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Ken Shuttleworth quits Neville’s Manchester towers scheme

Ken Shuttleworth’s practice Make has resigned from a controversial Manchester skyscraper scheme backed by footballers-turned-developers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs

The AJ100 firm had already revised its original concept for the city centre development – known as St Michael’s – following a number of public consultations. There had also been widespread concern about the potential loss of three historic buildings (see AJ 27.01.17).

Two months later, at the MIPIM property fair in March, Neville confessed there would be further changes to the two 31 and 21-storey towers and that he had also instructed Manchester City Council not to consider the original planning application (see AJ 15.03.17).

It then emerged that Manchester-based, former RIBA president Stephen Hodder had been brought in by Neville and his development team to carry out a review of the proposed residential and hotel scheme, which is earmarked for a site close to the city’s town hall (see AJ 27.04.17).

Shuttleworth had collaborated with Neville on the project for more than 10 years – during which time he also drew up unrealised proposals for the former England defender’s home – although the first designs for St Michael’s were not made public until last summer.

In a statement released to the AJ, Shuttleworth said he believed the practice’s involvement ‘had reached a natural conclusion’.

He said: ‘We’ve been totally committed to the evolution of the scheme and have continued to work on revised proposals, but we feel that the current direction does not align with our ambition for the site and it is right to step aside.

‘St Michael’s is an important project for Manchester and we wish Gary Neville and his team every success in bringing it to fruition.’

The 201-bedroom hotel, 159-apartment and office scheme has regularly been in the press, mainly due to concerns over the future of the 1950s-built Manchester Reform Synagogue in Jackson’s Row and the nearby Neoclassical Bootle Street Police Station (1937). Both were scheduled to be torn down to make way for the Make-designed development and in January were named on The Twentieth Century Society’s top 10 list of buildings most at risk.

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

Two major public consultations, minor design alterations and a change in colour of the towers from black to bronze did little to appease objectors to the plans.

A petition against the scheme, claiming the ‘huge dark towers’ are in the wrong place, received more than 4,500 signatures.

Historic England was also unconvinced by the original Make designs, saying it was deeply concerned about the proposal, which ‘would aggressively push itself into the existing streets, dominating its surroundings and dwarfing the nationally important civic buildings which define this part of the city’.

The future of the designs and who will replace Make remains unknown.

Gary Neville’s property company, Jackson’s Row Developments, and Stephen Hodder have been contacted for comment.

Readers' comments (1)

  • If these towers are (were?) the architectural manifestation of rocketing city centre property values, and if such monstrous and discordant stuff is permitted to impose itself on the human-scale close grained character of areas such as around Jackson's Row, then God help Manchester..
    There obviously is scope for redeveloping some buildings, but surely it should be carefully designed civilised urban infill, not this stuff.

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