Neville and Giggs let hotel squatters stay for winter

the former Stock Exchange building Image copyright Stephen Richards/Geograph
Image caption The Grade II-listed former Stock Exchange building on Norfolk Street is to be turned into a hotel

About 30 homeless people who have set up camp in an empty building owned by two former Manchester United players have been told they can stay for winter.

Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs are renovating the former Stock Exchange building in Manchester city centre into a luxury hotel.

Wesley Hall, a human rights activist, said he spoke to Neville on the phone and was told they could stay until February when building work will start.

The group of squatters was evicted from an empty office block last week.

Image caption Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs plan to turn the former Stock Exchange building on Norfolk Street into a hotel

Mr Hall said while speaking to a developer working on the site on Friday he was given the phone to speak directly to Gary Neville.

'Beautiful building'

"He spoke to me he said, 'Look, I've not got a problem with you staying here, look after the building and respect the actual building," he said.

He added that giving the homeless somewhere to stay is "a lifeline".

"These people aren't getting a nourishing meal, their immune systems are low and they are dying.

"All it needs is someone to put a roof over their head and give them a bit of support," he said.

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Media captionSome of those staying in the building spoke of their delight at the decision

Wesley Dove, who has been homeless for the last 12 months and living in a tent, said: "It's a beautiful building, now we know we can stay we can start doing work. It is a bit of security for winter."

Planning permission to turn the Stock Exchange on Norfolk Street into a 35-bedroom luxury hotel was granted earlier this year, with former United team-mates Neville and Giggs funding the project.

The Grade II-listed building, which they bought for £1.5m, will house a gym, spa, roof terrace for members and a ground-floor restaurant, according to architects AEW.