Manchester showcases car-free Albert Square

The city council has revealed further images of an expanded and pedestrianised Albert Square, due to be delivered as part of the £330m refurbishment of the town hall.

The square is due to be enlarged by around 20% under the proposals, which will involve limited traffic access to only the Prince Street side. Taxi and bus stops are also to be repositioned, and the redesign will remove the need for the square’s existing concrete barrier.

Planit-IE is the landscape architect.

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.

Albert Square Our Town Hall 1

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. Lendlease is the main contractor, and the city council is holding public consultations on the scheme today and tomorrow.

Much of the work focusses on restoration and improvement, making the building fit for modern use. New additions will include a visitor centre and special collections exhibition.

Albert Square will be closed while the works are ongoing; an impression by Oakwood of how the town hall and contractors’ compound will look is shown below.

Town Hall During Works

Your Comments

Read our comments policy

More pedestrianisation? What a joke, the city will be a ghost town, at least with have Trafford Centre.


This type of square works so well in so many other European cities, like Brussels. This is a great move for the city and strengthens the argument that more of the city should be pedestrianised.

By Chris R

The city is choked with cars and vans, most of them carrying one person. Pedestrianisation is good for everyone

By Anonymous

In general this is great, however those raised planter beds are just not needed. It just makes that left part near the tram line look cluttered.

Also i really hope they install more discrete CCTV cameras than are there already.

By Rob

There’s no real need for general vehicle access through this part of town so I’m all for that. I am an occasional driver myself but walk to work and this is crying out for being a pedestrianised space.
However the visualisations seem to suggest the two plane trees to the south of the square will be removed. Why is this necessary? We should be retaining all the mature tree cover we can, regardless of whether they’ll be replaced elsewhere.

By Improvement

More space for the Christmas Markets when complete!

By Father Christmas

@Rob – I wonder if those raised planters are designed to deter attacks on pedestrians using vehicles?

By Nordyne

@the chap who complained that more pedestrianisation would make the city a ghost town and threatened to leave for the Trafford Centre… Thanks, this comment just made my day. You’re threatening to leave a partially traffic free area because you don’t agree with removing more vehicals from the streets yet leaving to a 100% traffic-free area in protest?


FF – you are hilarious.


This is fantastic

By Dingaling

SO pleased this is coming forward, looks great

By Bradford

Proposed Albert Sq looks great.
Prague, Brussels etc have these types of squares and are good places to be so we will have a quality central area in front of our great town hall where visitors and local people can relax and enjoy themselves. City Centre is improving all the time keep gpoing

By Anonymous

Given that MCC have pledged to “Ensure all upcoming public realm and infrastructure investments, alongside all related policy programmes, have walking and cycling integrated at the development stage” via the Made to Move document, I hope this is to be permeable to cyclists – or have MCC still not gotten the message after the Great Ancoats Street protests?

By IanP

This looks fantastic… and the removal of traffic is a great idea too, this srea should have been pedestrianised long ago.

By Anonymous

This would be a huge improvement and a wonderful place to relax at lunch with colleagues or with family at the weekend – for our wellbeing. I’m not sure it will be left for that use as shown in the images, but instead filled with hoardings, tents/sheds and events for 40 weeks of the year. Let it be open for the majority of the year and find other event centres.

By Let it be

They should retain the existing stone hard landscape in the square and mature trees. Concentrate on the pedestrian elements of the roadway and use the budget to sort the pavements out on Dale street. The worst conditioned street in M1 needs urgent help!

By Dale Street Resident

Hope Prince Albert monument us getting a clean up as well.

By Stella Bagnall

Er…..IanP. The last thing we want is an increase in cyclists in pedestrian areas – enough of them on the pavements already.

By ChesneyT

@ChesneyT – thanks for your anecdote. Here’s an evidence-based study:

By IanP

The fewer cars in the city centre, the better!

By Dan

Not bad but needs some kind of pavilion structure, some grass and a massive black granite dish structure with multicoloured lights and water jets.

By Troll

We need more green in Manchester city. It’s too much stone. Somewhere people can sit in a nice colourful surrounding of green and flowers . Thank you

By Loise

There is a fantastic opportunity to make Great Ancoats street retail park into a park but they are going to build more dross on that site. This is perfect for a green space as they plan to treeline Great Ancoats street.A tree lined boulevard with a park in the centre is just what the city needs.

By Elephant

Call me cynical, isn’t this the councillors and town hall workers removing air pollution around where they are and increasing the pollution load on other workers working nearby? Yes I think so corrupt and selfish to the core as usual.

By Phil h

We could do with a cycle path round the square. It’s very difficult for cyclists to get from one side of the city centre to the other.

By Martin Rathfelder

Where is the provision for the disabled…NOT JUST WHEELCHAIR USERS? and nearby car parking facilities or improved bus service to bring people in from the suburbs?
where is there any greenery and shrubbery?
where is age-friendly seating? This blue-sky picture DOES NOT truly represent Manchester people and deters older people from using the city at all. The “age-friendly” city !!!!!!!!

By freddi greenmantle

You HAVE TO HAVE older people , disabled people, not just wheel-chair users, and a varied group of Manc. residents on any development board representing the TRUE views of all Manc. residents. If you don’t listen to these viewpoints you are effectively saying you DON’T CARE about the Manchester Age Friendly label you currently OWN and don’t want older residents, or disabled people in your modern city. BUT WE DO EXIST, AND WE SHOULD BE INCLUDED.

By freddi greenmantle

Demolition the town hall to expensive to repair. Manchester people want a vote on town Hall expenditure.

By Brian hollis

If it means we are changing things for the better of the environment than its a good thing if that mean a solution to less cars on the road it’s a good thing.

By Chris

Other taxi ranks not been given yet.the ones council promised they gona reinstate albert square rank….waste of time false promises as always.

By Zishan ahmed

Brian hollis – it’s a grade 1 listed building so there is a legal requirement to maintain it. They have no choice.

By George I think she's got it.

The more pedestrianisation the better. Traffic is divisive and polluting. FF – read some Jane Jacobs.

By Anonymous

@ freddi greenmantle – I completely agree with your comments. My partner is disabled and we find its becoming practically impossible to travel into and around the city centre nowadays, consequentially we don’t bother going anymore. There are entire areas e.g. Oxford Road bus/cycle section that are now a complete no go as we can’t get a car close enough park up. Its a shame really as I like the concept but would have like to seen the shared surface type parking similar to the spaces next the Library. Little touches like that would make a massive difference to people with mobility difficulties and can fit into this type of development.

By Aevis


I agree – cyclists are going to use this for cycling anyway given the cycling infrastructure in the city centre is terrible

By Dingaling

People forget that traders need access to Dixons

By Huey

Whilst I like the idea of this, does this mean when the German Markets come they will take up more space? I already think they’re large and touristy enough as it is.

By Louise

Pedestrianisation good, but:
1. Include proper cycleways to get more people cycling and minimise the contention between cyclists and pedestrians.
2. Ensure that drivers can still get around the city centre. Some journeys are now almost impossible – you have to know just the right route to do them legally and one wrong turn can add 20 minutes.

By Iain

Would be great if this scheme could open up better surrounding uses. If it is really going to work like a continental square we need to get better food and drink around the perimeter.

Connections in to Lincoln Square really important too. St Peter’s square is great nowadays and there is a chance to really get this area of the city performing like it should.


Related Articles

Sign up to receive the Place Daily Briefing

Join more than 13,000 property professionals and receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox


Join more than 13,000 property professionals and sign up to receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox.

By subscribing, you are agreeing to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

"*" indicates required fields

Your Job Field*
Other regional Publications - select below