A city at a cross roads: Refuse permission for the £741 million skyscrapers

By Greater Manchester Housing Action (@gmhousingaction)


On Thursday the planning committee will consider an application by Renaker for permission to build Trinity Islands: four skyscrapers incorporating 1,950 apartments and with a Gross Development Value of £741 million. The developers have declined to make any significant contribution to support affordable/social housing either on site or through the section 106. The MEN newspaper reports that the developers are offering £106,000 to the Council, not enough for one social housing unit to be built and likely a PR stunt aimed at an angry public and easy to please Planning Committee. They claim in the viability assessment that, “the enclosed viability cannot support further s106 /affordable housing contribution". Viability assessments are a sham in which consultants make calculations that nearly always precludes supporting councils to deliver social or affordable housing. Even with a supposed 12% return Renaker are on for a near £89 million profit.  


Earlier week the MEN published a special report from Jen Williams documenting the soaring housing crisis in the city. She spoke to a range of councillors from across the city, “Didsbury East councillor Linda Foley this week warned of a looming ‘tsunami of people’ needing the council’s help; Ardwick’s Amna Saad Omar Abdullatif, whose community sits in the shadow of the booming city centre, described one family whose rent ‘was going up and up and up, and they were managing and managing and managing, until it was no longer viable to manage’, as their landlord hiked it every six months.”


It is clear to Mancunians, including Labour councillors, that the city is at a crossroads.


We have consistently warned for over five years now that the real estate boom in the city centre is fuelling a housing crisis. The Council has allowed developers to make soaring profits without any contributions to affordable or social housing – certainty not the 20% set out in the local planning guidance.


We were ignored, but all the evidence now shows we were correct in our assessments.


We call on Council Leader Bev Craig and the Planning Committee to refuse planning permission for Trinity Islands and to contest the viability assessment of the developers. This has long been the practice in London Boroughs such as Tower Hamlets who have a dedicated internal team to capture public value. We cannot allow skyscrapers with a value approaching a billion pounds to be given planning permission without a significant financial contribution toward addressing the housing crisis.


To carry on now despite all the evidence means there is no turning back for Manchester. The housing crisis is out of control, now is the time to travel down a different path.


Cover image: Renaker.



15 February 2021