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Plans for a 40 storey tower 300m from our historic Town Hall went to Committee ON 8th MARCH - six councillors said yes, 3 said no and one abstained. Sadly, that means that the only thing left to do is to ask the Secretary of State to step in. He's already said he wants to have a look and decide whether that's the right thing for him to do. 

PLEASE ask him to do it!  He can decide that Government should step in and appoint an independent planning inspector to make this planning decision instead of Manchester City Council.  We CAN ask Government, and they CAN agree - requests have to go by email to  - the national Planning Casework Unit - they advise the Secretary of State.

Manchester needs an objective review not of what changed - ie looking backwards - but of what is proposed - ie looking forwards —— only central Government can independently assessi the irreversible, permanent harm that such height and bulk on this site will cause for generations to come.

The changed approach by the applicant last year was welcome, but it didn't properly address this issue - and in terms of the planning process, it muddied the waters, effectively asking that Manchester settle for the lesser of two evils.

Only an independent, objective determination by an impartial expert planning inspector appointed by the Secretary of State can now provide a credible and objective final determination on this matter, which is of more than local interest and significance.

PLEASE EMAIL TODAY if you can - the reference number is Manchester 114664/FO/2016, and here are 6 key points:

1. harm would be caused to the setting and significance of important heritage assets of more than local importance, including our nationally valued Town Hall and civic buildings

2.  this is an inappropriate location for these buildings, which don't reflect, respond to or respect their surroundings 

3. the proposals are too tall and too bulky thus not sustainable, due to their impact on Manchester's  historic environment. They fail to build a high-quality environment

4. the proposals fail to comply with the Council’s Core Strategy and the National Planning Policy Framework, or to fit with the Guide to Development in Manchester and published Conservation Area policies

5. the benefits of the proposals are narrow, partial, and insufficient to balance the harm done to Manchester's assets. 

6. the Council is a legal partner with a financial stake in the St Michael’s proposals so will will profit directly from its development, and has demonstrated publicly at senior level that it is not impartial in the matter.  This a matter of more than local importance, and only central Government can offer a credible, independent and impartial the decision Central Government should step in.

PLEASE email Governments Planning Watchdog today: - they advise the Secretary of State.

If you can copy your email to helpful City Centre Councillor Joan Davies at too that would be great - it will help her to help us  with this - thanks!

We will get what we settle for - PLEASE DON'T SETTLE FOR THIS!!! At 40 storeys this is still a HUGE tower, totally out of scale with this historic setting, just 300m from our listed Gothic Town Hall. It overpowers Manchester’s historic core and dominates several conservation areas.

Thank you, Lesley

The Council is BOTH business partner in the development company that put these plans forward AND the planning authority - so would be giving itself planning permission for the buildings. Many, including national media (see below), have severe doubts as to whether the Council can be impartial and objective, because:

- it has a big financial stake in the plans being approved: it's a landowner and business partner in the development company, and will get £millions from its share when planning approval is given

- planning approval for these towers will immediately increase the value of nearby Council-owned land for building higher on those too - i.e. it's a precedent, and won't end here

- the developer says that the designs for the skyscraper is what the Council asked for - that the Council has encouraged and promoted these plans, which will permanently and irreversibly harm our city 

- the Council clearly and strongly supports the plans at the most senior level. The Leader of the Council says that objectors have made "silly" aguments, and 'just don’t like tall buildings'. That's nonsense, as comments in this petition make plain. Our problem with the tower is NOT style - just location-  it's too big and in the wrong place, 300m from the Town Hall entrance, overwhelming our civic centre. +A town hall boss was quoted in the Manchester Evening News saying that  '...given the cash already ploughed into Neville’s project, it is ‘highly unlikely’ it will not be granted planning permission'.

- The Council often has to decide on planning applications where it has some sort of interest, such as school extensions. But this nothing like a school extension - it’s HUGE and would have a huge impact on Manchester's nationally significant civic centre for generations to come. 


There are sound and solid reasons to ask Central Government use its power to step in and stop Manchester City Council allowing these towers to be built. The law allows this - but only for applications that are of more than local interest. In those cases, the Secretary of State can appoint an independent Planning Inspector to make the decision instead.

This is the only alternative to Manchester's  Planning Committee's close fought  decision to approve the application. The full Council of 96 members doesn't get to vote on planning applications, given the "quasi-judicial" nature of the planning process - so those 10 Planning Committee members will be the only ones to have had a vote on a planning application that will cause permanent, irreversible and substantial harm to our city centre's nationally significant heritage assets. 

The revisions show a huge tower of 40 storeys (replacing two at 31 and 21 storeys), next to a bulky office block. While some welcome changes have been made - the Sir Ralph Abercromby pub and the classic east frontage of the old Police Station escape demolition - these plans are still wrong for this key site in our historic core. 

The original two giant black towers got the biggest planning response in Manchester’s history. Over 4,500 people signed this petition against them, and some 1,400 people formally objected to the planning application, which was frozen for rethinking as a result - a new architect was brought in. and the new reality is 40 storeys of bronze metal, next to a bulky office block.

We may or may not like the style of the design, but the planning issue is that whatever the material and colour, it’s not whispy and ethereal  - it’s an enormous tower in an out-of-scale and crammed development dominating and overwhelming Manchesters historic core, in a conservation area surrounded by several other conservation areas.  

This giant tower is still too big and much too dominant for this location. There are obvious economic benefits to developing an underused site, but building so extremely high is not necessary to acheive the jobs and regeneration. Those benefits can largely be gained without such height and the damage to Manchester's historic core - the extra benefits from extreme height simply don't outweigh the damage done to our city core.

National Planning Law says that where designated heritage assets are to be harmed, either planning consent should be refused, or the developer must demonstrate that the harm caused will be outweighed by sufficient benefits.The benefits here are just not sufficient for this damage, which will be permanent and irreversible.

Development here will obviously bring economic benefits, including jobs - a major priority for Manchester. but it's NOT EITHER/OR. Without the overwhelming tower there will still be jobs and economic benefits. 

The developer acknowledges in his application that the plans will cause a high level of harm to our historic core, but still wants the Council to agree. They say the harm will be outweighed by the benefits they list in pages 87-89 of the Heritage Statement Impact Report  - have a look... Many of those benefits are only for the dwindling synagogue congregation, and many would still apply if more respectful and sympathetic plans were brought forward. A more appropriate and respectful development would still bring economic benefits, and could be an attractive new destination for Manchester. But right now, the benefits do NOT outweigh the level of harm.

Manchester will have to live with this decision for generations to come. 

PLEASE email Governments Planning Watchdog today: 

If you can copy to helpful City Centre Councillor Joan Davies at too that would be great - thanks!

Thank you, Lesley




It is the job of your local Councillor to represent your views and opinions and to decide how the Council should carry out its many important functions. Their job is to represent public interest, as well as the individuals living within the ward in which he or she has been elected. Good decisions on planning applications should be the business of ALL our councillors.  

To find your local councillor: - their email addresses are all listed so that you can tell them your views directly.


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