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15th October 2015

Owens Park’s £200m refurbishment

For years there have been rumours of knocking down the Owens Park Tower, but it now appears these plans have been officially set in motion

Last year a draft master plan was agreed by a development company, run by Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, to rejuvenate accommodation campus Owens Park and create a new ‘student village’. The £200 million facelift is set to house an extra 1,000 students, as well as providing many new facilities and amenities.

Part of this plan includes knocking down bedraggled but beloved OP Tower, as well as 80 mature trees and other halls buildings. The new student village is expected to provide 150 parking spaces, a doctor’s surgery, shops, and a new student services surgery.

Owens Park is Manchester University’s main residential site, and was completed in 1966. Once home to Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien and comedian Jack Whitehall, the Owens Park Tower, standing at 200 feet, dominates the Fallowfield landscape. Other plans to demolish the tower have been suggested in the past; the first plan was put forward in 2001 to knock down the tower by 2004. However, this was abandoned after multiple protests by previous and current residents.

However, some current Fallowfield residents have concerns about the planning proposals, on issues such as littering and potential crime. A meeting was held on October the 12th to discuss these concerns.

Sue Devlin is the Honourable Secretary of the Rusholme & Fallowfield Civic Society, a society which aims to promote the historical and cultural significance of Rusholme and Fallowfield by protecting the environment and representing the local community. She describes the society’s aims as “encouraging the preservation, development and improvement of the features which make pleasing conditions in which to live and work, and encouraging high standards of architecture and town planning in the area.”

Devlin told The Mancunion that the society “will be judging the planning application against these aims of preservation, and against the council’s stated planning policy—Manchester’s Local Plan, and will be making a formal representation to the council’s planning department on that basis, in due course.”

Within these plans, the Council recognises the “university-owned Fallowfield campus sites will be appropriate for further high density purpose built student accommodation,” suggesting that new residential units will be delivered as part of the new student village.

Despite many plans to refurbish Owens Park not being carried out, it appears that this new master plan has been set in motion. However, it’s projected date of completion is 2027, so it’s unlikely that the new plans would affect any current students at the university.

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