They made their name with illustrious careers at Manchester United football club and they have since gone on to business success. The names of Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville are central to the history of Manchester football but it seems their reputation has done them no favours with a significant backlash against their Manchester city centre property dream. So, why has the Giggs and Neville Manchester property dream provoked such a backlash?
A £200 million redevelopment scheme
When the scheme was announced and it was made public it involved major changes to Manchester city centre it was fairly obvious that various heritage groups would voice their anger. Let’s not forget that Manchester is a city which has undergone enormous transformation over the last 20 years and many areas have been significantly improved. Indeed if we go back to the Manchester IRA bomb blast, more than 20 years ago, this resulted in a massive redevelopment of the shopping region bringing in new business and new visitors.
The scheme proposed by the former Manchester United stars covers 700,000 ft.² in total including a 200 bed five star hotel, over 150 apartments, 135,000 ft.² of grade A office space and a synagogue. On top of that we have 30,000 ft.² of retail and leisure space which will include bars and restaurants as well as 31 storey and 21 storey office blocks. There appear to be major concerns about the design because it will mean the destruction of some prominent landmarks in the city centre.
Demolition of prominent sites
While the two bronze towers proposed under the scheme have attracted their own criticism it is the proposed demolition of a 1950s synagogue, an old police station and an 18th century pub which have got the heritage groups up in arms. They believe that the new development will rip the heart out of Manchester by demolishing parts of history. The groups have appealed directly to the UK government to step in and block the proposed property development and time will tell whether this happens.
In the meantime, it would appear that the property development itself has split opinion right across Manchester even though it is headed by some of the city’s best loved personalities. This is not the first time the pair have entered the property market but a £200 million development is certainly a step up for the real estate entrepreneurs. It looks as though they will have their hands full trying to push through this scheme in the short to medium term and they can probably expect some kind of investigation by the UK government. This would kick the property development into the “long grass” but it would not necessarily be dead and buried.
History over redevelopment
It will be interesting to see how this particular situation pans out because it has ignited the old argument of whether historic landmark should have any kind of precedent over redevelopment plans. There is obviously a need to retain the character and the history of cities up and down the UK but whether this is to the detriment of redevelopment plans is debatable. There is no doubt that the proposed scheme will be eye-catching and central to future Manchester but whether it is as derogatory to the history and the heritage as some would have you believe is debatable.