Ian Chalk Architects has drawn up alternative proposals for the Manchester site set to host Hodder + Partners’ contentious St Michael’s development.
The speculative scheme is being backed by SAVE Britain’s Heritage, which has been a vocal opponent of the skyscraper-led plans waved through by ministers earlier this summer.
Hodder + Partners’ designs (pictured bottom) – backed by former Manchester United footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs – were approved by city councillors in March.
SAVE has long campaigned against the scheme, which it has described as ‘crashing into the heart of a conservation area’. In June the heritage body expressed its dissatisfaction at housing secretary James Brokenshire’s decision not to challenge the council’s approval.
Now SAVE, working with London-based Ian Chalk Architects, has produced an alternative vision for the Jackson’s Row site, aiming to spark interest in a ‘conservation-led approach’.
These plans involve retaining existing buildings including a 1930s former police station headquarters.
A courtyard would be turned into a covered shopping arcade with hotel and residential accommodation above using a single-storey roof extension.
The existing arches of the police station building would be reopened to provide new access routes. A new public square would be shared by the Sir Ralph Abercromby pub and the Manchester Reform Synagogue.
Jackson’s Row, lined with listed buildings, would be pedestrianised. A new office building would stand opposite the synagogue on Bootle Street.
SAVE director Henrietta Billings said: ‘This concept clearly demonstrates that a conservation-led design really can preserve the special character of this part of Manchester, while also creating exciting new development that works within the historic context.
‘In every way it represents a gentle approach to regeneration, which in our view has a better chance of long-term sustainability by keeping options open for further similar developments as requirements for retail, office and residential accommodation change over time.’
Manchester Civic Society – which is leading a legal challenge to the council’s planning permission for the Hodder scheme – has backed the Ian Chalk proposals.
Chair Steve Speakman said the alternative would ‘vitalise the street scenes of Bootle Street and Jackson’s Row’ and that a pedestrian link between the two would be ’ripe for use by the large population of city centre workers’.
Twentieth Century Society director Catherine Croft added: ‘The SAVE scheme shows a radically different approach to this fascinating area. It illustrates how a conservation-led scheme can revitalise a key part of the city without the need to demolish important historic buildings and without blighting the setting of key listed buildings, including the library.’
The St Michael’s team refused to comment.
Hodder + Partners’ approved plans for a 39-storey tower in Manchester city centre backed by former footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs