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City council threatened with legal action over permission for 55-storey tower accommodating students

Manchester City Council faces legal action over its decision to allow construction of a tower block of student accommodation in the city centre, it has been reported.

A council statement said: “The council is part of an on-going dialogue with the complainant and are subject to legal process. Therefore, it would be wholly inappropriate to comment at this point.”

The Manchester Evening News has reported that the dispute concerns residents of the Macintosh Village area, who object to a 55-storey tower being built near to their homes.

They also object to the loss of parking right secured on leases in the multi-storey car park now on the site.

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The newspaper said a pre-action letter gave eight grounds of challenge including a failure to prove the need for purpose built student accommodation, impact on air quality, a flawed site visit and a flawed consultation process.

A report to Manchester’s planning committee that recommended acceptance of the scheme in July noted that it had generated objections from groups representing 641 residents of Macintosh Village.

It said the proposal for 853 purpose built student accommodation units and 786 square metres of SME incubator workspaces would replace the multi-story car park.

The report said: “Macintosh Village Residents Company considers that the any grant of planning permission would interfere with their legal rights to park/rights of way in the [multi-storey car park], afforded to them in their 999 year lease.

“They have obtained a legal opinion which notes their opposition to the redevelopment of the car park. It states that the redevelopment, insofar as it would reduce the number of spaces available, is not permissible by the lease in or of itself and that the development of the car park (both during the construction phase and upon the completion) would likely result in actional interference with the rights of tenants with the benefit of the right of way and the right to park.

“The legal opinion concludes that the tenants with the benefits of the rights would be able to seek to restrain such interference by injunction.”

The officer’s report said though that private third-party rights to park there “are not a material planning consideration, including whether the rights would preclude the implementation of the proposal”.

Mark Smulian

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