Reform shul backing goals of Neville and Giggs in £200m plan


A Manchester synagogue has assured heritage chiefs that a major building project fronted by Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs is in the interests of the community.

The former Manchester United footballers are behind a £200 million development, now at the consultation stage, featuring a five-star hotel, 153 flats, 13,000 square metres of office space and 2,800 square metres of shops.

But Historic England has expressed concern that the construction of two skyscrapers will require the demolition of three notable buildings, among them Manchester Reform Synagogue in Jackson's Row.

The other two are the former Bootle Street police station and a 19th-century pub.

Danny Savage, president of the synagogue, told the JC that his community supported the regeneration plans, which will see the shul provided with a new building.

"At the end of the day, the final decision rests with the local authorities who are working very closely with Historic England to try and accommodate their requirements.

"Jackson's Row Synagogue is falling down. It's in a terrible situation. Bootle Street police station has been empty for two years. It's a crumbling mess and the council don't want to keep it. The pub doesn't have any customers on a regular basis - though 2,000 people have signed a petition to keep it open."

The current synagogue building was constructed in 1952 - its predecessor was destroyed in a German bombing raid in 1941.

Mr Savage said the redevelopment - being planned together with Manchester City Council - would "revitalise our community".

If the project is approved, the new shul building will incorporate a range of state-of-the-art facilities.

As well as a synagogue area with a 540 capacity, it will include a 200-seat banqueting hall, library and kosher cafeteria, plus a terrace for a succah. Its existing stained glass windows and ark will be retained. The hope is that it will open in 2018.

A spokeswoman for Historic England said it "has worked closely with Manchester City Council and the developer, providing advice on the emerging scheme".

But she added: "The proposed plans as they currently stand remain of great concern to us. We think 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. We will continue to work with the team and council as the scheme develops."

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