Giggs and Neville face skyscraper backlash

Man United legends' plans for Manchester city centre decried by heritage agency...

Giggs and Neville face skyscraper backlash

Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville with their multimillion-pound plans to build two new skyscrapers in central Manchester. Picture by Danny Lawson PA Wire/PA Images

A planned high-rise development spearheaded by former Manchester United stars Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville has come under criticism from a British government-backed heritage agency.

Historic England has argued that the St Michael's project in Manchester, which will include two bronze skyscrapers, will "damage the city's historic core". It is concerned that the buildings will dwarf surrounding structures, stating that the Northern city "deserves better" and that the planning application "shows how aggressively the proposed buildings would jar against the grand civic buildings which define this part of Manchester".

Giggs and Neville have said that the development would be "the biggest statement in architecture" Manchester has seen in modern times. The 700,000 sq ft scheme would include a 200-bed five-star hotel, 153 apartments, grade A office space, 30,000 sq ft of retail and leisure, and a synagogue.

It will also involve the demolition of a 1950s synagogue, a 1930s police station and an 18th century pub.

Speaking to The Guardian, four heritage groups said they want communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid to look into the application and prevent a "substantial, unprecedented and unjustifiable degree of harm" to the city's heritage.

Catherine Dewar, Historic England’s planning director for the north-west, commented:

"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."

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.

While the two football stars have not commented officially on the row, Neville did retweet the following on Thursday...