Manchester United star turned property-mogul Gary Neville has delayed his £200m St Michael’s project in response to passionate public criticism.
Neville admitted that the scheme had “failed miserably”, but promised to adapt the “world class development”, which he claims that “Manchester deserves.”
“There is no doubt we have not pleased everybody,” Neville said, speaking at Mipim on Wednesday. “We have tried to listen and made many, many changes.
We have currently asked Manchester city council to not determine our application because we are going to make further refinements to the project.”
The St Michael’s project, which envisions two bronze towers in Manchester city centre, has received a great deal of criticism from both the general public and national heritage groups, including the Victorian Society and the Ancient Monuments Society.
Government heritage body Historic England warned that the skyscrapers would “erase different layers of the area’s history, irreparably damaging the special character of the surrounding conservation area.”
Indeed, the plans would call for the demolition of a 1950s synagogue, 1930s police station and an 18th century pub. However, Neville insisted in his speech that his scheme would allow old and new buildings to “live side by side.”
“We have been in consultation with bodies like Historic England and have tried where possible to listen, and we have made many many changes during the pre-application planning process, and I think ultimately today that we are currently asking the council not to determine the application.”
Having said that, Neville clarified that “the principles of design and height” would not be changed, despite the opposition that has focused on how the buildings would impact Manchester’s skyline.
The St Michael’s scheme, fronted by both Neville and fellow Man-U legend Ryan Giggs, was first announced last July. In addition to 153 luxury flats, restaurants, shops, bars and a synagogue, the scheme would also create a luxurious 5 star hotel.
A petition to ask the government to “step in and REFUSE the planning application for the two dark towers” has gained nearly 4,500 signatures.
“I work and socialise in Manchester city centre and think the history and uniqueness of the city is being lost by these glass soulless towers,” said one respondent. “To demolish historic buildings to make way for these is a crime. All to line the pockets of multi millionaire ex footballers. The council should be custodians of the history of Manchester rather than enabling its destruction.”
Stephen heads the team for marketing, media and research at Plentific. He loves sharing insight and advice for the home services market. He has a keen interest in property renovations after successfully completing a number of property projects.