this city,it should be about honouring music created in this city.

dalai guevaraAugust 1st 2012.

David, you are destroying the coherence of my post.

Go away!

Pete RuttSeptember 3rd 2012.

spot on stuart

Pete RuttSeptember 3rd 2012.

maybe its time we all united,strength in numbers = power, [ it would be interesting to see how many soulies are still involved in the scene,we may be surprised to find how many there are nationwide] then we could sign a petition to save this iconic venue? but probably too late,hopefully another venue close by can be found, if i'd known about preservation orders i'd have pushed for one on the casino,old dancehalls are getting rarer,which is a crime,an event in a modern building never feels right to me,its not the setting for our music,2 more ideas,1 we all pool funds and buy a run down venue [ £100 each tho i'm no millionaire by long chalk],2 new soul like anthony wrights "reset to zero" are introduced into the mix,letting young 'uns recognise some tunes + getting new blood into the scene,pete you've done an amazing job with the wheel,brothers and sisters stand up ,dont let the bastards get us down,i for one am proud to be part of the scene ,its been the only thing thats got me thru at times,ktf pete rutt,never trust a politician or a lawyer

Stephen RileyJuly 31st 2012.

As I guess thousands have already said, the case for the Wheel hardly needs to be made. Northern Soul, as a cultural phenomenon, is unique; in the way it came about, in its longevity and in the breadth of its appeal, which has become world-wide. Only those ignorant of this and of the Twisted Wheel’s pivotal role in its history could be so blithely dismissive of the club’s cultural significance. Secondly, where there’s a will there’s a way. Historical subterranean structures are maintained below modern buildings the world over. Saving the Wheel would be feasible if those involved cared enough to do so. Finally, does Manchester really need yet another hotel?
Dr Stephen Riley,

AnonymousJuly 31st 2012.

Ironic isn't it that permission to get rid of Twisted Wheel is announced just as a film about the venue is about to be released.....Yet again Manchester City Council fail to capitalise on something to bring tourist money to the city..... To say they are incompetent fools is an insult to incompetent fools.....

AnonymousJuly 31st 2012.

oh good, another hotel. just what the city centre needs. what happened to plans to renovate the Fire Station into a hotel. surely the construction of another faceless glass and steel box would not be necessary if those concerned were prepared to invest in the sustaining the architectural heritage of the city through renovation rather than destruction. cheaper to destroy another piece of the city's heritage in the pursuit of a quick buck.

Brian AllenJuly 31st 2012.

Very sad,
The Oasis,The Bodega,The Jungfrau and now The Twisted Wheel ...What a shame Liverpool make loads of money from The Cavern and 60's tours around Liverpool and Manchester Council are too shortsighted to see the value of promoting their musical history !!!
I talk as one who knows having taken hundreds of excited people on my 60's musical tour when I used to work at the now defunked Urbis .
One point though in the 1960's The Wheel was moved from Brazenhose street to whitworth street ...could it not move again ??

2 Responses: Reply To This...
DavidAugust 1st 2012.

The two are not comparable, Beatles are world famous.Nobody is interested in Northern Soul outside the people who were involved in it.There are not coach loads of Japanese tourists descending on Manchester asking where the Twisted Wheel was.
Lets face it there is only one thing that Manchester has which the same pulling power and that is Manchester United.

Plan BAugust 15th 2012.

"Nobody is interested in Northern Soul outside the people who were involved in it"


AnonymousAugust 1st 2012.

Ignore that fact that the Twisted Wheel is there, it is an interesting collection of buildings, one of the few left in the City Centre. Moved to Manchester about 7 years ago and I’m afraid it is becoming a dreary looking place, Leeds is leagues ahead of now in terms of how the centre looks and is getting better. Think this City Council is more dangerous than Liverpool in the 80’s. Seems to me like they are more concerned with generating short term revue than creating somewhere bearable to visit or live in. Don’t forget that these are the utter idiots that recommended building that aberration in the middle of Castlefield so it’s no great surprise they approved this.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 1st 2012.

'Leeds is leagues ahead of now in terms of how the centre looks and is getting better.'

Hahahaha! And Bridgewater Place is an iconic demonstration of that? Hahaha!

AnonymousAugust 1st 2012.

Oh yes and lets marvel at the majesty of the Manchester skyline. Bridgewater Place replaced what exactly? Nothing, and it's not exactly city centre either. If Manchester wants to throw up more dull blocks in place of the countless street level car parks then fair enough. It's the knocking down of anything remaining of interest that I've got the problem.

AnonymousAugust 1st 2012.

>Whilst there is some activity within the
building on the site, their overall appearance at this key gateway site is not consistent with improvements that have been achieved elsewhere within the immediate and wider area"


"The development would improve the first impressions and perceptions of the City providing a well-designed building opposite a principal entrance to the Piccadilly

If that's what Dave Roscoe wrote it bodes ill for the FIRE STATION to which all the words can be applied.

AnonymousAugust 1st 2012.

Actually except if you are a tram you don't leave Manchester Piccadilly Station opposite Whitworth Street so it really has nothing to do with first impressions. If City Council's Property Team really wanted to make a contribution to first impressions they might try the sites on the south side of Fairfield Street opposite the taxi rank. This were supposed to be an area for medical service and low rise housing.

Andy WellingNovember 20th 2012.

Manchester is such a bland place these days, totally different to when I moved here in 1984. I've seen the rise and fall of the gay village, gay tourists will stop coming here, it's no longer a landmark city, the venues are closing and Pride is a bore. Do the council know what they are doing, or is this part of their plan?

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