Giggs and Neville skyscrapers ‘threaten Manchester’s heritage’

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Former footballers Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville’s plans to build two skyscrapers in Manchester city centre would “damage the city’s historic core”, a government heritage agency has warned.

Historic England said the former Manchester United footballers’ £200m plans would “erase” the area’s history and threaten its “precious heritage”.

Neville and Giggs are applying for permission to build two bronze towers that include a five-star hotel, luxury apartments, restaurants, bars, retail outlets and a synagogue.

The pair insist the work would transform the St Michael’s area near Manchester town hall and the Central Library.

But the proposals, announced last July, would lead to the demolition of a 1950s synagogue, a 1930s police station and a historically important pub.

Proposed Kinetic track from Princess Street to Albert Square, Manchester

Catherine Dewar, Historic England’s planning director for the north-west, said: “We are deeply concerned about how this scheme would affect some of Manchester’s most precious heritage.

“It would have an impact on people’s appreciation and experience of the stunning town hall and library but it would also erase different layers of this area’s history, irreparably damaging the special character of the surrounding conservation area.”

The 700,000 sq ft scheme includes a 200-bed five-star hotel, 153 apartments, 135,000 sq ft of Grade A offices and a synagogue.

The site will also include 30,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space, including two sky bars/restaurants, in the 31-storey Number One St Michael’s, while Number Two St Michael’s will be a 21-storey office tower.

Historic England said the design, height and colour of the development on Jackson’s Row would dominate the Deansgate and Peter Street conservation area and “dwarf the nationally important” Central Library and Grade I-listed town hall.

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Meanwhile an online petition to save the Abercromby pub – said to be the inspiration for the pub in BBC’s Life On Mars – has more than 4,500 supporters.

Dewar said: “A dynamic city like ours needs 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.

“It threatens Manchester with the loss of historic places that have soul and tell important stories about our city’s past.”

Speaking at Manchester town hall in July, Neville, 41, said he wanted the development to become the new landmark in the city.

The former England full-back, who is director of Jackson’s Row Developments, said: “Our vision is to deliver the biggest statement in architecture and development that Manchester has seen in modern times.”