Revised St Michael’s Tower: How Your Objections Will Shape Manchester’s Future

Today, the development group behind the St Michael’s Proposals has revealed significant changes to their development in the heart of Manchester City Centre, following a public backlash and large-scale objections to the Planning Consultation.

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How You Helped Change The City For The Better

10,000 signatures were made against this scheme with 1500 objections. Legal cases threatened and national heritage conservation groups were ready to assist the citizens. Local groups and individuals including  Manchester Shield, the Meteor, built-environment specialist Aidan O’Rourke, Councillor Joan Davies and property developer Mike Ingall all provided their criticism of the scheme.

Development of A Revised Scheme

After 75% of respondents objected to the formal planning application, which was developed by Architects MAKE, led by Ken Shuttleworth, leader of Manchester City Council was criticised for releasing a blog post on the City Council’s website stating that “some people just don’t like tall buildings”.

In April 2017, the development group hired architect Stephen Hodder to develop revised proposals. This ultimately led to MAKE. An announcement on MAKE’s website in June 2017 stated that their involvement had reached a “natural conclusion”. Make founder Ken Shuttleworth said:

“We’ve been totally committed to the evolution of the scheme and have continued to work on revised proposals, but we feel that the current direction does not align with our ambition for the site and it is right to step aside. St Michael’s is an important project for Manchester and we wish Gary Neville and his team every success in bringing it to fruition.”

What’s Changed? 

The Towers Become The Tower 

The two solid-form towers will now be replaced with one glazed tower which has been rotated 90 degrees, reducing the width and visual impact of the scheme. This design change reduces the impact of the tower from St Anne’s Square, which being to the south, it would have overshadowed.

The tower will be located to the west of the site, which features a lower ground level and is further from Manchester’s iconic Town Hall. To respond to comments about the tower’s height, the overall height has been reduced by 2 metres.

 

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The Previous Scheme Designed by MAKE Architects

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The Revised Stephen Hodder Design Which Will Be Subject To Public Consultation at Central Library Later Today

Activating The Street

The previously inward-looking aspects of the scheme which featured blank façades onto the surrounding streets and centred commercial units around ‘steps to nowhere’ have been replaced with active perimeter uses, which feature an improved fit to the geometry of the street. The revised proposal which is subject to consultation today (12th July at Central Libary) incorporates more ground floor commercial units. According to Architect Stephen Hodder this mean that “90% of the perimeter is now activated”.

Previous ‘Before and After’ Showing the Modernist Facade

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The Revised Scheme Showing The Retained Bootle Street Police Station Facade to the Left of the Proposed Sky Garden

Retention of the Abercromby Pub and Police Station Facade

Historic England described the initial proposal “aggressive” and leading the design to “cause substantial harm”. In response to English Heritage’s concerns about damage to the historic character of the Central Manchester Conservation Area, the Abercromby pub and the façade of Bootle Street Police Station will be retained. The previous scheme proposed the clearance of the entire development site and neo-modernist, solid-form facades.

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.

“We are happy to see that the front building of the former police headquarters complex will now be kept and that the Sir Ralph Abercromby pub will be incorporated into the development because although they aren’t listed, these buildings have soul and tell important stories about our city’s past.

“We also welcome the fact that there is now only one tower in the scheme which has been moved to a different part of the site, further away from the Town Hall, and twisted around. This change means it has much less of an impact on the grand civic buildings here, including the nationally-important grade two-listed Central Library, grade one-listed Town Hall, and grade one-listed St Ann’s Church.”

What Next?

The design is still emerging and a detailed scheme will be subject to another consultation in August of this year. A revised planning application is due to be submitted to the City Council later in this year, targeting a November Planning Committee. On-site works are then anticipated to commence in early Spring 2018.

 

 

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