PICTURES | Neville unveils St Michael’s towers

Footballer-turned-developer Gary Neville revealed a series of artist’s impressions for the St Michael’s development at a press conference this morning, and confirmed all buildings on the 1.8-acre site would be demolished.

A 700,000 sq ft scheme is proposed on the plot between Jackson’s Row, Bootle Street and Southmill Street, brought forward by a development company owned by Neville, Ryan Giggs, developer Brendan Flood and Manchester City Council.

Designed by Make Architects, the project would centre around two towers of 21 and 31 storeys. The buildings would be surrounded by three interconnected pieces of public realm, designed by Planit-IE. There would be 150 apartments, a 200-bedroom hotel, and 135,000 sq ft of offices.

ST MICHAELS SQUARE TOWNHALL]_02The structures currently on the site include the former Bootle Street police station, which has a Portland stone façade fronting Southmill Street, the United Reform Synagogue on Jacksons Row, and the Sir Ralph Abercromby pub on Bootle Street.

While the synagogue will be replaced, the clearance of the other buildings has been controversial, in particular the popular Abercromby pub.

According to Neville, while the former police station “had no great architectural merit”, due to the community interest in the pub, the historic bar would be retained and “accommodated within the new scheme”.

Neville said that while the design team “initially went through the process of working with the existing buildings, it became impossible”.

He continued: “We do not want to take away people’s employment, so the 10 jobs will be protected. We have a commitment to the landlord and staff to protect their jobs during the construction process, and afterwards, the bar of the current Abercromby pub will be accommodated within the new scheme, and that’s an absolute commitment.”

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

A planning application has been submitted, and approval is expected by the end of the year, with a start on site in spring 2017.

The upper square, which will be known as The Garden, will offer 11,000 sq ft of public space with room for alfresco restaurants, and would be the venue for all-year-round entertainment, aided by a large retractable roof.

Linking the main St. Michael’s Square to The Garden will be The Steps, a 15-metre high architectural staircase. A passageway will be provided underneath The Garden in order to provide direct pedestrian access through from Bootle Street to Albert Square.

Zerum Consult is development manager and planning consultant.

Ken Shuttleworth, founder of Make, said: “We have designed two slender, elegant towers for the site, which sit very much as a pair using the same sleek black aluminium cladding, yet with differing heights and arched crowns. Their appearance will change as you move around the city. Together they provide a dynamic addition to the skyline that will position the scheme in Manchester both physically and within the marketplace.”

A public consultation exhibition will take place at the beginning of September.

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Can’t wait for those steps to be full of half eaten take aways on Sunday morning and other detritus in true Manc style.
The towers look okay, but it looks like a railway station entrance. Sad about the police station,as it has featured in so many films and tv programmes, including Hell is a city.The Abercombie going is an insult to the people of this city. Maybe Mr.Giggs would be happy to see the site of the birth of Owain Glendower in his native Wales flattened for a grey block,because this is one of Manchester’s great politically iconic buildings. The Peterloo massacre is part of this city’s remarkable political and industrial history and in my view is under represented within the fabric of the city. There was talk to rename Piccadilly station, Manchester Peterloo, but this seems. To have been forgotten.I am actually saddened by this.Saving the bar is a patronising attempt at compromise.What next, the destruction of Mrs Pankhurst’s house, for a faceless block. The Abercombie is only small. It could have been incorporated.

By Elephant

Scheme looks fantastic and a welcome addition of quality to Manchester city centre which is heading towards being a truly international city…

By Only way is up

I hope I live long enough to see this mindless greed-fest demolished as an utter failure.

By Steven Jones

Who’s Owain ‘Glendower’? Concentrate more on your Google searches Elephant. It’s Glyndwr.

It’s unfortunate the images lack context – positioned to look in or look out – very difficult to understand the relationship of the proposal with the adjoining built form and how the scheme links with this part of the city. Cant see Gary, Giggsy or Make making a hash of this ambitious project – looking forward to the (very much welcomed) consultation to understand more.

By Vicarinatutu

I was initially shocked by the visuals when I first looked at them but actually now really like the design. It’s interesting, innovative and looks high spec, unlike the usual boring offering from Simpson and Haugh. With regards to the Sunday morning detritus Elephant, the beauty of this development is that is privately owned and will be privately managed so I’m sure they will be cleaning the site on a regular basis, along with maintaining public realm areas.

By David

The building massing and heights show no regard whatsoever to the iconic civic structures of the Town Hall and Library, completely overshadowing them. It also creates a high car park/ utilitarian “wall” on the two streets facing towards Deansgate/ Peter Street.

Important views of and sight lines towards Manchester’s most important buildings should be protected, not obscured.

This area is comparable, in Manchester terms, to St Paul’s in London, where there are strict safeguards against new developments obscuring views of the cathedral. any presumption that these considerations can somehow be overridden in Manchester for the sake of pure commercial gain is appalling.

