Criticism against £150m St Michael’s gathers momentum

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

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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near 1900 signatures at present…

By name

We should be looking to increase density of central land, however the blank facade should be rethought as a vertical garden

By Simon

I’m more unhappy at the razing of the historically important buildings than the towers. The Abercromby in particular is the scene of one of the greatest political debates in British history. Where is respect for the men and women of Peterloo? Manchester treats this event with contempt to start with, with a pathetic plaque, instead of a proper memorial.

By Elephant

Square, thin towers like the Chrysler building would be better than gigantic gravestones.

By Tony Heyes

mancs are sick to the back teeth of being bulldozed out of the city by yet another luxury skyscraper pushing up land price and increasing homelessness and the symbolicaly priceless abercromby, the last survivor of peterloo has become the lightning rod in a city where wev always had a spare pitchfork ready to teach opressive vested elites a lesson.and for all the history thats been bulldozed not one first time buyer home or start up space for young buisness have we been given in return.this millionare ghetto preposal is a turning point.we the people are taking our city back

By debi manc

Debi Manc – I’m often criticised on here for “Manchester bashing”, but your post perfectly encapsulated my problem with what is happening here.

How much has all of Manchester’s regeneration actually benefited working class Mancunians? Seems to have just created middle-class enclaves in the city centre and the likes of Didsbury, largely inhabited by people from elsewhere. Change of policy needed.

By zebith

I’m not going to comment on this or any particualr scheme, however I cannot believe the nonsense comments on this website from what shoould be a readership of professional people:

“middle class enclaves” inhabited by people from elsewhere? Shocking, absolutely shocking. Should the middle classes apologise for having decent jobs and wanting to have somewhere nice to live and work?

Does Manchester really want to be a progressive place open for business, welcoming of visitors and to be seen as an exciting city on the international stage? Listening to the tripe that people trot out on this website I wonder whether these people are industry professionals (i.e. middle classes) or are folks that would ban progress and bring back spinning jenny’s and t’pits returning Manchester to a previous century…

“If we don’t build it they won’t come” – perhaps Manchester folk would prefer it if “outsiders” didnt come to what is a great city.

Dear Ed – can you change your commenting facility so that people have to log in and give their name and email address to you before they can comment? This may filter out some of the lazy rubbish comments we seem to get on what is a great industry focussed website.

By Unapologetic Middle Class Bob

it is easy to criticize. more so as anonymous keyboard warriors.
while Gary Neville is working hard and trying his best to contribute to Manchester,
what have you keyboard einsteins like what Mou described done for Manchester for the last 20 years ? beer in your hand and often in dreamlands ?
give Gary a chance . he is genuinely trying his very best to contribute to Manchester , a good example is his Hotel Football development
at least he is creating jobs ; what have you ?

By VanBasten

Thanks for your comment Mr Neville

By Imperator

Why is pointing out enclaves being a bad thing so shocking? The evidence is that its best to mix up and rebalance social classes.

Not asking any inhabitants of these places to apologise for anything, indeed I pretty much meet the description of being a “middle class person from elsewhere” myself. I am not a Mancunian, and I am shocked at the growing disparity between the Spinningfields of this world, developed for wealthy outsiders to Manchester, and the dire circumstances of so many born and bred in the city.

What on earth are you talking about with spinning jennys and pits? Are you suggesting that is all Mancunians are good for? My point is, these sorts of developments occur, and provide for the wealthy but don’t actually create new wealth for ordinary people locally.

So is Gary Neville ‘contributing’ (i.e. giving) or is he ‘investing’ (i.e. expects more out than he puts in)? I thought it was the latter. Hotel Football is a great example of a corner-cutting shabby cash-in.

By zebith

Why BLACK????

By Schwyz

I like what Gary presented seriously. I thought they should build it higher though.
At 31 floor, a Sky Bar would be nice, but comparing it to The Vertigo Rooftop Bar in Bangkok (61 floor), well… : )
The views would be breathtaking, and Manchester as an aspiring mega city like New York or London needs more of such establishments.
By the way, just asking, at 31 floor, can we see Old Trafford Football Stadium lights up at night ? : D

By Carmen

Carmen, yes, you’ll be able to see Old Trafford stadium lit up.

Once you get above circa 10 or 12 floors in Manchester you can generally see circa 8 to 10 miles.

From the proposed towers at St. Michael’s it’s only 2.10 miles to the centre spot of Old Trafford.

By Mizzer

I hope the NIMBYs don’t get this blocked, Manchester is moving forward, this is the second city, not a museum.

By Hugh

The best cities understand how to preserve and respect their heritage alongside ambitious new development. Flattening one of the few remaining buildings that bore witness to the Peterloo massacre is just unbelievably crass and paradoxically, is not something a modern, forward thinking, aspiring world city would countenance. Enlightened places understand the value of their heritage.

By Progress

In fact you can see about 30 to 40 miles as you can see the mountains and hills of the Pennines and likewise of North Wales. But you know what I mean: barring what’s looming behind the horizon you can generally see 8 to 10 miles, I think. I’m sure Zeb will be along to critique this comment.

By Mizzer

Such development in Manchester is highly important – but there must be some overall planning to the location of these outsized buildings. If someone was propose dropping a skyscraper two streets up from the Houses of Parliament, or on Whitehall, or in place of the Red Lion pub in London… there’d be a national outcry. Manchester has space and more appropriate places for such buildings, there is no need to sacrifice your heritage for each skyscraper that comes along…

By Dan

Zebith, these developments that you constantly critisise are slowly but surely making Manchester the best city to live in in the uk. Regeneration takes years but Manchester is well on the way and the benefits of the Council’s progressive policies are all around us and I’m constantly surprised that you fail to see them. Can I ask, what do you do for a living? Do you contribute to Manchester in any significant way? Maybe you do and if so I’ll happily take it all back.

By Carzi

Carzi – Zebith’s posts come with a health warning not to take seriously being one of a handful of scousers to post consistently negative stuff under articles relating to Manchester. Silly football-rivalry mentality that I’d hope wasn’t a feature of a site aimed at professionals.

By Progress

Its only getting better for those who can (already) afford to live in these sort of developments. Its not a nice city to live in.

I’m a planner.

By zebith

Who mentioned football? Manchester’s got a lot going for it, economically speaking. As a place to live, its massively overhyped. As development professionals, we benefit from it, so we probably overlook this.

My overriding aim to point this out.

By zebith

Well said, Progress and Dan. Manchester lacks any clear direction from our civic leaders in terms of large scale development. If this goes ahead as planned, we will all come to regret it.Time for a major rethink Gary.

By Gene Walker