Council responds to Great Ancoats Street criticism 

The city council insists the controversial £9.1m project to upgrade the Manchester road has been a good use of money despite ongoing criticism from residents. 

As work to improve Great Ancoats Street nears completion, residents have taken to social media to express their dissatisfaction with the scheme, which was billed by Manchester City Council as a “European-style boulevard”. 

Numerous commentators have described the project, being delivered by lead contractor Colas, as a “disaster”.

Plans for the revamp were approved by the council last year despite concerns from residents that the proposals, which included new crossing facilities, more than 70 trees, wider pavements, redesigned, clearer signage, and parallel cycle lanes, were not fit for purpose. 

When asked by Place North West if the council thought the project had been a good use of money, a spokesperson said that it had. 

The aim of the scheme is to improve the physical environment of Great Ancoats Street, one of the main arterial routes around the city and part of the Manchester Inner Relief route, whose purpose is to keep traffic moving around the city instead of travelling through the city centre,” the spokesperson said.

However, dissenting voices from those who say that project has been a waste of money are growing louder with images posted on Twitter showing what critics perceive to be poor-quality work. 

One commentator said the road had “all the charm of Stalinist era Russian Boulevard” while another remarked “I’m genuinely impressed as to how they made Great Ancoats Street worse…that takes some serious skill”.

Great Ancoats 2020, a lobby group set up by residents to scrutinise the project, said the council ignored concerns put forward by the public and “pressed on” with the project, refusing to accept any criticism of the plans. 

Great Ancoats Street 2020

However, the council spokesperson told Place North West: “A public consultation for this scheme was carried out and included local residents, businesses and other stakeholders. Each person that provided feedback to the consultation was individually contacted with bespoke responses.” 

Critics have also raised concerns over a lack the trees that formed part of the proposals but the council said work has not yet finished and that 63 trees would be planted on Great Ancoats Street as part of the upgrade, as well as seven on Old Mill Street. 

The spokesperson said: “The scheme has been designed to deliver enhanced crossings for people travelling on foot or by bike, to allow them to cross the major road more safely and travel more easily between the city centre and the flourishing Ancoats area.  

“The project will provide a safer, more accessible link between the city centre and Ancoats and the physical environment of the road will be improved.”

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This scheme really is a disaster – there about 4 different types of pavement and the tarmac used is not as per the original spec. Even the curb lines are not even granite just the cheap off the shelf stuff. It’s a real, real shame as this will not get re-paved for 30 years so we are stuck with it.


It’s an absolute dog’s dinner. The Council utterly lacks imagination or vision. They need to be going far more for cyclists.

By Nigel Woodcock

This was probably signed off by the same guy who approved the chicane outside the Hilton Hotel on Deansgate , who after numerous accidents had to put it back the way it was .

By barny

Classic MCC arrogance. Completely ignored people’s concerns at their so-called consultation and now they’re pretending everything is fine. Reminds me of Piccadilly Gardens. The public will remember this at the May elections, it’s time for Piccadilly Labour to face the consequences of ignoring their constituents

By Anonymous

It’s crap ….. £9m for not much else but new tarmac – which then floods the new crossing points and some new tree’s …..European Boulevard, must be brutalist eastern European model.

The gem of Gt Ancoats St is the Express building, but instead of being able to admire in its entirety tree’s have been planted in front of it while the remaining crud with wide pavements have none – which bright spark signed that off, probably the same who designed the Princess Rd / Manc Way re-configuration which now causes long tailbacks on Manc Way which never occurred before.

This is what you get when there’s no challenge to Labour’s stronghold

By Boom

Okay we need to start talking about how MCC is a bunch of incompetent morons that keep on ruining Manchester. Although it’s good to see a lot of development in the city, there is no quality to it. They approved all the schemes with no imagination or aesthetic value but excellent projects like Speakers House got rejected, absolutely laughable. Manchester is starting to look like a soulless concrete jungle with no green spaces or quality landmarks, it is very alarming! And don’t even get me started on Great Ancoats Street, they have audacity to say this disaster was money well spent, they really need sorting out. They should all be fired we need a whole new council team.

By Michael

Even Stalin would have been embarrassed by this effort.

By Sleaze

Why is the public realm suddenly so well designed when you cross over the Irwell into Salford? Why do all the cycle lanes suddenly end when you hit the Manchester boundary from the Trafford or Salford sides? Manchester highways needs new leadership. Such a joke.

By Manchester

Very depressing! So much money wasted to make the Great Ancoats st even worse. They couldn’t even bother to put paving slabs which would improve the visual aspect. The sea of tarmac everywhere! This is what happens when one party has a monopoly on power for decades.

By Johnny

Manchester City council are utterly useless at public realm. They are terrified of trees and gardens and when they get an open space gifted to them like the old Retail Park they build more dreary flats on it. Absolutely clueless these people. Why not just make GAS an avenue with mature trees on the pavement and make the centre into a raised garden? No doubt there will be plenty of provision for passive/Aggressive cyclists.

By Elephant

Claiming this as a success is pathetic. Grown ups admit their mistakes and learn from the experience.

