Ken Shuttleworth’s practice Make has exited a controversial Manchester skyscraper scheme backed by footballers-turned-developers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs.
According to CN’s sister title Architects’ Journal, the practice has left the high-profile St Michael’s scheme for which it already revised its original concept following a number of public consultations.
There had also been widespread concern about the potential loss of three historic buildings in the city centre.
At the MIPIM property fair in March, Mr Neville admitted there would be further changes to the 31 and 21-storey towers and that he had also instructed Manchester City Council not to consider the original planning application.
It then emerged that Manchester-based ex-RIBA president Stephen Hodder had been brought in by Mr Neville and his development team to carry out a review of the proposals, which cover a site close to the city’s town hall.
Mr Shuttleworth had collaborated with Mr Neville on the project for more than 10 years – during which time he also drew up unrealised proposals for the former England defender’s home – although the first designs for St Michael’s were not made public until last summer.
In a statement released to the AJ, Mr Shuttleworth said he believed the practice’s involvement “had reached a natural conclusion”.
He 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.”
The plans, which feature a 201-bedroom hotel, 159 apartments and office space, had raised concerns over the future of the 1950s-built Manchester Reform Synagogue in Jackson’s Row and the nearby Bootle Street Police Station.
Both were scheduled to be torn down to make way for the Make-designed development and in January were named on The Twentieth Century Society’s top 10 list of buildings most at risk.
The proposed demolition of the Sir Ralph Abercromby pub in the former St Peter’s Fields, the only building remaining from the time of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, has also provoked local opposition.
Two major public consultations, minor design alterations and a change in colour of the towers from black to bronze did little to appease objectors to the plans.
A petition against the scheme, claiming the ‘huge dark towers’ are in the wrong place, received more than 4,500 signatures.
Historic England was also unconvinced by the original Make designs, saying it was deeply concerned about the proposal, which “would aggressively push itself into the existing streets, dominating its surroundings and dwarfing the nationally important civic buildings which define this part of the city”.
The future of the designs and who will replace Make remains unknown.
Gary Neville’s property company, Jackson’s Row Developments, and Stephen Hodder have been contacted for comment.