Leeds is set for its first £1m penthouse flats in a development that has irked conservation organisations, Manchester is to become surf central, a new Derby performance space is set to replace what will be lost with the Assembly Rooms, and a specialist hospital is to be built in York where once Terry’s made chocolate.
MODERN SURF, MANCHESTER
Thought Cornwall was the epicentre of British surfing culture? Think again, because VW Vans with surfboards strapped to the roof will soon be headed to an industrial site in Manchester to catch the waves. Leslie Jones Architecture has worked with Wavegarden, developer of wave generation technology, to draw up plans for a thoroughly urban version of beach culture.
Instead of reverting to a beach aesthetic, such as at Bristol’s The Wave, the architect has worked with the canal and rail heritage of the area to introduce a thoroughly urban vibe, collaborating with Global Street Art agency to work with the city’s urban art scene, and a landscape design referencing the industrial materiality and texture of Trafford alongside perennials, shrubs and grasses.
The site is largely taken up with a 160m by 200m Cove surfing lake, including two swimming channels and a central pier which generates the waves and also acts as a public viewing platform. Around the edge sits a cluster of hub buildings for administration, commercial use, food and beverage outlets, changing areas and a surf school. Alongside are platforms for pop-up beach bars and dune-like viewing mounds.
Surfing England, which will look to support athletes aiming for Olympic medals now the sport is included in the games, hopes that the centre will put Manchester on the world surfing map, supporting a project it hopes will introduce hundreds of thousands more people to riding waves.
DISABILITY HOSPITAL, YORK
An empty site where the Terry’s Chocolate factory once stood is to be redeveloped as a new centre for the Disability Trust, containing 40 beds across four wards, with associated treatment rooms. Directly to the north of the site sits the grand and imposing main building of the Terry’s factory, converted into residential use, and the new Jefferson Sheard scheme deliberately plays against the strong perpendicular frontage with an arrangement of wards and linking spaces that fan across the site, forming three irregularly shaped internal courtyards.
This is designed to give a less institutional feel to the building, and provide varying sightlines across the landscape and broader conservation site within which the hospital sits. Set predominantly across two floors, the external finishes respond to surrounding heritage using brickwork and natural stone cladding; a standing seam cladding brings a repeating vertical element which draws from the pattern of the industrial sheds that once stood on the site. A sedum roof softens the view of the building from the neighbouring residential block,
Internally, the arrangements follow a ‘form follows function’ logic, with a gym, physio, and range of rehabilitation, treatment and quiet rooms alongside individual bedrooms and service spaces. Importantly, the outside offers spaces valuable to health and recuperation. Led by landscape architect Re-form, the site includes sensory gardens, exercise areas and clear routes for safe navigation of the site, while the internal courtyards vary in focus from a contemplative space of withdrawal to a busier meeting place for families and visitors.
A new state-of-the-art flexible performance space is to be built in Derby. As well as a main auditorium which it is hoped will bring A-list acts to the city, a smaller auditorium offers a space which can seat 400 for performances, or be arranged in different configurations for conferences, VIP use or private hire. The main space can be configured into seven variations, to cater for concerts, banquets, in-the-round theatre and for other attendance requirements.
Existing buildings on the site include a five-storey office block sat atop a five-storey podium. This contains a carpark, as well as a restored nightclub, casino and petrol station which all closed within the last 15 years – masterplanned by the architect behind the venue in a 30,000m2 regeneration scheme to bring new life to the area. This venue is central to that scheme, with full-height corner glazing to the entrance atrium and silver powder coated metal mesh ‘feature cladding’ above a lower-level brick facade along Colyear Street, creating a geometric metal ‘totem feature’ as place-making device.
The new venue’s maximum capacity (in a gig configuration including standing) is 3,500 people. Coincidentally, this is the same number that could fit into the Assembly Rooms, which is in line for demolition despite opposition from the heritage, environmental and architectural sectors. When the council ran a feasibility study into refurbishing the council-managed Assembly Rooms, costs came to £23 million.
The cost of the overall Becketwell regeneration scheme will total £200 million, with the council paying the developer the venue’s £45 million up-front construction cost, before leasing it to international conglomerate venue management company ASM Global for 30 years.
2 GREAT GEORGE STREET, LEEDS
Leeds’ first purpose-built municipal school for higher grade pupils, dating back to 1899, has received permission to be converted into a residential block with ground floor offices, and a controversial glass and aluminium-fin penthouse extension.
Sited centrally within the Leeds City Centre Conservation Area, the handsome building is one of a group with similar civic intent and stone-dressed red brick appearance, including neighbouring Leeds College of Art. Planning permission had previously been granted for conversion to a boutique hotel, which heritage bodies had concerns with, though this new scheme has been passed despite similar opposition, including strong words from English Heritage.
This project too has been through a journey to acceptance. An initial proposal, which featured corner-wrapping timber-deck balconies at each floor, has undergone significant changes since the first submission.
But other elements, including the three-storey penthouse for four luxury £1 million flats with generous roof terraces, remained. ‘Gosh, it’s taken some effort to get this far!’, architect and head of design at Priestley wrote on his LinkedIn, after planning permission for the amended scheme was approved by councillors.
His changes see the long balconies now clad in stone and scaled down to sit within stone flanking columns, and entirely removed from floors where their addition clashed with existant cornices. Other alterations to the scheme, considering initial heritage feedback, see alterations to access and details to a new top floor and cornice to keep details in proportion to the rhythm of the historic architecture, though the penthouse and luxury flats remain, to the vexation of conservationists.
The Victorian Society says these ‘will cause the total loss of the extant roof-top playground, a historically important and increasingly rare type of space’. The Ancient Monuments Society stated that the extension will ‘dominate the building’, while Historic England calls it an ‘incongruous imposition’, as well as raising concern about the lack of information on the existing internal fabric, which it states should be ‘critically important in informing the re-use of such a notable piece of the civic history of Leeds’.
Despite this opposition, Leeds council has approved the plans of Priestley, a Leeds based developer, and the disused building will be brought back into use – with some future rooftop residents having fine views across the city.