Published On: 2nd July 2024

PILC support resident-led campaign as they plan to take Manchester City Council to the High Court over controversial decision to approve plans to build unneeded student accommodation 

The wrong type of housing  

Block the Block have been campaigning against developers, Curlew Alternatives Eighth Property LP, who want to build new student accommodation in Hulme, Manchester. 

The plans were refused by the planning committee on four separate occasions. Yet in January of this year, a shambolic planning meeting ended in the committee approving planning permission for the student accommodation development.  

PILC and Greater Manchester Law Centre have been supporting the Block the Block campaign.  

The warning 

On behalf of the residents in the Block the Block Campaign, PILC have issued a letter before action (LBA) to Manchester City Council, highlighting that the way that this permission was given was unlawful.

The letter shows that: 

  • On the fifth meeting, the planning officers told the committee that there was no lawful reason for them to refuse the application, and that if they did want to refuse, they would have to be ‘minded to’ refuse again. This was wrong because planning committees always have the power to refuse
  • The committee were incorrectly told that they couldn’t refuse the application again on the basis that there was no need for this type of accommodation in the area  
  • Planning officers failed to give reasons for deviating from a 2012 decision, but planning law states that a local planning authority must show consistency in their decision making 
  • Planning officers told the committee that a policy published in May 2023 was very important and should be considered as part of the development plan. Our argument is that this was wrong advice –  that policy shouldn’t have been given the same level of consideration as the development plan.

The consequences 

Sally Casey is the chair of the Aquarius Tenants and Residents Association. Of the meeting where plans were approved, she said “It was a complete shambles from start to finish”.  

She goes on to say “It seemed as if the planning officers had no intention of allowing a refusal of Curlew’s plans. I was ashamed to be there to witness the insulting way they dealt with one of their own, and to watch the power that they wield”. 

“We believe that the strange circumstances of this planning application warrant a judicial review” she said. “It’s not right that such controversial plans can be pushed through like that – after four previous rejections. We have an alternative vision for the site and will continue to fight for the affordable social housing Hulme needs”.  

PILC and the residents in the Block the Block campaign eagerly await the response to the LBA. We really hope that Manchester make the right choice, and stop their plans for this unneeded accommodation.  

Block the Block have been campaigning since the conception of these plans. Most recently they handed a copy of the LBA to the planning committee on the 28 June 2024. You can read more about this here.  

You can also follow progress at @blocktheblock1 and @gmtenantsunion

PILC have supported local residents and grassroots campaigns to challenge injustice stemming from gentrification for many years.  

We primarily support local residents by offering legal advice and representation. The aim is not simply to win individual cases, but to set legal precedents and change wider policy and practice.  

Want to get in touch about gentrification issues you are facing? Please contact Alex at or Saskia at