As viewed across Manchester Town Hall

How St Michael’s towers could look

As the pre-planning public consultation into the controversial towers proposed in Gary Neville’s development between Deansgate and Albert Square in central Manchester draws to a close, Place North West has produced a series of mock-up images to see how the new additions to the skyline might look if built.

Today is the last day of the consultation round before Neville and his partners conclude their planning application for the 700,000 sq ft mixed-use project on Bootle Street. Make Architects is retained to design the scheme.

The two high-rise towers have met with local objections and thousands of signatures have been gathered on petitions against the scale and location of the towers, set to rise to 21 storeys and 31 storeys in a largely mid-rise heritage area.

So far little detailed imagery has been released by the developer. The unauthorised visual models shown in the gallery below were produced by Place on Google Sketchup and Google Earth using photographs and the few artists’ impressions available.

Click image to launch gallery

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 Michael’s is funded by a £150m consortium deal with Singaporean-based Rowsley and Beijing Construction Engineering Group.

Developer's own CGI of proposed scheme

Developer’s own CGI of proposed scheme

Objections have also come to the decision to demolish historic buildings on site, including the historic Sir Ralph Abercromby pub and the close proximity of such imposing modern blocks to Manchester’s main civic buildings, the Town Hall and Central Library.

A petition set up by former English Cities Fund chief executive and Great Northern Tower resident Lesley Chalmers has passsed 2,000 signatures and another to save the pub has passed 4,000 supporters.

Download and respond to the consultation

Your Comments

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They really are hideously inelegant.

By Tony Heyes

I can’t understand why PNW have done this. PNW is not the developer here or the agent and it is not their place to be helping Mr Neville et al out. In any event, they are not verified photomontages so we cannot give them any weight whatsoever.

By J Cena Esq.

Bit strange for Place NW to go to the effort of producing these and putting a link to the petition. Is Place officially against the development?

Should be.

By zebith

I have no issue with this development. We live in a city, a forward thinking developing city and we cant restrict developments like these just because some people don’t like it. Cities develop, they grow and they evolve – we need to be precious about or history yes, protect our listed buildings, yes. The Sir Ralph Abercrombie pub is of no significant architectural or historical merit. If it was, it would be listed! Get it built!

By Concered

Fantastic proposal, get it built.

By Anthony Brady

Concerned, just because somebody has the money to do something doesn’t mean it should be done. Far more people, who won’t benefit from this development, are against it, than those who will. It looks awful.

There are much better things that could be done with this fantastic part of the city centre.

By zebith

Concerned thinks the Abercromby is of no historical importance. So that would suggest then that the emancipation of women, the Industrial revolution, the formation of Trade unions, the initiation of Free trade, the writing of the Communist manifesto, the oldest library in the English speaking world, where Rolls first met Royce and the splitting of the atom, should have buildings connected to them, which are all in this city, bulldozed to make way for buildings like this. Perhaps we should also remove Lincoln’s statue, which was erected for the support given by Lancashire cotton operatives in their solidarity with the slaves of the Southern states of America. Or knock down Manchester University, even though it has won more Nobel prizes than most countries.

By Elephant

Looks lovely ! lol

By Jan

Concered (I don’t think that’s what you meant to type)- The Sir Ralph Abercrombie definitely has historical merit, and assuming that these montages are reasonably accurate, the visual impact on Albert Square would be disastrous. Yes, St. Michael’s needs redevelopment, but it doesn’t need to be like this.

By Gene Walker

A very important site that needs developing, but it needs a whole redesign and less massing that close to the town hall. The buildings aren’t listed but those around it are, so it needs to be more sensitive to this, this kind of architecture could be anywhere in the world. Has to happen but as an “innovative” city we can do better.

By Mr Manchester

Can we have a view of them dominating / bursting out of the Central Library and ruining the view up from Oxford Road. Did MCC learn nothing from the ARNDALE tower? Piccadilly Tower? Hardly key in regenerating areas in long term.

By Mark

You might want to study views at street level. That would give a more accurate representation.

By Dave McCall

Can’t understand the sentiment for a failing back alley pub. A development such as St Michaels will breath life into a small area of Manchester which really needs improvement. Has anybody taken an evening stroll down Jacksons Row or Bootle Street recently?

Sure both towers are high rise buildings, but still some way off Beetham’s 47 storeys.

By Anon

I like the idea with the stepped public square but I can’t forgive how it will look from Albert Sq, it’s horrendous! Scheme needs a total redesign.. the towers already look dated.

By Hmm

This proposed development lies within the Deansgate/Peter Street Conservation which abuts both the Albert Square and St Peter’s Square Conservation Areas.

The Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 defines Conservation Areas as “areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance.” Local authorities have a statutory duty both to identify such areas and then, once they’ve designated them as Conservation Areas, to pay special attention to the desirability of “preserving or enhancing” their “character or appearance” when carrying out their planning functions. This means that they must take account of this in all their planning policies and development control decisions.

