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Affordable Housing, Withington: Planning to Scale

Updated: Jun 22

For this South Manchester development, we applied the same principles that we’ve used on our many larger projects. Here, the plan was to transform the site of life-expired industrial premises into affordable housing.

The Brief

Our client wanted to deliver an affordable housing scheme that would replace existing red-brick industrial premises with high quality new housing.

The architectural design for the new social housing took its inspiration from acknowledging the site’s industrial heritage.

The Issue

The scheme was proposed for an area once a mix of homes and industry but is almost exclusively residential.

This made the industrial nature of the proposed site something of an anomaly. But it was an anomaly our client could use to provide a design sympathetic to the area's heritage.

Like the Bolton Central Street project we worked on, the planning application came with a set timeframe that would allow for the draw-down of public-sector funding.

Therefore, the Withington scheme became a practical model for applying our principles to a smaller-scale project.

Our Approach

We undertook a pre-application consultation with the local planning authority. This allowed us to gather vital information for making refinements to the proposed development to chart an efficient path to planning permission being granted.

Following our established methodology, we looked at the detail of the proposed scheme and how it sat in context – what local views of it there were, and whether there was any opposition.

We ran an online consultation to get local opinions and to gain a clear picture of how people saw the general principle of introducing residential use to a former industrial site.

This wasn’t an academic exercise but something rooted in assessing potential on-the-ground issues that could influence or obstruct the project’s progression.

This also required considerable knowledge of the makeup of the local council and planning authority and of the community that might be impacted in some way by the project.

It was about putting people’s minds at rest and understanding the broader context of the site and not just the development itself.

The Application of Experience

Getting everybody behind the project who needs to be on board comes from experience in the field. That experience is something we incorporate into our approach.

And this applies to smaller and larger scale projectss that catch the public attention and imagination.

That includes this affordable housing scheme in Withington.

In fact, during the application process, we did make some significant changes to the scheme following consultation.

These included addressing the potential impact of the scheme's design on sunlight and daylight supply in the context of effect on the amenity of existing properties nearby.

We were confident we knew all the issues before moving ahead with the planning application, but also used the determination process to help refine the proposals for the site.

The outcome is a scheme that considers individual interests and broader developmental concerns.

It's 24 residential units. Regardless of a scheme’s scale, our approach is the same input on smaller scale projects is in keeping with the larger projects on which we’ve worked.

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