Back to drawing board for Piccadilly Gardens overhaul

Manchester City Council is developing fresh proposals for the revamp of Piccadilly Gardens, following the withdrawal of a planning application from Legal & General which proposed £2m of improvements.

The council is now set to commission landscape architects to draw up designs for improvements to the whole Piccadilly Gardens area.

LGIM Real Assets, a division of Legal & General, has agreed with the council to withdraw the application, which was submitted in 2017 and included plans for replacing the existing Pavilion and Tadeo Ando-designed feature wall with two buildings, linked by a covered area of public space, alongside improving lighting to deter anti-social behaviour, creating extra seating, adding soft landscaping, and re-laying the pedestrian thoroughfares.

Since the application was submitted, according to a statement from the council “the original scheme has become financially unviable for Legal & General without significantly redefining its scope and brief”.

Manchester City Council is now set to commission a landscape architect to draw up fully-costed alternative proposals, which the council said it will fund, “recognising the importance placed on Piccadilly Gardens by Manchester residents.”

Piccadilly Gardens Cgi

Artist’s impression of Legal & General’s proposals

The Gardens are owned by the council, while Legal & General have a 250-year lease on the Pavilion, which will still see some improvement work.

The council wants to maintain the key components of Legal & General’s scheme such as the planting, lighting and design to deter anti-social behaviour, raising grassed areas and works on pathways. The designs will be the subject of public consultation over the summer, and the council said it was “strongly committed to improving this heavily-used public space”.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “We know that people have strong views about the need for improvements to Piccadilly Gardens. Indeed after begging, the Gardens was the issue which was most raised in last year’s city centre review.

“We are determined to deliver those changes. While the scheme which was previously envisaged has not proved possible in its current form, it is not a case of back to square one. The work which was done on that scheme, and the public consultation which established broad support for the principles behind it, will help shape the revised scheme and give us a sound basis to move forwards.

“As part of the Council’s proposals for the Gardens we are looking to see the appearance of the concrete wall to the pavilion improved and softened. The Council’s ambition to see it transformed into a green ‘living wall’ facing the bus and tram stations. We also propose to remove the free-standing part of the wall, which sits within our ownership.”

Mark Russell, senior fund manager at Legal & General said: “We are pleased that Manchester City Council will be bringing forward proposals that build upon our own ambitions for Piccadilly Gardens, and which will enhance the public realm. Legal & General will continue to work in close collaboration with the Council to deliver complementary improvements to the Pavilion, further adding to the existing amenity of the space.”

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The mismanagement by the council of this area of the city centre is a disgrace.

By Lenny1968

Leese and Karney need to go, this won’t do

By Oh dear

The difficulty will be ensuring that this doesn’t drag on for a further couple of years following public consultation in Summer. Something needs to be done with this space far quicker than that.

By Junior

Piccadilly Gardens has been an example of everything wrong with modern landscape architecture for a long time. Too much back scratching not enough finding the right people for the job.


This was a classic example of British fixing things which ain’t broken. Manchester City Council are obsessed with pretentious street furniture rather than flower beds which bring colour,and grass. They are incapable of simplicity. Everything has to have a statement. Silly windmills and bogeys.The water feature is a joke. It trickles out on a good day and is a quagmire on most others. The place is filthy and full of people up to no good. What a welcome to visitors.It has been turned into a cheap, tacky food court too. It is an utter disgrace and MCC are wholly to blame for it. Who knows what the answer is?

By Elephant

Why not have a ‘ citizens ‘ design competition?
They may actually end up with something which people can be proud of, want, like and will actually use.

By A Manc

An absolute blot and blight on the city centre. A horrible space. Urgently needs sorting!

By Mancy

Let me guess who MCC will appoint??! Starts with a ‘P’ and ends with an ‘ie’.

Go on, MCC – prove me wrong

By MancLad

People need to understand Piccadilly Gardens is a transport hub. Efforts to make it an attractive space will always fail simply because of how the area is used.

By Millenial

It’s all a bit irrelevant as without more resources to police it, the gardens will stay as Scuttler Central regardless of what’s designed.

By Gene Walker

Those of us who remember the lovely sunken gardens and flower beds of bygone days will be grimacing every time we see the modern mess that the Gardens have become – and will stay. This has nothing to do with the site being next to a bus station but all to do with money, coupled with a lack of ambition on the part of those tasked with looking after our city. Why on earth the Gardens are in private hands and part of them have been built on is completely beyond me. To be a world class city means more than just allowing the place to become an urban landscape of bricks and concrete, dotted with a few symbolic trees.

By Ian Jones

Simple. remove the Pavilion to improve natural surveillance, and hard landscape (including a few more trees) the space to stop it turning into a mud bath.

The old sunken gardens were an awful no go area full of druggies. Stop living in the past. At least the modern gardens are well used. The main issue is that the grass can’t cope with the footfall.


The old school gardens will not work here due to how the area is used. Times have changed unfortunately.

Remove the concrete wall, hard landscape the full area (to prevent a mud bath), add a water feature, a plant some decent tall trees.

Think like St Peter’s Square – a perfect example.

By Tom

I agree that the lovely flower gardens of the past can’t be brought back, but those who settle for a concrete slab across the whole area are selling us short, in my view. Other cities have managed to combine greenery, flowers, trees, water and hard landscaping and we could do the same, given that this is the most important open space in the city. Part of the problem is that the city has virtually given in to the low life who populate open spaces, rather than take them on and make life very difficult for them. I appreciate that there’s a cost but to be world class you have to aim high, not low.

By Ian Jones

I don’t get L&G, they own most of the buildings around here so a nicer safer Piccadilly Gardens is surely in their interest. Also I understand times are shaky for some restaurant chains but restaurants here actually trade very very well, look at Shoryu Ramen.

By York Street

Get Alan Titchmarsh on the job.

By Barny

Simple, get rid of the wall!!


This is brilliant news! Personally I am a big fan of the Tado Ando design. Even though it has a love it or hate it design, it took balls to get an internationally renowned architect to design the gardens and showed Manchester has ambition to be taken seriously on the international stage. The new design was designed by an Architects who’s most notable project to date was a drive-thru McDonalds. It is the quality of a first year architecture student and a bad one at that. I really hope they go with a designer/architect/landscape architect that captures the ambition the Tado Ando design strived for but perhaps a little less divisive than the concrete wall!

By thank god

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