Manchester City Council

Sports, leisure & the Arts Smithfield Conservation Area

Control of development

Development control in Smithfield is aimed at encouraging development and activity which enhances the prosperity of the area, whilst paying attention to its special architectural and visual qualities.

Existing buildings in the south of the area tend to be larger in scale than those in the other parts of the Conservation Area. New buildings in Piccadilly, Market Street, Church Street and the southern parts of High Street and Oldham Street should relate to their immediate neighbours which are up to seven storeys high. Elsewhere in the area existing developments tend to be lower, rarely exceeding four storeys.

The main criterion in urban design terms in this area is about fitting into an established street pattern with the scale of development proportions and materials of major concern. Quality is the overriding aim in any new proposal, and this can be provided in either sensitive refurbishment of existing buildings or the appropriate design of new buildings.

Most development proposals will require planning permission and minor works, such as replacement of windows, will, if they alter the appearance of a building, also require prior approval of the City Council. Alterations to listed buildings usually require Listed Building Consent. The City Centre Team will be willing to give advice on such matters, which should be sought at an early stage, as should advice on any demolition proposals in the conservation area, since these are likely to require consent.

As with all new development, proposals are considered in their context. For example, new buildings may be designed to occupy currently vacant sites or to replace existing structures. Demolition of existing buildings of architectural or townscape merit should be seen as a last resort and a coherent and complete justification made in line with government guidance on the issues relevant to each case must be made.

The large area of car parking bounded by Shudehill, Goadsby Street and the fish markets was the site of the main market hall in Smithfield. When gaps or other spaces such as this are sensitively re-developed and/or designed to incorporate public open space, the overall urban environment of the Conservation Area will be considerably improved.

Applications will very often require the preparation of designs shown in relation to an entire street or square, or as viewed down long vistas, especially if the site is to be seen from the junction of two streets.

The urban design context is vital in this conservation area. Designers of proposed buildings should take account of this rather than evolving a design which has no clear relationship with buildings nearby. This does not mean a debased copying of historical forms. These serve only to devalue the genuinely historical buildings nearby. It does mean acknowledging the characteristics of massing, proportions, elevational subdivision, colours and materials of adjacent buildings in the design of the modern additions.

In line with other parts of the city centre, new development proposals should generally be aligned to the back of pavement, in order to preserve the linear character of the streets.

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