City centre to get children’s play area

David McCourt

Work on the sixth Manchester Garden City scheme at Victoria Street, next to Manchester Cathedral, will start this week.

The design includes the city centre's first children's play area, complete with a sandpit and wooden play apparatus including balancing beams, ropes and stepping posts.

The site incorporates a temporary Cathedral building, which will be in place for 18 months. The 22m long wooden structure will host services and events whilst the floor of the main Cathedral is re-laid for a new heating system. Manchester Garden City

New trees, ornamental flowers, shrub beds and allotment-style grow-boxes for local residents to plant their own herbs and vegetables, will be introduced as part of the project.

Artificially grassed areas, seating and chalets to cater for community events and children's activities aim to create a pleasant place for people to take time out from the city centre.

The scheme will see the introduction of a new cycle lane, connecting Victoria Street to Greengate.

Most of the materials used in the development have been recycled from Chris Beardshaw's groundwork garden show at RHS Hampton Court. Wooden decking and chalets from last summer's canal festival in Piccadilly Basin are being used, as well as picnic benches donated by KRObar.

This Manchester Garden City scheme, led by city centre management company CityCo, design agency BDP and Groundwork, is jointly funded by CityCo, Manchester City Council and Manchester Cathedral.

Cllr Pat Karney, Manchester City Council's city centre spokesperson, said: "Manchester is full of underused pockets of space, many of which have already been innovatively transformed for the public to enjoy. This play area is another example of how we can be creative with our public spaces and bring life to a quiet corner of the city centre."

Gary Ellis, operations director CityCo, said: "The garden will be a family-friendly space in a relatively quiet location, yet close to shops, attractions, bars and restaurants."

Reverend Rogers Govender, dean of Manchester, said: "I am pleased with the way Manchester Cathedral is playing an active role in changing for the better the green spaces that we are able to develop to support the life of this great city."

BDP's Manchester studio was responsible for the initial design concepts.

Darrell Wilson, landscape architect at BDP, said: "We are excited to see the plans for the scheme finally realised, turning what was a large sterile tarmac road, closed to traffic, into a fantastic community resource.

"We wanted to create something different in the city centre that would be both exciting and fun for people, but also something that would be environmentally beneficial for the area."

Victoria Street is the sixth Manchester Garden City scheme. Others include canal-side planting in Piccadilly Basin, grow-boxes on Dale Street car park, the orchard in St John's Gardens, a Northern Quarter pocket park on Thomas Street and the revamped Albert Bridge Gardens.

A community event is being planned by CityCo with local gardening groups and businesses to tend to all the sites, and plant new flowers and shrubs for spring and summer. Anyone wanting to volunteer to help can email

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