Plans to transform one of Manchester’s oldest and largest mills into housing in a £58m project has been given the go-ahead.
A total of 277 flats and townhouses will now be created at Brunswick Mill and two neighbouring new-build blocks in Ancoats.
Maryland Securities is behind the scheme for the mill on Bradford Road, which is grade II listed.
Around 20,000 sq ft of work and community space will also be provided from the ground floor of the mill, along with a new public path linking to the Ashton Canal towpath.
But the scheme, known as Brunswick Place, falls short of the authority’s target for 20% of homes in new residential developments to be ‘affordable’, the Local Democracy Reporting service has said.
Planning policy defines this as properties where the rent or mortgage costs no more than 30% of Manchester’s average gross household income of around £27,000.
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An independent assessment found that affordable housing would affect Maryland Securities’ profit margins, with the developer also not planning to pay a commuted sum of money towards improving the local area or providing social homes elsewhere in Manchester.
Ancoats and Beswick councillor Marcia Hutchinson, a member of the planning committee, urged colleagues to reject the plans at a meeting on Thursday.
“My concern is that a development of this size, especially when two enabling buildings are included, shouldn’t go ahead without any social housing,” said Cllr Hutchinson.
“We shouldn’t be granting permission for such large developments without anything for the local area.
“It’s the thin end of the wedge. I’ve tried to get some support for a park very close to this site which is basically awful, and it is one of the nearest green spaces to this site.”
The meeting heard that Maryland Securities will be expected to revisit the viability of affordable housing if there is a greater level of profit than the £10.4m currently forecast.
John Cooper, a partner at Deloitte advising on Brunswick Place, told the committee not to underestimate the ‘sheer scale of the building and repairs’ required.
“The applicant demonstrated that the proposals can viably support that cost and will deliver the long-term sustainable use of the site,” he added.
Cllr Joan Davies, another member of the planning committee, said that the scheme had to be viewed as a ‘whole package’.
The refurbishment of Brunswick Mill could be viewed as a contribution in lieu of affordable housing or funding for improving the area, the meeting heard.
Cllr Davies added: “When that is the choice, it doesn’t always leave room for affordable housing, and I can understand that argument.”
Brunswick Mill is currently occupied by 11 tenants including small businesses and music rehearsal studios, with the loss of the latter prompting concerns amongst five objectors.
But before work can begin, Maryland Securities will need to agree to a financial package with the occupiers to help them relocate to new premises, preferably in east Manchester.
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