By Charles

Economically successful cities tend to have more taller buildings because of a scarcity of developable sites in the city centre. If there is a good chance of planning permission, because tall buildings are accepted/encouraged, land values rise and set new precedents. Owners of land and buildings only sell at prices that reflect the value of what can be built. This upward spiral will continue for city centre sites where buildings are not listed and are not in conservation areas. Neither Bootle Street Police Station nor The Abercrombie are listed, so they have no statutory protection. There is a conservation area that includes Albert Square and skirts the Police Station and synagogue but they are outside the area. It is understandable that people fear change and regret the passing of familiar landmarks but Manchester has been subject to wave after wave of change. There used to be a lot of heavy industry in the city centre including foundries and a railway engine works. Each era of change leaves behind new buildings. Some will be of high architectural quality and may be listed eventually. Others will be swept away in a few generations to be replaced by something else. Manchester is a city that has repeatedly reinvented itself and that shows no sign of changing. If buildings or settings of buildings are of truly special architectural character, we should seek to list them but most buildings are always ordinary and change happens.

By Fairly recently

Fairly recently – well said, excellent points !!!

By Only way is up

But the Abercromby *is* important as its one of only two remaining physical links to the Peterloo massacre and a rare example of a Georgian era building in the city.

By Ralph

The steps look very steep.

By Brian

According to Neville, the former police station “had no great architectural merit”, …. and his qualifications are what?
We have all shouted at footballers, and given our opinions, but we never expect them to be taken seriously.

By Ann Architect

Have to take issue with ‘ Fairly recently’ in respect of some of the points raised. Developers build upwards because of ego not land values – Prof Ellis at MMU used to have a fascinating series of lectures regarding urban settlement that taught Architects & landscape Architects it is actually possible to get more space in a low rise building with only a marginally wider footprint. If it were simply about increasing square footage of revenue more structures would be designed towards this model. Whilst I agree that Manchester has been subject to much change, this in itself should not be accepted as necessarily a good thing just because it happens, life always goes on – just with less quality and stability. For Mr Neville to describe the Bootle St Police Station ( and by association the Jackson’s Row Synagogue?) as having no architectural merit, only served to underline his- and others -singular lack of understanding, taste and appreciation of the delight of well mannered and proportioned buildings that reflect a quiet civic dignity and quality that this proposal of sheer vulgarity lacks in any way shape or form. What civic role does this proposal bring? All buildings have a duty to the landscape they inhabit and intervene within to create. The first principle of Architecture/ Landscape Architecture and Urban Design is “identify the user” before pen is even placed on paper. The Police HQ and Synagogue – and the Public House had clear identifiable uses, thus users, thus forms and purpose. That simply cannot be said of this confusing and garish mish mash. To also rely on the argument that the structures have not been listed- I would look at the pressure levered to prevent these very same structures having that protection in the first instance and where that direction originated from.

By Cassandra

Dare I suggest that the two Footballing / Property “Emperors” who are the “brains” behind this are perhaps looking a tad under-dressed ???

By Developer

I really like this build. The current area is depressing and derelict. I don’t understand why people are having such a huff about this pub, would you have even taken two seconds to bother or visit this pub had this development not been put forward? Pubs are in decline, irregardless of location and the city centre in particular is not an accommodating place for pubs, particularly in such a prime district. The economic boost of this proposal is immense and will create a thousand jobs, we’re lucky to even get such investment in our city! Manchester’s cultural and historical legacy is all around the city centre and the city as a whole, not a dingy, forgotten pub.

By Daniel

Vicar in a tutu. You knew who I meant. Stop being facetitious. The pub is small enough to incorporate into this development and the facia of the police station could be used as a satisfactory gateway to this development.Ridiculous to think that they are keeping all that tat around Lincoln Square. What strange people in MCC planning department.The towers do look good but They could have been built anywhere. They would have looked good on that vacant plot near the village.

By Elephant

Bring it on.

By Cheshire Boy

That elevated square looks draughty and dark.

By Dick Swiveller

Cassandra is talking poppycock. If she knew anything about development she would know increasing the density on a site brings more value, improves economies of scale and reduces the land value per unit hence making schemes viable. To get a bigger site you need to pay a landowner MORE money thus land value is a MAJOR issue.

By Only way is up

@ ‘ The only way is up’ here I have to disagree with you, based on 20+ years as a Chartered Architect specialising in Landscape Architecture & Urban Design and involved with designing within multi disciplinary practices for developers as clients. And, 9 we’ve had this before of course) Cassandra was the pen name of campaigning expose revealing journalist William Connor. HE was a chap as am I – last time I looked.

By Cassandra

Dearest Cassandra I think you missed the subtle poking of fun at your gender.

It would be fair to say that a designer/architect, chartered or otherwise even with 100 years of experience will still never understand a development appraisal.

Good architects stick to what they are good at, i.e. fantastic design and pushing design, the client and their business plan. Perhaps you fall within two stalls and understand neither.

By Only way is up

My eyes, my eyes!

