Former Manchester United star Gary Neville reveals development plans for Manchester site
The former United star, who has forged a career in property development in recent years, plans to demolish the former Bootle Street police station, Manchester Reform Synagogue and Sir Ralph Abercromby pub on Jackson’s Row.
The move is tipped to create more than 1,000 jobs.
The former United star wants to open up the ‘underused and unwelcoming’ block to create a new district between Albert Square and Deansgate dubbed ‘St Michael’s’.
The £200m plans would create two new open public spaces on different levels, linked by a huge 15m staircase, and spaced between two new 30-plus storey skyscrapers.
A new synagogue would be built, while it is understood a replacement for the Sir Ralph Abercromby could be incorporated and the jobs of the people working there protected.
The football pundit - who has already, with business partner Ryan Giggs , built Hotel Football at Old Trafford - said he was ‘excited’ about the ambitious proposals.
Mr Neville had been trying to redevelop the synagogue site for years but was thwarted by the economic crash.
Following the recovery he bought further options on the wider site - which sits between Jackson’s Row and Bootle Street - and entered into an agreement with Manchester council for its redevelopment.
He said: “To finally be here and to announce what we’re doing and what our plans are - I am excited.
“But now it gets real. The game has just started, if you like. The past nine years have been pre-match and now the game’s on and we have to deliver.
“Ultimately it will all be down to what we do in the next few years in respect of delivering this site and there’s obviously lots of obstacles to overcome, first and foremost the consultation side and the planning process.”
It is understood Historic England, which used to be English Heritage, is not impressed by the scale of the skyscrapers.
But Mr Neville said the only way to fit everything wanted by the council onto the site - while also opening it up and including considerable public space - was to build upwards.
He said for him the two plazas, to be known as St Michael’s Gardens and St Michael’s Square, were the stand-out part of the development.
“A large part of the site is usable to the public. That’s something that was driving us from day one and that’s what pushed us,” he added.
The most controversial aspect of the development is likely to be the demolition of the historic Sir Ralph Abercromby, said to have been the inspiration for the pub in TV cop show Life on Mars.
CAMRA and other supporters had tried to get it protected using a community order and launched an online petition to save it when the possibility of its demise became apparent.
But Mr Neville said he had been working very closely with the pub’s landlord.
“Obviously the Abercromby has gained a lot of publicity,” he said.
“The site will be cleared and the pub will be removed. We’ve been in dialogue with the landlord over the last six to eight months.
“We’ve spoken to him about his job about the job of his staff with respect to working with him to protect those during and post-construction because it’s important to us.
“This is Manchester and the idea of taking a fellow person’s job is not something that appeals to me.”
But he said the block was currently underused and unwelcoming, adding that he was looking at the ‘wider picture’.
“Those streets are disused, they’re derelict, they’re not particularly attractive streets,” he said.
The plans will be officially unveiled at Manchester town hall this morning. A planning application is expected in September, which will be subject to public consultation.
If successful work would begin on site next year.