St Michaels New Facade January 2017

Make's proposals, revealed in 2016

Historic England wades in on St Michael’s debate

Historic England has confirmed its opposition to the two towers proposed by the St Michael’s Partnership for Bootle Street in Manchester city centre, calling the scheme “aggressive” and saying it would cause “substantial harm”.

The Government heritage agency has sent its objection letter to Manchester City Council, responding to the planning application for the scheme which was submitted last month.

The application seeks permission for a 201-bedroom five-star hotel, 159 apartments, 138,000 sq ft of offices and 49,000 sq ft of retail and leisure across 15 units, including two new sky bars and restaurants. There are also three areas of public realm, and a new building for the Manchester Reform Synagogue.

St Michaels St Peters Square ViewManchester City Council is development partner in the St Michael’s scheme, alongside former footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, and developer Brendan Flood. Make is the architect.

Momentum against the project has grown over the past year. A petition against the demolition of the Sir Ralph Abercromby pub on the site has grown to almost 5,000 signatures, while a petition against the planning application has reached 3,400 signatures. The Twentieth Century Society’s application to get the Art Deco synagogue listed was rejected earlier this week. Objectors are pressing for the project to be called in by communities secretary Sajid Javid.

The application is likely to go to planning committee in April or May.

Extracts from Historic England’s objection to Manchester City Council below:

“In our opinion, the development misses the opportunity to enhance this part of the conservation area, instead creating an inwardly-focussed development with little interaction with the surrounding streets. The form of the proposal responds aggressively to its context, in particular the relationship of the towers to the enormously valued group of Town Hall and Library and the spaces in which they sit.

“We remain of the opinion that the development would cause substantial harm to the significance of a number of heritage assets, including the nationally valued Town Hall and civic buildings; the harm is neither necessary nor justified in line with the National Planning Policy Framework.

“The brief for the proposed regeneration of the site is ambitious considering the relatively small size of the plot and includes a number of different uses. The proposed scheme involves total demolition of all buildings on the site causing substantial harm to the significance of the conservation area. This harm must be fully justified if we are to lose these buildings.

“Where the existing buildings have a human scale which encloses the surrounding streets and relates well to the surrounding built form, the proposed development offers aggressive, largely blank facades and a form of development that looks inwards to the new open spaces. By turning its back to the public street, the development misses the opportunity to bring the life and vitality to the streets that is so needed.

“The appropriate dominance of the Town Hall, as the core of Manchester’s civic identity and pride, would be negatively affected in both our long distance and more localised appreciation of the building, particularly from Albert Square as again illustrated by the kinetic views. The towers would also negatively impact on our appreciation of the Albert Memorial. Our appreciation of the beautiful Central Library would be harmed by the two towers looming behind it when experiencing it from the south.”

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I wouldn’t mind if they were glass façade towers but this looks like something out of a science fiction film. The cladding is oppressive and the shape is disgusting.

By jk

Let’s hope this keeps HE busy and out of Liverpool for a good while.

By Man on bicycle

Good to see the media coverage yesterday, confirming the concern and massive opposition to the severe harm that would be done to the historic centre. The Times today says – “the council leader…has made his allegiances clear”… “government should step in”
To object to the planning application, please click though here:
To ask the Government for an independent review of the plans, which don’t fit the Council’s own planning policies, and in which the Council is not impartial, please email the North Team at, quoting St Michael’s ref: 14664/FO/2016
Thanks, Lesley 🙂

By Lesley

For once – BRAVO, Historic England.

By Hokey Cokey

Build them on that plot of land near the village that has been empty for years. They would suit that area much better. Or put them in Lincoln Square.

By Elephant

A glass façade would indeed be much better, and reflect back images of the town hall and central library.

By No 1

It’s in the wrong place entirely. End of.

By .

When something has this huge level of opposition, why do 2 footballers seem to think that they know better and have the right to carry on regardless?

By Stephen

@ Stephen – because they know they have high level council backing. The design complies with the Strategic Regeneration Framework which has already been endorsed by the council.

In typical fashion there was little scrutiny of the SRF which would have been prepared by the council and developers with a token public consultation and rubber stamped before the building designs – and the full implications of the SRF became public. In this way it allows the council leadership and developers to effectively circumvent the planning process.

People are becoming wise to the Trojan Horse that are SRFs now though – I don’t think they’d be able to get away with it again after the debacles of St Michael’s, First Street and Great Northern.

By Stitch up

Glass even higher YES, but NOT THIS ……ARE THEY LISTENING???

By Schwyz

Nothing wrong with this develop IMO. Which is all that this article is, plus the very one sided comments. Manchester is a progressive city – always has been. This is simply a layer of history. If the existing building in that very hidden and underused part of the city were of any architectural or historical importance, they would be listed! They are not! Get over it, we live in a city trying to compete on the world stage – these types of developments will get built in this city! FACT

By One sided

Looks pathetic

By Dontmakemelaugh

Why not build something like this in the middle of that shower of sh*t that is First Street? Goodness knows that desperately needs something down there.

By Loganberry

…talking about ”consultations” with the general public, Gary Neville and his team have already made one major concession. Both Towers exteriors will now be reclad in bronze/copper ,replacing the original black exterior. I am delighted by this change….I was not keen on the original black cladding but the copper/bronze effect will blend in very well with surrounding buildings. Personally, I consider the two Towers aesthetically beautiful and will become iconic Manchester landmarks. Far too many buildings erected in the City Centre in the last 20 years have that dull, ”anycity” look about them and Manchester needs more modern/post modern iconic buildings similar to the Neville Towers.

By Anthony Fallon

We don’t want Luxury hotels and skyscrapers in the North West, leave that to progessive cities like London and Melbourne, were stuck in our ways and we like it.

By Ahh

Progressive cities build skyscrapers and understand the value of their heritage, protecting it from inappropriate development.

Manchester is demonstrating itself to be an immature city presided over by philistines who will happily see the very things that make the city distinctive and stand out from London and Melbourne erased for the latest shiny new status symbol.

I actually think most critics like the design of the towers – just not here in a conservation area and not at the expense of the last physical link to the Peterloo Massacre.

By Stitch up

They should’ve got Ian Simpson to design this.

By Simon

‘bring the life and vitality to the streets’… This is the key phrase here and this development fails! This is Manchester’s biggest problem generally… The Arndale has the same negative effect. They’d be daft to do the same again at Bootle Street, and so close to the town hall.

By Altmouth

I see Gary Neville is advancing a false argument in the Times in defence of his scheme saying that new buildings co-exist quite happily with old buildings in most major cities.

Yes Gary, they do. In fact this is seen very frequently in Manchester and to great effect too.

But this is a different case. You’d never find towers like this in such close proximity to St Paul’s cathedral or the Houses of Parliament or around Whitehall because they’d completely change the character of the area. The area around our Grade I listed town hall is no different; it would be defined by an incongruous hotel and office tower rather than the great civic buildings and their immediate context composed of buildings from a variety of eras, sympathetic in style and scale.

By Stitch up

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