By W

Worst scheme ever. They’ve partly removed one of the road lanes too so there’ll be more traffic and exhaust fumes than ever. Absolute disaster.

By Anonymous

I will be personally counting those trees, as they definitely haven’t created 63 tree pits! The trees they have planted will take about 10 years to look like anything in the CGI above.

By Steve

Absolutely appalling – how can we still be getting this so wrong. Utterly shocking.

By Sean

I think this scheme speaks to the bigger problem in the CC which many have already highlighted – lack of focus on quality. It seems the council are blind to this. Great that residents are speaking out, even better if there were dissenting voices in the council chamber holding the Council to account.


It seems MCC forget from time to time that they answer to their citizens

By Democracy

MCC and their contractors do not care about residents – they are about tick lists and money. We’re in this weird impasse where the council wants the CC to have residents but doesn’t want act at all like it’s a residential area.
These roadworks have been going for 9 months and the local disruption to residents and businesses has been appalling.
Case in point. w/c 14th December they worked through the night 5 out of 7 nights. MCC, the GAS email address and the contractor are all yet to respond. And for what? It’s cheap and ugly.
I am actually very concerned about the approach they will take to Central Retail Park. Currently it’s a noisy builders yard that is active EVERY day of the week. To live here and know that no one cares one iota is depressing.
The council had something special with Ancoats but they have chucked the baby out. Idiots.

By Becky in Ancoats

I work in the Northern Quarter. My business is there and I regularly have need to access other businesses on, or just off, Gt Ancoat St and Pin Mill Brow. The ‘parallel’ cycle route does not access these or even get close as it heads to Piccadilly. I’ve tried various routes but the canals and railway introduce barriers that mean the logical route is along Gt Ancoats St. Unfortunately this is ridiculously dangerous and only going to be worse with this scheme. Why spend all this money without even trying to put a cycleway there?
Why remove the (admittedly pathetic) cycle path that was there before?
Do the council actually want people to cycle on the pavement or get killed in the road?

By Jonathan Keenan

Please ask the council to release their Specification(s) for the project along with both their Design and Installation Inspection and Test Plan(s).

By Dan

A total and utter embarrassment. Tarmac instead of paving stones/flags, flooding and no safe provision for cyclists. Either the spec for the supplier was so badly written that the MCC officer responsible should be sacked or the contractor should be sued. Absolute disgrace

By Mancunian

When you see what other City’s can do around Europe this is embarrassing.I promote Manchester whenever I can but developments like this give one no confidence.When I look at how Manchester City Football Club have made such huge efforts to create as much greenery as possible by planting mature trees etc at their training complex it shows what can be done even in inner city.Like several people have said on here it’s almost like Manchester City Council don’t want green spaces.Great Ancoats Street should be one of the premier roads in the city but this is what we end up with.

By Peter Chapman

Councillor Wheeler, Douglas and Lyons need to be held to account for this mess.

By Anonymous

I’ve read all the comments. There’s a lot of anger there and the council seems to of pleased no-one. I’m a cyclist (aggressive, with pro ~cameras). I want a central, elevated cycle, walk lanes. It provides a covered walkway through the center. Trees and more trees plz. All the cycle lanes need to connect. Bridges, subways where suitable. A proper surface and well lighted with led’s, small turbines and pv panels provide the power. Big company in Derbyshire makes Hempcrete!. The cycle infrastructure should include traffic lights and congestion warning using lcd or led’s. I’ve spent £3.3k on my ebike and pay no road tax. The council has to get to grips with the evolution of the city and its citizens. Taxis equipped with bike racks. Provision on trams for ebikes. In Denmark even the buses have clamps for 6/8bikes, no big deal. I need to get myself on the council planning committee. Ancotes, I give it 5 years and then they build elevated cycle system. Simple you pay per week /month /year, provided with id cards and access through pop up bollard /turnstile or a hydrolic barrier. There needs to be a serious rethink of horticulture /parks dept. Vertical gardening. Its neccassary for humans who inhabit an urban landscape. More roof gardens with cycle lane access. Its seeing in 3D opposed to the 2d yesterday thinktanks…

By Robert Fuller

When I realised today that they’ve got rid of the traffic light crossing outside Aldi I was shocked. It proves that MCC only care about cars and traffic flow. It’s not even a Zebra!!! It will take ages to cross now on what must be one of the busiest crossings on the street! The mind boggles.

By kl

Typical of the poor quality schemes Manchester has delivered recently. This ‘Manctopia’ slogan is just rubbish. The city is a decaying dump with embarrassingly poor quality projects. MCC are absolutely to blame for this. (I say this as a current resident and someone who used to love this city).

By Observer

The crossing by Aldi hasn’t been removed, it just isn’t finished yet. They have yet to install the traffic signal poles and equipment.
Aside from that, it’s disappointing to see so much use of tarmac on the pavements when this area should benefit from higher quality materials throughout, not just on a few short stretches. Compare this with Chapel Street in Salford and you see what a poor deal we’re getting for so-called “environmental improvements”. There’s nothing ‘European’ about this scheme, perhaps more ‘Coventry’?

By Roe Digger

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