Twentieth Century Society says Make scheme for Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs is “extremely harmful”
Heritage group the Twentieth Century Society has again attacked Make’s proposals to build a brace of towers in Manchester for footballers-turned-developers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs just days after the scheme went in for planning.
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. This will be carried out by Chinese contractor Beijing Construction Engineering Group International.
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.
As well as the Twentieth Century Society – which has submitted an application to have the synagogue listed – Historic England has previously raised concerns about the plans which sit in the city’s Deansgate and Peter Street Conservation Areas and next door to the Albert Square and St Peter’s Square Conservation Areas.
But the footballers, who are both directors of Jackson’s Row Developments, said they had listened to concerns and hope to be on site by the middle of this year.
Neville said: “St Michael’s has received significant coverage both locally and nationally. We have undertaken extensive public consultation and have taken on board comments wherever possible from Historic England, [north-west design review group] PlacesMatter! and the general public.”
The main change to the scheme is the appearance of the two towers – coming in at 31 and 21 storeys high – which have swapped a black façade for anodised bronze one.
But the Twentieth Century Society’s conservation advisor Tess Pinto, who last autumn condemned the plans as “shocking”, said barely anything about the scheme had changed – with the height of the towers and the demolition proposed staying as previously planned.
She added: “It’s alarming that the response to widespread local and national concern has been to make an imperceptible alteration to the cladding material. We continue to strongly dispute the applicant’s assertion that the claimed public benefits will outweigh both the extremely harmful impact of the towers on the St Peter’s Square conservation area, and the loss of several historic buildings which contribute to Manchester’s unique character.”
Historic England has previously said the plans were “of great concern to us” and added: “We think that the scale and form of the plans would create a high level of harm to both the conservation of the area and the setting of the nationally important civic buildings of the town hall and library.”
The plans include new public spaces at St Michael’s Square, The Garden and The Steps and Neville added: “The scheme will transform an underused part of the city and will offer an incredible statement in architecture and development for Manchester.”
Explaining the change in façade, Make founder Ken Shuttleworth said: “Lightening the colour to a softer bronzed aluminium will change the towers’ appearance in different lights and times of the day and responds to the material tones already in the conservation area. We have also improved connectivity and accessibility between the lower and upper squares which has created more active frontage onto St Michaels Square.”
In a report issued last summer, PlacesMatter! said: “This development has the potential to be the catalyst which would help bridge the link to a regenerated Great Northern Square and change the character of streets in the vicinity.”
In the planning documents submitted, demolition of the synagogue, police station and pub are justified because “the benefits of the scheme substantially outweigh the heritage harm caused”.
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.
The hotel and apartments will be included in the taller tower while 19 floors of office space will be in the lower tower along with a restaurant at level 20.
Also backing the scheme is developer Brendan Flood, Singapore-based property developer Rowsley and development manager Zerum Consultant.