Redevelopment of Fallowfield campus deferred due to residents objection

  • The proposal includes the demolition of Owens Park
  • Up to 950 bedrooms would be added to the campus
  • The proposed accommodation would be complete by 2030

A united decision defers the demolition of a popular student campus in South Manchester.

Long-term residents and student are objecting the redevelopment of the campus due to drastic increase in bed spaces on the campus and unaffordable rent prices.

The first phase of the redevelopment is scheduled for 2024. This includes a partial demolition of the existing campus, including the “iconic” 20-storey Owens Park tower from the 1960’s, as well as Oak House and Woolton Hall.

The Councillors have requested the University for a reconsideration of the bed spaces offered. Currently, there are 4,427 bedrooms on the campus – some of which are outdated and unused. The new development has called for an additional 950 which the Councillors have objected to.

Local volunteer Tanya Sparks spoke in the meeting, she said: “Around 700 people have signed a petition against it.” Adding, “no details of access, no details of specific bed numbers at scale, affordability, no details of any kind on how they’re going to offset the significant environmental harm.

Andrew Bickerdike, director and head of Planning North at Turley has called this a “once in a generation opportunity to transform this iconic campus to ensure its contribution to Manchester’s success as a major global university city”.

Aerial view sketch of proposed new campus
Aerial view sketch of the new campus showing the stark changes suggested for the area /Photo credit: University of Manchester

Two Councillors from the Fallowfield ward objected to the proposal over the matter of numbers proposed and the affordability of the accomodation, their speeches were received with a loud applause from the public gallery.

Councillor Ali Ilyas said, “I recognise and support the need for students to have access to decent, safe, and suitable accommodation in Fallowfield.”


Followed by Councillor Jade Mary Doswell said “Everyone who lives, works or studies in Fallowfield deserves a decent quality of life and an affordable, safe place to live.”

Adding “I have met with students from lower income families who were genuinely concerned about the current cost of accommodation and the impact of proposed 2023/2024 increases. There is a consensus that university accommodation from all providers is already too expensive.”

The planning committee responded with the claim that “[the university] would argue that all of their accommodation is affordable.” This statement was met with a lot of laughter from the public on the balcony.

University students speak out against the changes

A student-led organization @uomrentstrike has also raised concerns over the affordable rent, they said; “Our objection to the proposal centres around the fact that the is for the university to demolish its cheapest accommodation (Oak House) and replace it with new expensive accommodation to increase its profits.”

They added: “Though we are in favour of new student accommodation on this site and have been campaigning for a drastic improvement in the living conditions and maintenance of the current accommodation, which is often unlivable; we do not believe an increase in quality should justify an increase in university profiteering.”


Demolition deferred

Councillors such as Cllr Basil and Cllr Johnson called for a site visit prior to making a decision on the redevelopment of the campus, this decision prompted an unanimous vote which deferred the decision on the PBSA.

The future of the campus will be discussed in further meetings.