L&G confirms long-awaited Piccadilly Gardens investment

Legal & General, in partnership with Manchester City Council, has announced plans to invest £10m in regenerating Piccadilly Gardens, improving the public realm and redeveloping the Pavilion and unpopular wall.

Piccadilly Gardens is a heavily-used public space in the city centre with a footfall of around 310,000 people a week.

Under the proposals, there would be £2m of improvements to the Gardens “to make it more attractive and welcoming to families while deterring anti-social behaviour”, sitting within a £10m plan to deliver restaurants and a new coffee outlet.

Piccadilly Gardens Cgi Pavilion

The proposals include:

  • Removing the existing Pavilion building and feature wall, and replacing them with two new Pavilion buildings linked by a covered area of new public space for year-round use
  • Improving lighting and the design of the current Pavilion building and Gardens to improve natural surveillance. Greater Manchester Police have been consulted on the design
  • Creating extra seating throughout the Gardens for public use
  • Introducing extra soft landscaping including new shrubs and plants
  • Addressing damage to pavements and grass by raising the grassed areas and re-laying pedestrian thoroughfares

L&G bought the pavilion and wall in 2014. The new buildings will be larger than the structure currently on the site so will increase L&G’s lease area to fund the improvements, as well as screening the Gardens from the nearby bus interchange.

The plans maintain the pedestrian route from the Metrolink stop and bus station through the Gardens. It is also proposed that advertising screens at two locations will be integrated into the design to provide the council with a sustainable annual income which will contribute towards the ongoing maintenance costs of Piccadilly Gardens.

The proposals come after Manchester City Council and L&G have been in discussions about creating an improved, safer and more attractive community environment at Piccadilly Gardens. A statement from L&G said that during these discussions, the council and L&G, taking into account public opinion, identified that the removal of the wall and carefully targeted garden improvements would significantly improve the Gardens.

Features such as the children’s play area and existing public art will remain in place.

Piccadilly Gardens Cgi New Pavilion

All improvements will be phased to maintain as much public access to the Gardens as possible.

UrbanEdge Architecture is advising on the designs.

A public consultation setting out the plans in more detail will be held by the Council and L&G on Friday 2 December and Saturday 3 December, in the area next to the Media Lounge on the ground floor of the Town Hall Extension.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “For all the debate it has generated in recent years, Piccadilly Gardens remains an incredibly well-used public space. But we recognise that there are aspects which have proved unpopular and others where there is scope for improvement, including design improvements to deter anti-social behaviour and enhancing our own ongoing maintenance of the space.

“These proposals will provide both real and sustainable improvements which are compatible with Piccadilly Gardens’ role as a major thoroughfare used by hundreds of thousands of people a week as well as a destination where people can meet and relax.

“We believe the scheme which L&G have brought forward following detailed discussions with the Council is a constructive response to all these considerations but are keen to engage with the public to get their thoughts on the proposals.”

Your Comments

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Lighting is absolutely key and also additional CCTV. Especially where the trees are opposite Burger King. Remove the raised flower beds as well next to the fountain which all the drug dealers hide behind. Anything is an improvement! Pavilion looks ok as well. I still would never in a million years use the space, as you can guarantee it will still be full of scrotes!

By David

It only took a couple of years give or take a decade…… All of Manchester could have told them the wall was ‘unpopular’ from day one. MCC design masters!

By Dave Mont

I just pray that Manchester City Council can actually look after this once it’s completed. But I won’t hold my breath.

By Manc

Agree with all comments above.

It’s more difficult than what people think getting these kind of places to be a success. At some point you’ve got to cut the ribbon and let the masses flock in, with all the negatives that come with unconstrained access.

As regards public realm, it’s not cheap, either. Quality public realm £ per m2 is higher than what you’d expect. I don’t think it’s not too far off shell-and-core construction costs.

