A proposed multimillion-pound development backed by ex-Manchester United legends Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville has been branded “aggressive” and “damaging” to Manchester’s historic city centre.
Government public body Historic England voiced their concerns of the impact of the scheme and lodged an official objection to Manchester City Council over the two-skyscraper St Michael’s scheme, claiming the £200million project would “erase” the area’s history, threaten its “precious heritage” and demolish a culturally significant pub.
The former Red Devil stars are applying for permission to construct two bronze towers in the centre of Manchester that would contain a five-star hotel, restaurants, bars, luxury apartments, retail outlets and a synagogue. The pair say the development would be“the biggest statement in architecture and development that Manchester has seen in modern times” and promised the creation of 1,000 jobs when the plans were originally unveiled.
Catherine Dewar, Historic England’s planning director said, “we are deeply concerned about how this scheme would affect some of Manchester’s most precious heritage…it would also erase different layers of this area’s history, irreparably damaging the special character of the surrounding conservation area.”
Dewer went on to say “(we) need to fully embrace development, but this scheme is not good enough to justify the damage it would cause to the streets around the site and to the setting of the city’s most important buildings and spaces.”
Further objections to the development have come from fans of the BBC series ‘Life on Mars’, with more than 4,500 people signing an online petition to save the Abercromby pub – said to be the inspiration for the pub in the time travelling series.
Neville and Giggs aren’t the only footballers investing in property – last year DMZ reported on the Legacy Foundation, a regeneration charity led by West Ham footballers Rio Ferdinand, Mark Noble and Bobby Zamora. The charity plans to use £400million to create a series of social and privately rentable housing schemes near Luton, which will be backed by Aviva Investors.
Ex-Liverpool Striker Robbie Fowler created a buy-to-let empire after his retirement from football that was so successful he now has a property training academy, charging applicants £1,000 each to hear his property pearls of wisdom.
DMZ are slightly confused with the objections from Historic England.
It’s one of the first Manchester based projects that tests the mettle of the city and begs the question: does it want to become the true ‘second city’ or will it resist development and become increasingly vulnerable to being overtaken by other emerging UK cities? By showing resistance to schemes such as St. Michael’s the city is opening the door to competitors like Birmingham and even previous unfashionable areas like Hull – the UK’s City of Culture for 2017.
House prices in London are still cripplingly high for first time buyers, but the Capital’s Mayor is fully behind a number of development schemes as part of his ‘London is Open’ strategy. Manchester has the chance to elect a new Mayor in May this year, perhaps they should be looking towards a progressive candidate who would place his backing, and the backing of his office, behind such schemes as the one proposed by Neville and Giggs.