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Posted on July 12, 2017 by staff

New plans in for Gary Neville’s £200m Manchester development

Plans have been resubmitted for Gary Neville’s controversial St Michael’s development in Manchester city centre, after admitting original designs for Jackson’s Row were ‘flawed’.

The Sir Ralph Abercromby pub will no longer be bulldozed “in recognition of its emotional importance”, and the former Bootle Street Police Station frontage will be retained.

There will also only be one 134.5m-high tower, rather than two, which will be slimmer and less obtrusive when viewed from St Anne’s Square.

Replacement designs are being unveiled at Central Library today.

The former Manchester United footballer revealed there would be a temporary hold-up on the £200m plane during a prime slot at Manchester’s pavilion at MIPIM, in Cannes, earlier this year.

New architect Stephen Hodder ‘started with a clean sheet of paper’ after the council requested the project be reviewed in February following objections from official bodies and the public.

Historic England warned plans would create ‘high level of harm’ to the setting of the nearby town hall and Library.
The organisation has initially welcomed the new plans as ‘positive’.

As with the previous development, it would create an estimated 1,500 new jobs, many in the hospitality, hotel and retail trades.

Speaking ahead of today’s public exhibition, Gary Neville said Historic England’s objections to the plans that had ultimately forced a re-think.

He admitted its verdict had been ‘damning’.

The partnership is made up of directors and ex-footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, Manchester City Council, developer Brendan Flood, Singaporean funder Rowsley, and Beijing Construction Engineering Group. Zerum is planning advisor.

Neville said his team had known ‘pretty early on’ that the plans had gone ‘too far’.

He added: “On reflection it had flaws. I wanted to reach for the skies on the first scheme and basically it polarised opinion.

“It was important that we got it right and while we believed in the original scheme, we have taken the opportunity to reflect on how we deliver the best possible proposal which balances generating the maximum economic benefits for the city and job creation, and our architectural ambition, with heritage and conservation.

“We did not shy away from the passionate debate around the original proposals but instead embraced it in a positive spirit and addressed some of the issues raised head-on.

The previous scheme centred around 21 and 31 storey towers, made up of a mix of flats, hotel and offices, and drew fierce criticism due to plans to demolish all existing buildings on site, as well as the height so close to historic civic buildings.

Cladding colour, lack of active frontages at street level, and difficult access to raised public realm also attracted objections.

Historic England described the earlier iteration of the project as “aggressive” and set to “cause substantial harm”.

Catherine Dewar, planning director in the North West for Historic England, said: “We strongly believe that this extraordinary area of Manchester deserves a thoughtful scheme which responds to its surroundings, contributes to the neighbouring streets and welcomes people in.

“The new proposals are much closer to achieving this and have the potential to enhance the character of the Deansgate/Peter Street conservation area, rather than dominate it, as the previous scheme threatened.”