Criticism against £150m St Michael’s gathers momentum

A petition against two high-rise towers planned in Manchester city centre has reached almost 1,900 supporters in four days, while the St Michael’s development team has refused to comment on growing resistance to the scheme.

St Michael’s is being brought forward by a development company owned by former footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, developer Brendan Flood and Manchester City Council.

St Michaels towersThe 700,000 sq ft mixed-use project proposed at a prominent site on Bootle Street, off Albert Square, has been controversial since its inception, due to plans to demolish all buildings on site, including the historic Sir Ralph Abercromby pub.

However, after Make Architects’ designs for towers reaching to 21 and 31 storeys were revealed in July, the development came under fire for being inappropriately tall for a location so close to key civic buildings such as the Town Hall and Central Library.

A petition against the scheme, launched four days ago by Lesley Chalmers, former chief executive of English Cities Fund and city centre resident, has reached 1,900 signatures, with comments describing the proposals as “too imposing”, “hugely disproportionate” and “overbearing”.

A letter to the council accompanying the petition called the towers “grossly inappropriate”.

It goes on: “They are in the wrong place, out of proportion and overwhelm everything around them, including the Town Hall, Central Library and both old and new buildings in the city centre.”

According to Chalmers, 95% of signatories are from Greater Manchester or commutable locations.

A petition launched in July to save the Abercromby pub has gained 4,250 signatures.

A pre-planning application consultation is open for comments until 27 September, after which an application will be submitted to Manchester City Council. If approved, a start on site is planned for next year.

St Michael’s is funded by a £150m consortium deal with Singaporean-based Rowsley and Beijing Construction Engineering Group.

There was no response from St Michael’s or Manchester City Council when asked for comment this morning.

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