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C20 Society demands call-in for Neville and Giggs’ Manchester towers

The Twentieth Century Society is calling on the secretary of state to hold a public inquiry into plans for Make’s skyscraper scheme in Manchester for footballers-turned-developers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs 

The heritage group has already voiced concern over the plans for the St Michael’s development, which involve the demolition of buildings in the historic Jackson’s Row near Manchester Town Hall to make way for the 31 and 21-storey towers containing a hotel, apartments and offices.

The proposals would see the demolition of the Manchester Reform Synagogue (1953), designed by Levy and Cummings, and of Bootle Street Police Station (1937), designed by G Noel Hill. Both are due to be torn down to make way for the new development and, last month, were named on The Twentieth Century Society’s top 10 list of buildings most at risk (see AJ 20.01.17).

Now The Twentieth Century Society has called for the planning application to be called in and said it was objecting to the plans ‘in the strongest possible terms’.

Tess Pinto, conservation adviser at the society said: ‘Given the highly sensitive location, the scale of the proposed development and the major concerns that a number of specialist heritage organisations including ourselves share in relation to its impact – as well as the general public, who overwhelmingly opposed the proposals at the public consultation stage – we consider that the merits of this proposal should be scrutinised and decided at the highest level by the secretary of state.’

Pinto also said that the scheme would cause ‘substantial harm’ to conservation areas – the site is in the Deansgate  conservation area and within 250m of the St Peter’s Square conservation area – and the setting of several important buildings such as the  Grade II*-listed 1930s Manchester Town Hall extension and the central library by E Vincent Harris. 

The proposed demolition of the Sir Ralph Abercromby pub in the former St Peter’s Fields, the only building remaining on the site and time of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, has also provoked local anger.

Meanwhile a petition against the scheme, claiming the ‘huge dark towers’ are in ‘the wrong place’, has received more than 3,200 signatures.

A planning application for the scheme was submitted last month, which revised the development by adding 1.9m to the height of the taller block (now 173m AOD) and changing the cladding from black to bronze

Despite the opposition to the scheme, Neville, the former Manchester United defender, said: ‘[Our scheme] 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, PlacesMatter! and the general public.

‘The imagery we have issued today is the final proposal and our hope is to be on site by the end of Summer 2017.’

He added: ‘Having worked on this site for over 10 years, it is extremely exciting to finally reach this milestone and submit the planning application for St. Michael’s.’

Original design, left: revised design, right

Explaining the change in colour of the towers, Make Architects principal Ken Shuttleworth said: ‘In response to the consultation process, the design of the building façade has evolved, including lightening the colour to a softer bronzed aluminium that will change the towers’ appearance in different lights and times of the day and responds to the material tones already in the conservation area.’

As well as a 201-bed, five-star hotel, 159 flats and office space, the proposals feature three new public spaces designed with landscape architect Planit-IE: an entrance square, a 15m-high ‘Spanish Steps-style’ stairway, and an upper-level covered outdoor garden.

Shuttleworth added: ‘We have also improved connectivity and accessibility between the lower and upper squares, which has created more active frontage onto St Michael’s Square.’

Reform Synagogue in Jackson's Row

Reform Synagogue in Jackson’s Row

Source: Manchester History

Reform Synagogue in Jackson’s Row

Readers' comments (2)

  • It looks a bit like in football terms "shooting wildly over the crossbar from six yards out". Owen Luder

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  • How ironic! C20 society had to fight for a new architecture fighting to stop and save! Come on!

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