Government confirms St Michael’s all-clear

The controversial Manchester city centre development is to go ahead after Secretary of State James Brokenshire notified the St Michael’s Partnership that the application will not be called in for a public inquiry.

Due to its proximity to Manchester Town Hall and the city’s civic quarter, the £200m scheme attracted fierce criticism, with the initial proposal, featuring two towers, being withdrawn before the scheme was redesigned by Hodder + Partners.

Hodder’s reworked proposal, approved by Manchester City Council in March, features a single 39-storey tower. The scheme will include a five-star 216-bedroom hotel and 189 apartments, along with 148,000 sq ft of office accommodation, 33,000 sq ft of leisure space including a rooftop terrace and a boutique hotel in the former Bootle Street police station.

The retention of the station’s frontage, along with the Sir Ralph Abercromby pub, were two of the key differences in the reimagined Jackson’s Row scheme.

St Michael’s Partnership director Gary Neville said: “We are delighted that the Secretary of State has decided to not call in our revised plans for St Michael’s and that the vision for this landmark mixed-use scheme will be realised.

“It’s been more than a decade since the idea to regenerate a strategic city centre location was first considered, and our whole team is very pleased that we can focus on delivering this project for Manchester, bringing new high-quality development that will enhance the city’s position both nationally and internationally.”

The partnership said that the project will contribute more than £80m GVA to the local economy and £147m in government tax revenues over ten years. As well as Neville and fellow ex-footballer Ryan Giggs, the scheme is backed by developer Brendan Flood, Singaporean funder Rowsley, Beijing Construction Engineering Group and Manchester City Council.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of the council, said: “Investment in Manchester is crucial to support our ongoing regeneration and St Michael’s is a case in point for the type of high-quality development that our city centre needs.

“The Jackson’s Row area has been underwhelming and underused for too long and we welcome the decision by the Secretary of State to move this important project into the next phase.”

St Michaels Dec

Despite much of the opposition to the scheme being quelled by the changes to the project, dissenting voices have remained, including prominent Manchester architect Roger Stephenson, who described the scheme as “looming” and a “trophy project” to Place North West at March’s planning committee.

Nevertheless, the way is now clear for a start to be made, although Neville told Place at MIPIM that a start on site within 2018 is “unrealistic”.

Stephen Hodder, chairman of Hodder + Partners, said: “This development will regenerate a pivotal city block adjacent to the city’s civic core, and I applaud the evident passion, ambition and vision of all those behind St Michael’s. And that’s why I’m delighted that this significant project has been given the go-ahead.”

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