Gary Neville has confirmed that plans for the 700,000 sq ft St. Michael’s development will go ahead despite earlier reports claiming it had been pulled in the wake of opposition from local heritage groups.
The Guardian had previously suggested that Neville had pulled out of the £200m project after claiming his plans for the twin bronze skyscrapers had ‘failed miserably’, but this was something the former footballer was quick to dismiss by suggesting that original plans would instead be refined to ensure the final design is ‘perfect for Manchester.’
Speaking at the MIPIM international property conference in Cannes on Wednesday, Neville admitted that he had asked Manchester city council to hold off on considering the application in its current form with the project coming in for fierce criticism. It was previously revealed that three historic buildings would be demolished to make way for the luxury flats, hotels, offices and restaurants.
In a passionate speech, he said: “We want to meet the principles and values we set out and that’s to create a world class development for this city. There is no doubt that we haven’t pleased everybody over the last six to 12 months.
“We have been in consultation with bodies like Historic England and have tried where possible to listen, and we have made many many changes during the pre-application planning process, and I think ultimately today that we are currently asking the council not to determine the application.
“We are making final changes and we have to get this right.”
These changes could potentially mean that plans will be halted for up to another six months, with Neville joking that it’s longer than his career.
In its current state, the site which includes a 1930s police station and an 18th-century pub, is currently underused and employs just four people according to Neville. He claims the site will be transformed into a unique and modern 700,000 sq. ft. space that blends old and new harmoniously.
“I want to also be very clear on this, as it’s been a popular misconception. We are not blocking the view from anywhere to Albert Square and the town hall and I think that message has not come across.
“We are so passionate about it we believe in it, we know every detail, we can’t hide behind anybody, it’s what we want, we are the drivers for it.”
He also spoke about the importance of bringing a five-star hotel to the site and linking hospitality to residential living, something he said has not been done effectively in Manchester.
“Manchester deserves a world class development like St. Michael’s. We believe that in a city that aspires to be global, the best of old and best of new can live together. However, we are going to make further refinements. It has to be perfect for Manchester.”
The development, designed by Make Architects, will comprise a new synagogue, an internationally renowned five-star hotel, 159 apartments, grade A offices and three striking public and leisure spaces. It will also create an extra 1,500 jobs for the area.