Former football stars Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs on Thursday unveiled their plan for a multimillion-pound development in Manchester city centre, including a 200-bed hotel, two skyscrapers and a synagogue.
Neville, a former England full-back and Manchester United legend, said it would create 1 300 jobs and regenerate a historic part of the northwestern English city.
The project will also include 153 new apartments and 12 540 square metres (135 000 square feet) of offices.
“We will breathe new life into the area,” Neville, 41, said at a presentation in Manchester Town Hall.
But Historic England, a government cultural conservation agency, said the plans were of “great concern” as they would “harm” historic buildings.
“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,” it said.
An online petition has been started for a 19th century pub which would be demolished under the plan.
But Neville said the jobs of its nine staff and landlord would be protected.The Reform synagogue which will be demolished will be replaced by a new one.
“Our vision is to deliver the biggest statement in architecture and development that Manchester has seen in modern times,” he said.
The development project was in the headlines last winter because Neville allowed around 30 homeless men to squat in one of the buildings on the site – the former stock exchange.
Welsh football legend Giggs recently left his assistant manager’s role at Manchester United following the arrival of former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.
Giggs and Neville are already business partners and were the co-founders of Hotel Football at Old Trafford, Manchester United’s historic ground.