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Flintoff's Apartment Plan Definitely Not In Top Gear

Freddie Flintoff (at right)

Former cricket star Freddie Flintoff, unveiled today as the new presenter of BBC TV's "Top Gear," has failed to convince Manchester planners to wave through his 386-unit city centre apartment scheme.

The 35-storey residential development at Arundel Street, Castlefield, was rejected by councillors despite advice from planners that the scheme met Manchester City Council's development criteria.

Local residents had objected to what became know as Flintoff Towers, arguing it would loom over the smaller-scale developments typical of the area. The claim that the tower marked a gateway to the city centre attracted particular scorn from the local Labour councillor. “It’s a residential area … not just something that looks good to people driving into the city centre," she said, the Manchester Evening News reports.

The planning committee indicated that it was minded to refuse the application from Flintoff's Logick Developments at its meeting in September. In a sign that the applicants feel they have strong grounds for an appeal against the decision, there was no attempt to modify the proposals before they returned to the planning committee in October. Logick propose to make a contribution to support the equivalent of 5% of affordable housing off-site (substantially below the city council's 20% target) and did not adjust this figure for the October meeting. Council officials did not alter their advice to approve the scheme, either.

The official report to councillors emphasised that Historic England and the Design Review Panel (Places Matter) raised no objections to the scheme, but did not draw attention to the concern about the height of the tower by the Manchester Conservation Areas and Historic Buildings Panel.

The decision to reject the tower plan comes as Manchester City Council's long-established approach to property development comes under question from backbench members of the ruling Labour Party.