TRAILBLAZING GRAPHENE CENTRE SET FOR APPROVAL
4th February 2016
The proposed Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre on Manchester's Oxford Road looks set to get the green light after planners said it would make a significant contribution to establishing Corridor Manchester as an "economic powerhouse".
Plans to build a new hospital, refurbish a 13-storey office block, and build a 183-bedroom hotel with a casino and restaurant in the city are also nearing approval.
On Thursday (4 February 2016), Manchester City Council's planning committee will discuss a full planning application by Stuart Lockwood of the University of Manchester to construct the GEIC on a 2.1-acre site next to Mancunian Way and bordered by Lower Albion Street to the north, Sackville Street to the west and the Ferranti Building to the east. The development would offer 87,123 sq ft of space across three floors.
The GEIC is intended to complement the University of Manchester's National Graphene Institute, which is located a few hundred metres away. It is envisaged that the GEIC would bridge the gap between academia and manufacturing over graphene, providing a facility for the development of graphene products, components and systems.
Ahead of the committee meeting, a report prepared by planning officers has highlighted the regeneration benefits of the scheme particularly within the context of Corridor Manchester, the area running south from St Peter's Square to Whitworth Park along Oxford Road. Corridor Manchester brings together a group of knowledge-intensive organisations and businesses operating in the areas of health, higher education, the creative industries, advanced materials, low carbon, digital and financial services.
"GEIC would contribute towards the aspirations of the Corridor Manchester partnership and help to generate further economic growth and investment in the knowledge economy.
"By 2020 the Corridor will be generating £4.7bn GVA [gross value added] and have a workforce of 77,000. The concentration of knowledge-based assets on the Corridor means it has the potential to be the economic powerhouse of the North West region and GEIC would be a significant contributor to this."
The report has recommended that councillors should approve the scheme.
Also up for consideration is not-for-profit healthcare organisation Nuffield Health's application to build a hospital and wellbeing centre on the former Manchester Metropolitan University Elizabeth Gaskell Campus on Hathersage Road between Oxford Road and Upper Brook Street.
It is proposed that a building rising up to four storeys high would be constructed on the unused 5.2-acre site containing six operating theatres, minor treatment rooms with outpatient departments, a six-bedroom critical care unit, an endoscopy suite, a pathology suite, two wards, a diagnostic suite, physiotherapy rooms and a gym.
Planning officers have recommended approving the project.
They said: "The proposal will see the redevelopment and regeneration of a vacant brownfield site at the junction of two key road frontages in order to provide a high-quality development that has strong connections with adjoining health-related land uses and the Manchester Corridor strategy area."
Elsewhere on the agenda, the committee is being asked to consider a full planning application by David Russell of Portland Street Property to refurbish and extend the 13-storey 55 Portland Street office building, the former CIS tower facing Bruntwood's Manchester One tower block, into a 14-storey office building with ground-floor retail space. The proposal also involves construction of a ten-storey 183-bedroom hotel with a casino at ground-floor and basement level, and a bar and restaurant with access onto a garden area at first-floor level.
This scheme has been recommended for approval.
A planning officer's report said: "It is considered that a hotel and office-led mixed use development of this scale would be consistent with national and local planning policy.
"It would help to promote a quality neighbourhood, economic development and sustainable travel patterns. The development would be linked to wider regeneration initiatives and help to underpin investment across a larger area, supporting regeneration benefits in excess of those directly associated with the proposal."
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