Manchester City Council has confirmed plans to pedestrianise Albert Square and has submitted a planning application which is set to be decided before the end of the year.
The plans would see the square enlarged by around 20%; the additional space would come from incorporating the roads which run around the outer edge of the area, with only the Princess Street side remaining open to traffic.
The refurbishment includes the installation of better drainage, removal and replacement of trees and landscaping, installation of light columns, wayfinding signage and street furniture, and the creation of sloped access to the Town Hall entrances.
The square itself will be resurfaced with granite paving, with yorkstone paving to provide a walking route.
The proposals have been developed by Planit-IE on behalf of the council.
According to a representative of Manchester City Council, plans for the reconfigured square will include the “removal of the concrete barriers, open up views, reduce clutter, improve lighting, and create a new tranquil space around the fountain to enable people to sit and enjoy the square. It will also provide better infrastructure for events.”
Cllr Nigel Murphy, lead member for the Our Town Hall project, said: “Albert Square is in many ways the heart of Manchester, somewhere people gather for celebrations, commemorations and communal events.
“We believe these plans will put it among the very finest and international public spaces, combining Victorian grandeur with modern facilities and accessibility standards in a welcoming, car-free environment.
“Our approach has been to accentuate the things which people love about the square while addressing some of the things which currently don’t work as well.
“Inclusive entrances to the Albert Square and Cooper Street entrances will ensure a dignified entrance for everyone, with no one needing to use a side entrance. This will complement other plans to improve accessibility around the town hall, with new lifts part of the wider plans.”