Ken Shuttleworth’s firm Make Architects has withdrawn from the team behind the controversial St Michael’s scheme in Manchester city centre, with Hodder + Partners stepping in as lead architect.
In a statement, Shuttleworth said: “We’ve been totally committed to the evolution of the scheme and have continued to work on revised proposals, but we feel that the current direction does not align with our ambition for the site and it is right to step aside.
“St Michael’s is an important project for Manchester and we wish Gary Neville and his team every success in bringing it to fruition.”
Hodder was originally drafted into the project team in April, when Manchester City Council, a development partner in the £200m scheme, asked its founder Stephen Hodder to undertake an independent review of the project.
Footballer-turned-TV pundit Neville has throughout been the main spokesman for the development vehicle behind the scheme, which is backed by billionaire Peter Lim’s Rowsley. Neville announced at MIPIM in March that he had asked Manchester City Council not to determine the application for two towers, of 21 and 31 storeys, which had been submitted in February.
Neville said that his team intended to make alterations to the project following severe criticism – more than 1,400 letters of objection were reportedly filed, with Historic England among those opposed.
St Michael’s said that it is now focused, with Hodder, on working towards submitting revised proposals. In a statement it said: “In light of the overall response to the first proposal, it was clear that a different design approach was required.
“We reflected whether the original solution met the overall objectives for the site and Stephen Hodder was brought in as part of that challenge process. This led to an extensive review of the approach.
“Stephen Hodder’s involvement led us to a different philosophy which we believe will command a greater level of support and create a fantastic new development and destination in the city. The partnership thanks Make and in particular, Stuart Fraser and his colleagues for their work and wishes the practice well in the future.”