I think the location of this plot affects its feel as well, i.e. being at the epicentre of the golden triangle of petty crime in Manchester city centre, bounded by Shudehill, Piccadilly and Canal Street and infested with anti-social behaviours: littering, drunkenness and the number one con: drug addicts posing as homeless (which comprise 95% of the beggars in Manchester). If you give money, food or drink to a “homeless” person in Manchester you are part of their support network, enabling their drug-begging and ultimately putting money in smack dealer’s pockets. Please stop it. There are only 30 genuinely homeless people in Manchester – and you don’t even see them as they have got major mental health issues and don’t beg for money.

By Mizzer

Scrotes David? You need to man up or leave the UK if you’re so scared of Britain’s youth.

By York Street

Well now they appear to have sorted Piccadilly Gardens out, MCC should turn teir attention to Exchange Square and get the fountains working again……..they seem to have an issue with maintaining most of their major public spaces!

By 5373

Beware the high-level perspective render. This is what got us into the current mess. The design may look good from above but does it work on the ground? It lacks key desire lines, lighting and retains that awful fountain which becomes a depressing sea of grey (and full of litter) when the jets aren’t on.

By Place maker

Is this even any different? There just looks to be even more commercial buildings encroaching onto the ‘gardens’?

MCC need to spend a bit less time messing about with it’s remote control lawn mowers; embarrassing.

At least the wall is gone I suppose.

By .

Place Maker is correct. First year undergrad Landscape Architects and Urban Design students used to have the mantra that their work is NOT ‘ patterns on the ground seen from above’ hammered home in to their consciousness on a daily basis. It was therefore, always surprising that an architect of the Critical Regionalism style in Tadao Ando not only succumbed to this bad habit, and did not seemingly consider Orientation ( including latitude for heliodonic movement of surrounding shadows cast from buildings), Microclimate, which can only truly be experienced from repeated site visits at different times of day and season, Desire lines, and Proximetrics of other dominant features and structures. Any attempt at ‘makeover’ will thus remain a curate’s egg, as the underlying framework and layout of Ando’s flawed theory driven premise which addressed little or none of the preceding basic points still effectively remains in place. Other features that have followed have been the usual municipal ‘ bolt on’ accretions that will also struggle to fit if not considered as part of the original. Successful public realm should ‘self Police’ with the nature and habits it attracts and engenders. As Place Maker also points out, the glossy computer generated render ( those ‘patterns on the ground’ again!) addresses few if any of the way good Public Realm Landscape Design needs to be considered if it is to work. ( although a certain much lauded and developer favoured local Landscape Architecture Practice that often appears in these pages could be deemed similarly ‘ guilty’). Sadly, short of ripping the whole thing up and beginning afresh, which is highly unlikely to happen, we shall just have to learn to live with it, trying to make it better through small increments. As Janice Nicholls said …. “Oi’ll Give It Foive”.

By Cassandra

looks like a higher and thicker wall to me

By Anonymous

This place is a magnet for undesirables. I got my bag pinched here a few years back when I was eating at Pret.
The old gardens were classy and as far as I remember they were destroyed in order to deter the feral youth, drunks & drug dealers that still frequent the area. Very short sighted.

By Craig Earley

It shouldn’t be more welcoming to ‘families’, its the city centre hub it should be welcoming to students and professionals. Families already have the suburbs.

By Jamie

It’s a drug cess Pitt

By Mancpie

Yes, SCROTES ‘York Street’. Did I mention Britain’s youth? Although, yes, the youths that hang around the gardens are generally ‘scrotes’, and no, I’m not scared of them, believe me…It’s just not a place I would ever dream of socialising in. My point is, is that they can throw 10 million at making it all shiny and new, but give it a month or so, the scrotes and general trash of society that generally loiter there will just ruin it again. I hope very much that I am proven wrong. We shall see.

By David

The obstruction / wall is still there! What is wrong with a large public open space with some soft landscaping? There is such a lack of them in Manchester.

By Hannah

I like Pic Gardens: its edgy, which is millenial-speak for ‘cool’.

By Waterhouse

I’ve seen some plans, and the 3rd city crossing (3CC) goes straight through it.

Great comment from Cassandra, by the way.

By Mizzer

Has anyone noticed the buildings appear larger than the current ones? #landgrab

By miffed

MCC will let it rot as they have done in the past….NEVER look after anything!

By Anonymous

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