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Former footballers embroiled in heritage row over Manchester development plans

Former footballers embroiled in heritage row over Manchester development plans

Plans for a major city centre development in Manchester backed by former football stars Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs have been attacked by campaigners who have argued their blueprint will "erase" parts of the city's heritage.

The former Manchester United stars are seeking planning permission to build two skyscrapers as part of a £200 million development, with the 700,000 sq ft project including a five-star hotel with 200 beds, 153 apartments, restaurants, bars, shops and leisure space, offices and a synagogue.

However, it will mean the demolition of an old synagogue dating back to the 1950s, the former 1930s Art Deco Bootle Street Police Station and the Abercromby Pub, a bar whose drinkers were said to have witnessed the 1820 Peterloo Massacre and, more recently, was described as the inspiration for the TV series Life on Mars.

As well as destroying these buildings, the towers - 21 and 31 storeys high respectively - would dominate the skyline close to Manchester Town Hall, raising further concerns.

Objecting to the development, Historic England’s planning director for the north-west Catherine Dewar 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."

Speaking in July Mr Neville, who is a director of development firm Jackson's Row Developments, argued that the construction project would be good news for the city.

He said: "Our vision is to deliver the biggest statement in architecture and development that Manchester has seen in modern times."

It is not the first time Gary Neville has faced a planning battle. His Hotel Football development next to Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium had to overcome an objection from the club itself. 

Image: iStock


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