Stephen Hodder of Hodder + Partners has been drafted in by Manchester City Council to conduct an independent review into the plans for St Michael’s, the controversial proposal for a 21-storey and 31-storey tower on Bootle Street.
St Michael’s director Gary Neville announced at MIPIM that he had asked the council “not to determine” the application for the £200m project that had been submitted in February, to allow for changes.
Designed by Make Architects, the St Michael’s scheme has been unpopular since conception; from the decision to demolish the historic properties on the plot, to the size of the towers which loom over nearby civic buildings, the choice of cladding material, and the scheme’s blank facades at street level.
Following the submission of the application, the council was understood to have received more than 1,400 letters of objection. Historic England declared its opposition, and described the scheme as “aggressive” and set to cause “substantial harm”.
St Michael’s includes a mix of offices, flats aimed at a “high end” market, a five-star hotel, and public realm. Planit-IE is landscape architect. Zerum is development adviser.
Manchester City Council is development partner, and until recently had been persistently supportive of the project. In October, council leader Cllr Richard Leese dismissed arguments against the scheme as “silly” and said “some people just don’t like tall buildings”. In the same month, former chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein insisted to Place North West that the designs were “appropriate” for the location. However, by March his position had shifted, and he said “the jury’s still out” on whether the buildings were of “sufficient quality”.
Hodder has been behind several large-scale residential projects in the city over the last couple of decades, including Student Castle, and recently a series of schemes for prolific developer Renaker. He was the chairman of the committee that produced the Manchester Residential Quality Guidance, and is a former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
All parties have been contacted for comment.