Press release: SAVE tackles 31 and 21 storey towers proposed in Manchester’s civic heart

6 February 2017

Press release: SAVE tackles 31 and 21 storey towers proposed in Manchester’s civic heart

SAVE Britain’s Heritage has submitted formal objections to a highly contentious major development in Manchester City Centre. The proposal for two towers of 31 and 21 storeys is within a Conservation Area and next to the city’s historic Town Hall and Central Library buildings.

SAVE considers that if the proposal gets the go-ahead it will be a town planning disaster of a magnitude not seen in decades.

The St Michael's development, containing a luxury hotel, apartments and office space, would loom over and dominate the surrounding area, which contains some 72 listed buildings and nine Conservation Areas within 250m of the site.

The applicant’s own heritage statement concludes that, ‘the proposed development will result in major adverse impacts on the setting of the Grade I Town Hall, Grade II* Town Hall Extension, Grade II* Central Library and Grade I St Ann’s Square’.

As part of the proposals three historic buildings within the Deansgate/Peter Street Conservation Area would be demolished. All three buildings – a 1937 police station on Southmill Street, a 1957 synagogue on Jackson's Row, and an early nineteenth century pub  on Bootle Street - have considerable character and historic value, and their loss to the Conservation Area would be substantial.
The existing buildings appear to be in a reasonable condition and an imaginative scheme could retain them whilst also providing new development. Examples exist nationwide, many in Manchester, where similar buildings have been reinvigorated and given new leases of life with great success.

The plans for the site, designed by MAKE Architects for a joint venture partnership led by former Manchester United footballers Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, were first unveiled in July 2016.
A pre-application public consultation found that 70.4 per cent of those consulted (226 people) were opposed to the plans. National heritage bodies, including SAVE, The Ancient Monument Society, The Victorian Society, The Twentieth Century Society, and Historic England also provided detailed comments last year and expressed significant concerns.
Despite this clear opposition, the proposals submitted for planning are almost entirely unchanged. The colour of the towers has been changed from black to bronze, whilst the tallest tower has actually increased in height by 9m.
Henrietta Billings, Director of SAVE said: “2017 is the 50th year of the creation of Conservation Areas - an opportunity to celebrate the value of beautiful buildings that tell the story of our towns and cities. This wrecking ball approach - in such a sensitive location - makes a mockery of so-called Conservation Area and listed building protection. Any proposals for development on this historic site should work with and re-use the existing buildings - not destroy them.”
Marcus Binney, Executive President of SAVE said: “The revival of Manchester's historic city centre over the past 30 years has been a wonder to behold, with handsomely restored and reoccupied Victorian and Edwardian industrial and commercial buildings, and sensitive, innovative new architecture respecting the scale, grain and materials of city streets.  By contrast the current proposals for 21 and 31 storey towers, jammed up against architectural masterpieces such as the City Hall and Public Library, will be a town planning blunder and a blot on the centre of one of Britain's greatest cities of a magnitude not seen in decades.”
To comment on the proposals please contact Manchester Planning department before 17 February 2017 by emailing, quoting planning reference 114664/FO/2016 


Note to editors:

1. For more information please contact SAVE on 0207 253 3500 or

2. The St Michael’s joint venture partnership consists of former Manchester United footballers Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, businessman Brendan Flood, Singapore developer Rowsley, and Beijing Construction and Engineering Group International.

3. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architectural historians, writers, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.

Press release issued by SAVE Britain’s Heritage

70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ

Registered Charity 269129

Tel. 020 7253 3500  Email

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