Belfast Telegraph

Watchdog criticises 'aggressive' Manchester scheme backed by Neville and Giggs

An "aggressive" multimillion-pound development in Manchester city centre backed by Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville will "damage the city's historic core", a Government heritage agency has warned.

Historic England issued an objection to Manchester City Council over The St Michael's scheme, saying its design - featuring two skyscrapers - will dwarf some of the best buildings in the country and involve the demolition of an important pub.

The former Manchester United stars said the development would deliver "the biggest statement in architecture" the city has seen in modern times and promised to create 1,000 jobs when they unveiled the plans.

However Historic England said the city "deserves better" and their application "shows how aggressively the proposed buildings would jar against the grand civic buildings which define this part of Manchester".

The 700,000 sq ft scheme includes a 200-bed five-star hotel, 153 apartments, 135,000 sq ft of Grade A offices and a synagogue.

The site will also include 30,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space, including two new sky bars/restaurants, in the 31-storey Number One St Michael's, while Number Two St Michael's will be a 21-storey office tower.

Historic England said the design, height and colour of the development on Jackson's Row will dominate the Deansgate and Peter Street conservation area and "dwarf the nationally-important" Central Library and "Grade I listed Town Hall".

Meanwhile an online petition to save the Abercromby pub - said to be the inspiration for the pub in BBC's Life On Mars - has over 4,500 supporters.

Catherine Dewar, Historic England's planning director for the north west, said: "We are deeply concerned about how this scheme would affect some of Manchester's most precious heritage.

"It would have an impact on people's appreciation and experience of the stunning town hall and library but it would also erase different layers of this area's history, irreparably damaging the special character of the surrounding conservation area.

"A dynamic city like ours needs to fully embrace development but this scheme is not good enough to justify the damage it would cause to the streets around the site and to the setting of the city's most important buildings and spaces.

"It threatens Manchester with the loss of historic places that have soul and tell important stories about our city's past."

The development was designed by Make Architects, which has delivered some of the most prominent buildings in the country.

Speaking at Manchester Town Hall in July former England full-back Neville, 41, said he wanted the development to become the new landmark in the city.

Neville, who is director of Jackson's Row Developments, said: "Our vision is to deliver the biggest statement in architecture and development that Manchester has seen in modern times."

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