– How odd to celebrate relentless flights of stairs in that way.
– How it meets the ground and the tops are quite something.
– Great pigeon ledges – someone is going to be rubbing their hands for the maintenance & cleaning contract.
-I take it the flat residents won’t have the option of opening their windows?
– Generic metal cladding demonstrates a laziness of thinking & lack of construction knowledge in this Part 1 level design.

Terrible stuff, even by make’s own very low standards.

By Ralph Kent

Ah dearest ‘ the only was is up’ ( such a shallow &vulgar little ditty) I fear you simply know the cost of everything…and the value of nothing.

By Cassandra

There seems to be alot of miserable old know nothings on this site. Your all stuck in the past. Your bland opinions mean nothing to the people of this city. Casandra xan you plz explain to me how you can possibly fit the same amount of space in a 10 story building as a 100 story building like you claim. The area these are being built in is a mess. The buildings have no architectural merrit and are simply old crap buildings that take up valuable city space whilst providing nothing to the city. Any one who thinks other wise is simply dumb. These new towers are stunning and any city in the world would be proud to have them.

By steste

Commenters – We very much value your contribution to Place North West, and encourage debate. However, if comments move towards personal abuse rather than a constructive discussion, or lower the overall tone of what is a professional site, they will be removed. Thank you for your co-operation – Deputy Editor

By Jessica Middleton-Pugh


“These new towers are stunning and any city in the world would be proud to have them”

You clearly don’t have a very sensitive eye for architecture, proportion, or even general building if you think that these buildings are stunning, but obviously not everyone is an aesthete.

I can assure you that if these were proposed in London, Paris, or any other world city the local design review panels would shoot them down in the manner that they deserve.

Perhaps Giggsy, Neville & their Chinese & Singaporean backers have picked on Manchester because they know they can get away with something second/third grade like this in England’s second / third major city?

By Ralph Kent

If maintained like Spinningfields the chavs will not leave it litter strewn…Shame about the Schul (synagogue) and the old pub….Could not save the Police Station façade???

By Schwyz

Aesthetics are a matter of taste (I don’t like it personally), but can we at least agree that THERE ARE FAR TOO MANY STEPS

By zebith

Neville and giggs. hang you heads in shame yes the new development looks good but am sorry but you need to incorporate the full Abercromby pub into the designs not just the bar it’s a piece of manchesters history. the council should hang there heads in shame if they give the ok to demolish the pub!
and yes we should have the approvers of the demolition orders published in the Manchester evening news to always remember who the desacrators of Manchester are!

By history always remembers

I really want to like this development but something about it irks me. Can’t quite put my finger on it.

By Alan Flixton

Gary Nevile and Giggs are just being exploited by a Singapore business man / consortium and they are all trying to fool us!!! What better way to get people on side then to front it by two Manchester legends (I’m a Utd yes they are legends!) with all respect to Neville and Giggs I don’t think they have a spare £150 million!! They might be putting in a bit of their own cash but it won’t be doubt they will be getting paid a decent fee to get it through planning and potentially built..would question if it is going to get built the £150million looks unrealistic from even looking at the visuals…

I’m all for development and moving forward and getting rid of the police station is the correct thing to do but the AB pub.. Tut tut. Embrace it into the development.. a tradditional Manchester pub incorporated into a shinny new development is better then trying to incorporate some shinny bar to look like a tradditional pub.

Also a lot of talk from Gary about creating jobs for Manchester people..why have you got a London based architect doing the design! There are some outstanding architectural MANCHESTER practices that could easily deliver the scheme…probably as they have a base in Hong Kong.

Stop trying to pull the wool over our eyes about Manchester this, Manchester that it’s not about Manchester…it’s about as making as much money as possible for your investors and outside of London where competition is fierce and construction costs ridiculously high Manchester is the best place to try and make those pounds…goodnight.

By Keep it real!

Surely the lower tower should be crowd funded social housing not yet more unoccupied offices? Are these two towers, which will ll domineer over two conservation areas, the legacy that Sir Richard Leese really intends to be his si monumentum requiris circumspice?

By Christopher J Green

Two points here. The scale of the towers has been driven not by land values but, as reported in the Guardian and elsewhere, the council (that is to say Howard Bernstein) pushing the developers to maximise the scale of the development.

And secondly, regardless of opinions on the merits of the architecture of the scheme, its unquestionable that these towers will have an enormous impact on the character of the area. We are talking about some of our finest buildings and our finest, most cohesive and most distinctive bit of city-scape here. This is a conservation zone for good reason. The sheer scale and dominance of these buildings can only detract from the very special character of this, the civic heart of our city.

And finally The Abercrombie (ok three points then). People really need to read up on the significance of the Peterloo massacre before glibly dismissing it as just another pub. Its value extends beyond the service it currently provides to its historic and cultural significance in terms of its links to an event that had a profound impact on political reform in our country.

Its been said before but the promoters of this project are utter philistines.

By mcr deserves better

People keep talking about the Abercombie, but lets not forget Tommy Ducks…..they said that shouldn’t be demolished and look what happened there…. JCB’s at midnight!

By Robbo