River Street Tower, Manchester

Contractor: Downing Construction


Downing Property Services





Downing appointed HE Simm to deliver full M&E services for its River Street Tower student accommodation in Manchester back in March 2019. Despite the global pandemic, work on the 792-bedroom complex with state-of-the-art facilities was completed safely, on time and to a high standard in August 2020.



River Street Tower is a £110m development just five minutes from Manchester Metropolitan University and Piccadilly Station. Its 792 en-suite bedrooms include shared flats and self-contained studio apartments, all fitted out to a luxurious standard. Facilities include a gym, games room, communal social space, dining area, laundry and cinema.

A seven-strong team from HE Simm worked on site, equally balanced between mechanical and electrical. They were joined by 40–50 HE Simm subcontractors during the first year of the project, with reduced numbers after lockdown.



The project was progressing on programme and going smoothly when the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

The implementation of Government guidelines and social distancing was a major issue, with lockdowns and the threat of site closures looming. We reached out to the wider business. HE Simm immediately organised daily Covid conference calls to raise issues, identify solutions and share best practice across HE Simm and Downing Construction sites. Both teams pulled together, quickly adapting to guidelines and the challenges that entailed and developing new processes to ensure the safety of all operatives on site. Risks were assessed and minimised.

Procurement worked tirelessly to source all of the specified products required from the limited suppliers still trading, to enable us to maintain progress and keep on track.

The last couple of months were a real challenge but we continued to remain positive recognising the finish line was in sight. We worked diligently, methodically and managed to complete the project not only on time but to an excellent standard.


River Street Tower welcomed its first student residents in September 2020, after successfully meeting the target completion date of 31st August.

The project was delivered to a high standard and safely. In the words of our Project Manager, Kevin Wright: “Completing this scheme during a global pandemic felt like a huge achievement. It was a real team effort and a testament to positivity, collaboration, communication and openness.”

Downing Director Ian Orton comments: “We at Downing would like to thank you all for your efforts in these very difficult times and I am sure we can rely on you all to work with us to get this project over the finishing line. Great achievement by you all and well done from the Downing directors for what you and our site teams have achieved.”