Historic England ‘unable to support’ revised St Michael’s plans
Historic England has again raised concerns over Gary Neville’s £200m St Michael’s mixed-use scheme, despite a radical redesign, as the public consultation on the project draws to a close.
A planning application for the project was submitted in December and included a major redesign of previous plans, which included two high-rise black-clad towers designed by architect Make. Historic England had objected to the previous iteration due to the loss of the Bootle Street Police Station, the Sir Ralph Abercromby pub, and the impact of the towers on Albert Square and the town hall.
Historic England had also argued the previous scheme would cause “substantial harm” to the area.
The refreshed proposals by Hodder + Partners, revealed last summer, are for a single 39-storey lozenge-shaped tower, clad in bronze anodized aluminium.
The Abercromby pub and the façade of the Bootle Street police station will also be retained as part of the revised plans. A public consultation, running until 31 January, was launched in December.
However, Historic England has still raised concerns around the plans despite the extensive changes, particularly in regard to the tower’s impact on nearby buildings.
The objections raised amount to “less than substantial harm” under planning guidelines, less than the previous iteration of the project, but Historic England said it still would be “unable to support the application on heritage grounds due to the cumulative harm that would be caused to highly graded listed buildings.”
Historic England’s statement to planners said: “We acknowledge that the site has a potentially significant role to play in the regeneration of this part of Manchester. We have always recognised the need for enhancement of this particular area of the city centre, particularly in terms of providing connectivity through the block and more activity along the building edges.
“The proposed new development would in some ways enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area by creating new routes and active edges in a failing and impenetrable area.
“However, the proposed tower element in particular, would have a significant harmful impact on a number of highly graded listed buildings.”
Historic England’s statement also argued the proposed tower would have an “overbearing impact” Albert Square; and said it was “taller and closer than any others to the civic core”.
Overall, St Michael’s is slated to provide 189 apartments; 216 hotel bedrooms; nearly 150,000 sq ft of office space; retail and restaurant space, and a new synagogue.
The St Michael’s partnership is made up of directors and ex-footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, Manchester City Council, developer Brendan Flood, Singaporean funder Rowsley, and Beijing Construction Engineering Group. Zerum is planning advisor.
St Michael’s has been contacted for comment.