St Michaels Dec

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.

Your Comments

Read our comments policy here

Having read HE’s full letter I have to say I agree. The scheme itself isn’t bad, its just in the wrong location. City Council only have themselves to blame too. Not had a proper Tall Buildings Policy or strategic vision for the look/feel of the city centre for too long. Former CEX’s mantra of any development at any cost has come back to bite them.

By MancLad

Personally I think it will contrast wonderfully with the older buildings. If Manchester wants to be a modern thriving city it has to continually evolve – we’re not York. Furthermore, the developers have gone out of their way to appease a vocal minority against the initial scheme.

The unambitious 90s new build office blocks fronting Albert Square are far more offensive to the surrounding architecture.

I hope Historic England’s influence as a stakeholder is limited as they are increasingly out of touch with the needs of a modern city. Would they rather Great Jackson Street remains a dirty and unvisited back-alley. I doubt anyone on their board resides in Manchester City Centre.

By Alex

Will this saga ever end?

By Elephant

Historical England are absolute hypocrites. They readily allow the demolition of many historic, beautiful buildings that aren’t listed and claim they don’t have much value, yet with this St. Michaels scheme they’re actually restoring a derelict historic building

By Tofu

cont: and a city centre area that has had no development or signs of life for years! They only don’t like this development because they’re luddites and don’t like anything over 4 stories high.

By Tofu

Cut it into three square, pencil-slim buildings of different height with steep, pyramidal rooves, diagonally placed to Albert Square and they would enhance rather than detract from it.

By Tony Heyes

I agree with Alex. Manchester is not York or Edinburgh. We do not have a glorious cathedral or a gothic castle to show off. All our best buildings are Victorian. What exactly is there that warrants this polaver from Historic England? Lincoln square is an absolute mess.

By Elephant

MancLad has it right. The City Council have made this mess through the lack of an implemented policy. Citing the proposals for Great Jackson Street as a positive example, and demonising anyone who wants better as Luddites are both surprising and shameful. A progressive European city should have a tall buildings policy, and should be brave enough to control the scale of development in its historic core whilst promoting where such development would be positively welcomed. The Hodder scheme is a vast improvement on Make’s mess, but HE are rightly doing their job.

By Gene Walker

Actually gene walker, it’s the people like yourself who demonise others for liking modern architecture and those who genuinely believe buildings like these enhance spaces. The quality of this build is fantastic, however, nothing satisfies the nimbys like yourself who are have such a tunnel vision towards modern architecture and see only your own opinion.

By Tofu

I think it’s important HE have their say, but their opinion cannot be a veto. It’s undoubtable that an effort has been made to listen, and I’m happy with that.

I agree with earlier commenters – Manchester is not York. Most of Manchester’s beautiful old buildings cannot be seen from a distance anyway. The tip of the Town Hall is just about visible from Salford Quays if you have a posh flat, but that’s about it. Sunlight House doesn’t suffer at all from being near to 1 Spinningfields.

All these calls for a “tall buildings policy” are just veiled calls for fewer tall buildings. It’s easy to say “they should be somewhere else,” but the land values in those other locations just don’t justify it. You can’t just move demand by publishing a policy document, and people want to be in the city centre. Owen Street is only being built because it has good transport links near the Mancunian Way. If the demand was there for skyscrapers in Ardwick, they would already be being built.

I agree we shouldn’t have buildings taller than the town hall adjacent to it, but other than that it’s time to let go.

By Lin

So happy that Historic England are stating what should be obvious to the planners. It will totally ruin our beloved town hall and create a new focal point for every to see. On this occasion hopefully common sense will come through and stop this development from permanently ruining our city.

By Andrew Robinson

I agree with almost everything that has been said here, we aren’t York we do need tall buildings and a policy to go with it, but I still can’t get away from the fact that this is another hideous eyesore for Manchester. There’s plans for a number of skyscrapers across the city, surely if we are going to add them to our core they should be spectacular pieces of architecture which put Manchester on a European or Global map and not the first phase of Trumps Mexican border.

By Mr Manchester

If this gets stopped I will be very tempted to leave the country, Manchester is trying to look forward but unfortunately this is a backwards thinking country.

By Nap Eye

Agree with Tofu. Plenty of beautiful buildings gone without a second thought in the past.

For me, i don’t like how this towers over John Rylands Library but i don’t recall HE saying a thing

By RobH

They need to do a deal with the synagogue to accommodate them on a couple of floors – like the church at Cross St – they can then increase the floorplate and can be a bit more imaginative with the upper floors (which may not need to be so high).

By ChesneyT

I agree 100% with Historic England and the commentators who agree with its view. The area around the Town Hall is an historic part of the Victorian core of the City of Manchester. After all it as very much the Victorians that laid the foundations of what made Manchester one of the leading cities not only of he UK but in the World. The wonderful Alfred Waterhouse Town Hall must be protected from intrusive, out of scale developments. Nothing should over-shadow it. The City Council has made some awful mistakes in the past 40-50 years, resulting in the loss of much that should have been saved and improved. PLEASE, PLEASE, learn from these mistakes and reject this plan. There is a place for tall, modern buildings (such as the development planned for the area close to the Mancunian Way), but NOT in the Jackson’s Row area. Far from being out of touch HE is probably closer to what most people want than the majority of developers. Yes, Jackson’s Row does need an uplift, but not the out of scale ‘carbunkle’ proposed by the Neville’s. Come on Gary, admit this is an ‘own goal’ and go elsewhere, to develop another site. Come on Manchester City Council, have the courage to ‘show a red card’ to this ‘off-side’ proposal. Roy Chapman, MD, Lynwood Transtec Ltd.

By Roy G Chapman

Tofu – “They readily allow the demolition of many historic, beautiful buildings that aren’t listed”

Historic England do not ‘allow’ anything, they’re not the decision makers. In the case of non-listed buildings, they have no legal responsibility or obligation, so any concerns they might raise would have very little meaning.

By Sten

Hello Tofu. I am an Architect, who LOVES good modern architecture. Hodder’s scheme is hugely better than Make’s, but MCC have allowed this situation to arise, and the location and scale remain questionable. Great Jackson Street is a much better location for a cluster of tall buildings, but I suspect the quality of these and the place they (won’t?) make will be disappointing. Wanting the best things in the best places doesn’t make me a nimby!

By Gene Walker

This is a fantastic scheme, talls need to be built in the centre where they are most valuable.

By Architect

Gene, you claim to love modern architecture and yet you’ve not once praised a modern build or proposal, even putting in an uncessary bash at Great Jackson Street.

By York Street