By no stretch of the imagination can these proposals be said to “preserve or enhance the character or appearance” of the area. It beggars belief that the either the developers, or the Council planning and regeneration officers with whom they will have been in discussion, can seriously believe they do. They demolish three architecturally or historically significant buildings (the Police station, Synagogue and Sir Ralph Abercromby pub with its historic link to the Peterloo massacre) and replace them with two massive towers which in size, shape, height, mass, bulk and materials in no way reflect or relate to the existing character of the area. In fact they radically change and transform its character and indeed the character of adjoining Conservation Areas since the towers will impact on views of the Town Hall clock tower from many viewpoints around the city centre. Some people may like the transformation or prefer it to what’s there already, but that isn’t the point. The Council designated the Conservation Area and now have a duty in law to “preserve or enhance its character or appearance”. The towers might be fine elsewhere in the city centre but are grossly inappropriate to this particular site.

The proposals are even more astonishing given that only a few yards away in St Peter’s Square developers and the Council have created new buildings which, although completely modern in style, nevertheless in size, shape, height, mass, materials and detailing, clearly enhance the character and appearance of the square. This just shows it can be done.

If the St Michael’s proposals go forward to the Council as planning applications, then I think the Secretary of State should be asked to ‘call in’ the applications for decision by her. This would lead to a Public Inquiry where the pros and cons of the proposals could be fully and properly considered. Anyone can ask for a planning application to be ‘called in’ though obviously the more people who do so, the stronger the pressure on Government. These ‘calling in’ powers are used less often nowadays than they used to be and in general the Secretary of State only uses them if “issues of more than local importance are involved”. I think the St Michael’s proposals in their present form do indeed raise such issues since they clearly flout and make a mockery of both the letter and spirit of conservation legislation.

By Ian Christie

The buildings look great and impressive. If Only they can build it higher, say 81 Storey 61 Storey , that would be ultra impressive.
Imagine ourselves sitting on the Rooftop Skybar looking at the wonderful views, WoW !
(much like the Vertigo Bar in Bangkok)
Manchester needs to be forward looking if it aspires to be a mega, global city like New York , London, Tokyo.

By VanBasten

New York is a great example of how large developments can be accommodated next to historical buildings. We have a Listed Building system for a reason and these building aren’t of sufficient merit to warrant that. Yes its in a conversation area and another layer of history, like we have across the whole city center, is fine here – in my opinion. I respect other peoples opinion on here – but if we are seriously trying to complete with other world cities, we cant stifle these types of development.

By Concered

this would be fine in another part of the city nobody would object, its the blindly egotistical insistance on dumping it THERE that gives it that spinal tap farce quality. if this had been one entrant in a public free competitive tender process instead of vested interests marking their own homework it would have been humainly put down in the stationary cabinet.thats why the people of the city of free speech and free competition have such a problem with it. its like the designers dident know what this site was,or did this as a joke, or worse,they dident see the joke coming!

By debi manc

Looks good. New York is an excellent example of bigger, higher, faster and with a mix of wonderful historic buildings to boot. Come on guys where’s the aspiration!

If it was down to the one or two moaners then most of the city centre would still be fields.

Good to see most comments are pro development for Manchester.

By NYC Fan

The original plans were nothing like these , they have had to change them to fit in with what the Council wanted , more apartments equals more Council Tax , at least they look better than the Hilton Hotel .

By Barny

Horrible! Tearing through the core of the historic civic quarter!

By Redesign

Probably the most difficult and divisive scheme we’ll ever see in Manchester… yes those skyscrapers are a bit close to the town hall and it’s a shame to see that pub go.. but no development there isn’t a good thing as that area doesn’t half feel grotty and those narrow virtually-disused back streets sitting on what would be prime commercial and residential real estate just off deansgate just feels… wasteful. Everybody commenting so far has made very valid points, I’m leaning more towards YES than NO purely on the basis that another “quarter” would be great for Manchester and that area would be great for it… just depends how much it’d destract from “history” in the eyes of the majority.


Not a fan of the design, looks like a pair of 90s remote controls.

But to be fair to them, any development shown on google sketchup/google earth at this quality is bound to look awful. The impartiality of this article is absent.

By Triple H

Hideous. I cannot believe the council is going to allow these towers of gloom to dominate over Albert Square.

It’s quite right there is outrage over this and the council and Neville need to listen.

By Gavin Moore

Yes we need development, but this is just way over the top in terms of scale. The central zone should not be allowed to become a plaything for rich footballers and their financiers from the far east. Investments or washing dirty money?

By O51

Manchester is NOTHING like New York. Ridiculous to even mention it.

Just because people don’t want it (or want it here) doesn’t mean people don’t want *anything* built – so nonsensical to say the city would be fields if we listened to concerned residents.

By zebith

They would look far less offensive and intrusive if they referenced/echoed the shape and proportions of the Town Hall tower. They might then go even higher without blacking out the sky.

By Tony Heyes

HATE it..We deserve better in that location..Money talks….

By Schwyz

Manchester is never going to be a Megacity. It doesn’t have a big enough population to start with.Tokyo has a population almost half of Britain’s.This is one part of the city which doesn’t look like a Dog’s breakfast,with the exception of that hideous Lincoln Square.Bulldoze that and show off the Hidden gem.

By Elephant

Great scheme and the ambition has to be admired. Shame they didn’t spend a little bit more on the CGI’s.

By Chris