Man United legends Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs unveil plans for Manchester skyscrapers
Football stars Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs have unveiled pictures of their multimillion-pound Manchester development which aims to deliver "the biggest statement in architecture" the city has seen in modern times.
The St Michael's development - formerly known as Jackson's Row - includes two skyscrapers, with Neville promising more than 1,000 jobs at the "destination".
But the plans are of ''great concern'' to Government heritage agency Historic England, which said their scale and form would ''cause a high level of harm''.
The agency said the demolition proposed as part of the development concerns three unlisted historic buildings - the reformed synagogue from 1953-54, the police headquarters building from 1937 and the Sir Ralph Abercromby pub, originating from the late 19th century.
The agency said: "The proposed scheme as it stands at the moment involves the total demolition of all these. Our position is that this level of harm to historic buildings, as well as the harm to the character and appearance of the conservation area, should be very clearly justified."
An online petition to save the Abercromby pub - said to be the inspiration for the pub in BBC's Life On Mars - has almost 3,000 supporters.
Neville has promised that the jobs of the nine staff and the landlord will be protected, saying: "We understand, particularly myself and Ryan, living in the city, the community interest in relation to the pub. We are citizens of Manchester and we do not take away people's employment, it is as simple as that. We are going to create 1,300 jobs on this site."
Danny Savage, of Manchester's Reform Synagogue, welcomed the plans for a new synagogue, saying it was an "exciting time".
The project hit the news in the winter when Neville allowed about 30 homeless men to squat in one of the old buildings on the site, the Grade II-listed former stock exchange building which will escape demolition.
Historic England said it has worked closely with Manchester City Council and the developer, adding: "The proposed plans as they currently stand remain of great concern to us and we think that the scale and form of the plans would cause a high level of harm to both the conservation area and the setting of the nationally important civic buildings of the Town Hall and library.
"We acknowledge, and are excited by, the potential of the site, but feel that there are alternative ways to provide the benefits of the scheme which would not harm the special heritage of Manchester."
The 700,000 sq ft scheme includes a 200-bed five-star hotel, 153 apartments, 135,000 sq ft of Grade A offices and a synagogue.
The site will also include 30,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space, including two new sky bars/restaurants, in the 31-storey Number One St Michael's, while Number Two St Michael's will be a 21-storey office tower.
The development was designed by Make Architects, which has delivered some of the most prominent buildings in the country.
Former England full-back Neville, 41, speaking at Manchester Town Hall, said he wanted the development to become the new landmark in the city.
Neville, who is director of Jackson's Row Developments, said: "Our vision is to deliver the biggest statement in architecture and development that Manchester has seen in modern times."