Council reveals Albert Square potential

Indicative proposals to pedestrianise and enlarge Manchester’s Albert Square as part of the £330m of works at the Town Hall have been unveiled by the city council.

The outline plans would see the square enlarged by around 20% to significantly enhance its role as an events space.

The ideas for Albert Square were set out as part of a presentation given to July’s full Manchester City Council meeting, detailing progress on the project.

Planit-IE is the landscape architect.

The proposals for the square, which will be subject to full consultation at the design stage, would involve limiting traffic access to only the Princess Street side and extending the square’s pedestrianised areas. According to the council, traffic surveys have shown that fewer than 3,000 vehicles a day use the route. Taxi and bus stops would also be repositioned, subject to consultation.

The design of the reconfigured square will also enhance its safety, security and accessibility, removing the need for the current concrete barrier around it.

The square, with its grade one-listed memorial to Prince Albert, predates the Town Hall and work on its construction started in 1863, five years before construction began on the town hall.

Cllr Bernard Priest, lead member for the Our Town Hall project, said: “We are making significant progress on this ambitious project to safeguard, refurbish and partially restore the iconic Town Hall building while enhancing its surroundings.

“Albert Square is a much-loved public space where Mancunians and visitors come together for a huge range of cultural and civic events. It is, in many ways, the heart of Manchester. These proposals will see it take its place among the very finest international public squares.”

The Our Town Hall project will see the grade one-listed Manchester Town Hall building repaired, refurbished and partially restored over the next seven years.

The building, currently closed to enable works to progress, is due to re-open in 2024.

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Good good, it’s due some TLC.

By Thumbs Up

This is great. The more pedestrianised areas the better!

By cool beans

The city is so compact there is no reason why it can’t be pedestrianised from Deansgate to Portland St

By Loganberry

Looks great…will tie in nicely with the work to Brazenose

By Steve

Great idea. But will Manchester City Council PLEASE put some money aside to clean and maintain it (along with all the other public spaces and pavements in the city). Other northern cities, with similar budgetary pressures, manage to have nicely maintained spaces and gardens, so we shouldn’t have a problem doing the same.

By Mancunian

Great! If this takes place, the Albert Square/St Peter’s Square area will become one of the finest pieces of urban public realm in the UK and Europe.

By Ian Christie

Just repair the existing cobbles that were once a fine compliment to the surroundings, giving it a medieval cloth hall look of tourist centres such as Ypres. We don’t need another cheap piccadilly gardens.

By Peter

Nice to see the positive comments below from other people who carer about their city. Traffic re-routing will require some careful thought. Only downside is that the Christmas markets will get even bigger 😀

By MacT

@Peter. Very good point sir. The granite setts (supplied by Granite Union of Aberdeen..none of this cheap Chinese low quality but massive carbon footprint stuff everyone uses today) was laid in a ‘Bogen’ pattern supervised by a skilled and passionate craftsman from the firm called Dave Ward (Merseysider by origin if I recall). The coice of granite union stone and the pattern was precisely to invoke that Gothic vernacular of the Town Hall itsrlf, which as you point out has an almost Medieval Flemish C,oth Hall quality. Simply spreading out another yawn inducing bland public space in a ‘modernist’ international style..(whatever THAT is )remains the prefered option of most designers and clients who don’t understand why it is that different towns and regions once upon a time looked the way they did. It is either too difficult for them, or they see it as a pointless clinging to a past and therefore ‘un progressive’ . It is often conducted like most modern architecture/landscape people who actually hate their own country.

By Resurgam

Oh well, soon to be another area of city centre Manchester that I won’t be able to take my disabled partner…

By Aevis

I am assuming that this will stretch to St Michaels? It looks great.More trees are always welcome.I hope that they follow St Peters which looks stunning.Bad pedestrianisation can result in horror shows like Market Street.This looks tasteful in the picture.

By Elephant

@Aevis – why?

By Raj

@Raj: Thank you for your reply. The council’s persistence at trying to stop all motorised vehicles from entering the city centre by creating large pedestrianised areas, cycle/bus only roads etc… result in it becoming increasing difficult to either drop off or park near to the locations we want to visit. One example is Oxford Road, she simply cannot get close enough to her lecture buildings at Man Met Uni, this means she gets dropped off on the outskirts of the campus and drags herself to where she needs to be, most of the time she gives up and comes home… its heart breaking really and I can’t wait for her to finish Uni. I’m not against improving the city but I often find that ‘accessibility policy’ is written by people who don’t really have an understanding of the term and treat it like a box ticking exercise. Apologies for what sounds like a rant it can be quite frustrating.

By Aevis

Although this looks good, I really have to question the council’s priorities here. Surely, Piccadilly Gardens is in far greater need of improvement than Albert Square. When I show visitors around town, it is the depressing ‘gardens’ that I try and avoid, not the areas either side of the town hall.

By Keith

More roads not less, the best cities in the world are accessible by car with roads running throughout.


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