Historic England says Manchester scheme “is not good enough”
Historic England has said architect Make’s plans for a pair of towers in Manchester for footballers turned developers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs will wreck nearby conservation areas.
The government advisory body is the latest heritage group to flag up worries about the plans which were submitted to Manchester city council at the end of last month.
The £140m city centre site, originally known as Jackson’s Row but now called St Michael’s, will include a brace of connected towers with the footballers hoping work can start on site this summer.
But Catherine Dewar, Historic England’s planning director for the north-west, said: “We are deeply concerned about how this scheme would affect some of Manchester’s most precious heritage.
“It would have an impact on people’s appreciation and experience of the stunning town hall and library but it would also erase different layers of this area’s history, irreparably damaging the special character of the surrounding conservation area.”
Historic England said the design, height and colour of the development would dominate the Deansgate and Peter Street Conservation Area and “dwarf the nationally important” Central Library and grade I listed town hall.
Dewar said: “A dynamic city like ours needs to fully embrace development but this scheme is not good enough to justify the damage it would cause to the streets around the site and to the setting of the city’s most important buildings and spaces.
“It threatens Manchester with the loss of historic places that have soul and tell important stories about our city’s past.”
Save Britain’s Heritage has also rubbished the scheme calling it “a town planning disaster of a magnitude not seen in decades”.
In formally objecting to the plans, Save said the 21 and 31 storey towers “would loom over and dominate the surrounding area, which contains some 72 listed buildings and nine Conservation Areas within 250m of the site”.
Work will involve demolishing the Manchester Reform Synagogue, built in 1953, and Bootle Street Police Station, built in 1937. A pub, the Sir Ralph Abercromby, which dates back to the early nineteenth century, has also been slated for the wrecking ball.
The Twentieth Century Society – which has submitted an application to have the synagogue listed – has also raised concerns about the plans which, as well as sitting in the Deansgate and Peter Street Conservation Areas, will be built next door to the Albert Square and St Peter’s Square Conservation Areas.
But the former Manchester United footballers, who are both directors of Jackson’s Row Developments, said they had listened to concerns after proposals were first unveiled last summer and hope to be on site by the middle of this year.
The main change to the scheme is the appearance of the two towers which have swapped a black façade for anodised bronze one.
The final submitted plans comprise a 201-bed five-star hotel, 159 apartments, 12,800 sq m of grade A office space and 4,500 sq m of retail and leisure space, including two new sky bars and restaurants.