Wings of Grade II listed Edwardian hospital face demolition to make way for new blocks

Sheppard Robson-designed proposals for two new commercial laboratories in Manchester’s “knowledge quarter” have won planning permission, despite requiring the demolition of part of a Grade II listed Edwardian hospital building.

Members of Manchester City Council’s Planning and Highways Committee gave their backing to the Citylabs 2.0 and Citylabs 3.0 buildings, which will deliver almost 25,000 sq m of clinical research space on the site of the Old St Mary’s Hospital.

The project, for the Manchester Science Partnerships organisation, aims to expand on the success of Sheppard Robson’s Citylabs 1.0 building, which completed in 2015 on a different part of the hospital campus.

The new six- and seven-storey blocks will require the demolition of two rear wings of the hospital, but remaining parts of the building – including the hospital chapel will be retained and refurbished.

Recommending the proposals for councillors’ approval, planning officers said that the new buildings would create more than 600 new jobs, and that the principle of demolishing most of the under-threat parts of the existing structure had been established by an earlier application in 2010.

They accepted that the proposal would “involve the loss of historic fabric” but argued the impact had “been fully assessed and the level of harm is considered to be less than substantial”.


Old Saint Mary's Hosptial

Old Saint Mary’s Hospital in Manchester, seen from Oxford Road


“The proposed development would make a positive contribution towards the city council’s strategic objectives for employment generation,” they said, “and achieve high quality architectural design that makes a positive contribution to townscape, whilst refurbishing and enhancing retained heritage assets.”

The council said government heritage adviser Historic England had decided not to offer any comment on the proposals.

Chris Roberts, chief development officer at developer Bruntwood – which is a Manchester Science Partnerships member – said the planning consent would give a “new lease of life” to the hospital building.

Other members of the partnership include the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester City Council, Salford City Council, and Cheshire East Council.

The development will be a joint venture between MSP and site owner Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.