Manchester City Council is developing fresh proposals for the revamp of Piccadilly Gardens, following the withdrawal of a planning application from Legal & General which proposed £2m of improvements.
The council is now set to commission landscape architects to draw up designs for improvements to the whole Piccadilly Gardens area.
LGIM Real Assets, a division of Legal & General, has agreed with the council to withdraw the application, which was submitted in 2017 and included plans for replacing the existing Pavilion and Tadeo Ando-designed feature wall with two buildings, linked by a covered area of public space, alongside improving lighting to deter anti-social behaviour, creating extra seating, adding soft landscaping, and re-laying the pedestrian thoroughfares.
Since the application was submitted, according to a statement from the council “the original scheme has become financially unviable for Legal & General without significantly redefining its scope and brief”.
Manchester City Council is now set to commission a landscape architect to draw up fully-costed alternative proposals, which the council said it will fund, “recognising the importance placed on Piccadilly Gardens by Manchester residents.”
The Gardens are owned by the council, while Legal & General have a 250-year lease on the Pavilion, which will still see some improvement work.
The council wants to maintain the key components of Legal & General’s scheme such as the planting, lighting and design to deter anti-social behaviour, raising grassed areas and works on pathways. The designs will be the subject of public consultation over the summer, and the council said it was “strongly committed to improving this heavily-used public space”.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “We know that people have strong views about the need for improvements to Piccadilly Gardens. Indeed after begging, the Gardens was the issue which was most raised in last year’s city centre review.
“We are determined to deliver those changes. While the scheme which was previously envisaged has not proved possible in its current form, it is not a case of back to square one. The work which was done on that scheme, and the public consultation which established broad support for the principles behind it, will help shape the revised scheme and give us a sound basis to move forwards.
“As part of the Council’s proposals for the Gardens we are looking to see the appearance of the concrete wall to the pavilion improved and softened. The Council’s ambition to see it transformed into a green ‘living wall’ facing the bus and tram stations. We also propose to remove the free-standing part of the wall, which sits within our ownership.”
Mark Russell, senior fund manager at Legal & General said: “We are pleased that Manchester City Council will be bringing forward proposals that build upon our own ambitions for Piccadilly Gardens, and which will enhance the public realm. Legal & General will continue to work in close collaboration with the Council to deliver complementary improvements to the Pavilion, further adding to the existing amenity of the space.”