Historic England has refused to list a post-War synagogue in Manchester earmarked for demolition as part of plans to build a skyscraper for footballers-turned-developers Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville
However, the heritage organisation said it remained concerned about the impact of the Make-designed two-tower scheme close to Manchester Town Hall, which would see the destruction of three historic buildings.
Historic England was asked by The Twentieth Century Society in October to list the threatened 1953 Manchester Reform Synagogue in Jackson Row, designed by Levy and Cummings, which it desccribed as ’almost completely intact internally’.
The building, as well as the neighbouring 1937 Neoclassical Bootle Street Police Station and Sir Ralph Abercromby pub, will be pulled down to make way for the bronze-clad 31 and 21-storey blocks, providing a 201-bed, five-star hotel, 159 flats and offices.
Historic England said it was unconvinced by the society’s arguments and recommended that the minister for Culture, Media & Sport subsequently refuse listing. A spokesman for the heritage body said the synagogue was ‘not distinctive architecturally’ and – contrary to the Twentieth Century Society’s listing statement – claimed the building had been ‘subject to fairly extensive alterations’.
However the heritage body said it recognised the local importance of the synagogue, adding: ’We think [the destruction of the synagogue] and the demolition of two other unlisted buildings would harm the character and appearance of the conservation area, so it would have to be very clearly justified.’
The proposed demolitions would harm the character and appearance of the conservation area
Responding to the refusal to list the synagogue Tess Pinto, a conservation adviser at The Twentieth Century Society, said: ‘We’re disappointed by the decision, as listing would have given us more influence in the planning process and a stronger voice with which to argue for the retention of this fine building that has so much potential for re-use.
‘Nevertheless our campaign against the proposals, which will have a wider and devastating impact on Manchester’s central conservation areas and most important listed buildings, continues.’
Jgo stmichaels 28072016 03
Earlier this week it emerged that the society was calling on the Secretary of State to hold a public inquiry into the skyscraper plans. A petition against the project, which changed colour from black to bronze following public consultation, has amassed more than 3,200 signatures.
The project’s backers, Jackson’s Row, the trading banner of Gigg’s and Neville’s development company for the scheme, have been contacted for comment.
Historic England’s statement in full
‘We have carefully considered an application to list the Manchester Reform Synagogue and the Minister for Culture, Media & Sport agreed with our advice that it does not have the special historic or architectural interest to merit listing at a national level.
’The synagogue does have some interesting features, most notably the hand-painted stained glass windows which, unusually for a synagogue, depict full human figures and faces. It is also clearly of local importance, as it is thought to be the first new building constructed in Manchester after the Second World War, symbolising the reinvigoration of the city and the largest Jewish community outside London. However, the synagogue is not distinctive architecturally and has been subject to fairly extensive alterations over the years, meaning it does not meet the high criteria required for listing post-war buildings.
’We recognise the local appreciation for the synagogue and have been working actively with the developer and Manchester City Council on development plans which include the proposed demolition of the building.
‘We think this and the demolition of two other unlisted buildings would harm the character and appearance of the conservation area, so it would have to be very clearly justified.’