Great Jackson Street Masterplan
Connecting Hulme Park to the city centre via Great Jackson Street should be a priority

COMMENT | End of the road for the Mancunian Way?

Comments (43)

The clamour for a city centre park in Manchester is growing louder, but a redesign of the Mancunian Way could provide the opportunity to make Hulme Park just that, writes an urban planner.

With over 50,000 residents and counting, calls for a park and additional green space in Manchester City centre have never been more pertinent.

We often talk about Manchester City centre’s lack of parks, but rarely give any attention to the plethora of incredible existing parks which surround the city centre but which may as well be on a different planet due to the concrete collar of roads, motorways and overpasses which currently choke our city centre, and prevent free-flowing pedestrian movement from the city core and into the parks and neighbourhoods which surround it.

One such example is Hulme Park, which in any ordinary situation would be a mere five-minute walk from the bottom of Deansgate.

On the other side of the thundering Mancunian Way from Hulme Park is Great Jackson Street, one of the city’s fastest-growing development zones.

Here, over 6,000 new homes are proposed over the coming decade in a series of huge new skyscrapers, as well as improved public realm, shops, bars and restaurants. Sometime in the next ten years, well over 10,000 people will live in this neighbourhood.

They could all have easy access to the huge 15-acre Hulme Park on their doorstep – with all the health and wellbeing benefits that would bring. However, this opportunity is squandered by the Mancunian Way motorway, a wall made of concrete, tarmac and exhaust fumes.

At this location, the motorway is not elevated or tunnelled – but runs at ground level – forcing pedestrians and cyclists to use a dogleg bridge, adding at least an extra eight minutes to what should be a simple crossing.

Perhaps it is time we looked at converting the Mancunian Way from a severing, grey motorway to a great avenue befitting of the centre of a major European city. Further round the Ring Road, Great Ancoats Street is receiving a similar treatment, with pedestrian crossings and tree-lined pavements installed.

Great Jackson Street Road Plan

How Great Jackson Street could be connected to Hulme Park

The Mancunian Way at the section where it severs Hulme Park from Great Jackson Street should be traffic-calmed, becoming a tree-lined boulevard – “Mancunian Avenue” – with controlled pedestrian and cycle crossings installed to cut the time taken to walk and cycle between Hulme and the city centre.

This would enable us to blur the boundaries between the central and inner south Manchester, and finally try and address some of the chronic contrasts which take place in the fortunes of neighbourhoods sitting either side of the Ring Road.

The result is that we create a strong grid-style network which extends the walkable core of central Manchester significantly. These cells can then be used to encourage new developments – high-rise towards the city centre and Great Jackson Street, transitioning into lower-rise and townhouses towards the park.

There are already pedestrian crossings at multiple locations around the Inner Ring Road – at Angel Square, Springfield Street, Regent Road and Ancoats.

While slowing down the Mancunian Way may cause some disruption to motorists, it is time we asked ourselves who Manchester is for.

Is it to be designed for the tens of thousands of people who live, visit and work in the city centre, compelling us to create a walkable, attractive core with clean air, a cohesive cycle network and vibrant public spaces in which people want to spend time?

Or should it be designed to be made easy for people to drive through, without stopping, polluting our air; cutting our neighbourhoods in half; and taking us further and further away from our ambitions to become a truly global city?

The author of this article has opted to remain anonymous.

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Fantastic idea

By Elephant

“While slowing down the Mancunian Way may cause some disruption to motorists”

To be fair I don’t think pedestrians would enjoy wading through the gridlock this would cause either.

Incredibly frustrating that the Central Retail Park couldn’t have been used for some green space though.

By Disgruntled Goat

I’m with you on this one, urban planner

By Justme

The existing bridge is fine . It doesn’t take 8 mins ! I park there and walk to town regularly as my daughter is at Loretto college . Happy to meet and time you

By Ian hall

Similar could be achieved by constructing a green bridge over the road, without the impact on traffic.

By now

@Disgruntled Goat – what, you mean like they already have to?

By BillyboyCauseDaveWasBanned

A great idea – but wasn’t this the plan some 25 years ago? Plus the development of Castlefield as a green ‘lung’ which would also benefit the residents of Hulme. What happened?

By Old Hack

I like this idea, but doubt it wil be happening any time soon.

Eventually, there will come a point when the maintenance of the structure of the Mancunian Way as whole will become too expensive, and it’s removal will be of greater cost benefit. It’s at that point that a Mancunian Avenue is likely to be delivered along it’s full length. This will open up the whole south side of the City Centre to local residents and vice versa, meaning other green spaces such as All Saints Park, Ardwick Green, Gartside Gardens and the Medlock Valley will feel much more accessible to City Centre residents.

By ALL

Why can’t they create a semi-tunnel like the stretch of the Mancunian Way under Chester Road roundabout for traffic to use with a new bridge over the top, or a bridge extending from the park over to Great Jackson Street covered in grass and trees…similar to the garden bridge idea over the Thames

By Steve

Maybe they should start work on a tunnel now to follow the route of the Mancunian Way so that the tunnel will be ready for the day when the Mancunian Way needs to be replaced – then convert the surface to a park? Less traffic chaos than trying to replace the Mancunian way when it starts to fall to bits. Green park delivered. Maybe that would involve too much forward planning?

By howabout

As someone who has lived in Hulme and had to walk over the Mancunian Way twice a day, I 100% agree with this.

By Anonymous

I agree with Steve here. The Mancunian Way at this point should be “tunneled”, as in a large, green roof built on top. This will have the benefit of
a) Extending the park right into Castlefield itself, making for a larger green space and a larger direct link to the park
b) Reducing the pollution spreading over to the park
c) Removing all barriers to the green space. I disagree with Ian Hall – there is countless evidence that these bridges or underpasses do very little to remove the barrier that motorways create in our urban areas. It’s all documented and easy to find.

As for cost, sure it costs more money, but it is well worth it in the end. So many cities have done this in the past. Look at the amazing new parks or open spaces in Boston or Madrid, but this would be a lot cheaper than those. A better cheaper example here is the Domain in Sydney.

By EOD

Good idea Steve. Check out Boston’s Big Dig, which achieved the same thing, and reunited the city with its waterfront.

By Steve E

This has to be the worst idea I’ve ever heard. Just when you thought the traffic in Manchester couldn’t get any worse…

By Tyler

Boston Big Dig springs to mind.

Cracking linear park in the city centre which splits local and strategic traffic apart. I wouldn’t advocate a massive tunnel building programme in this case, but the precident for such a development is there to see.

The linear park in Boston is a great asset!

By Anon

Looks good to me and the Manc Way has always seemed to serve as a sort of ‘Berlin Wall’ to keep the south side of the City at arms length.

By Tha'knows

Huzzah! First mooted 15 yrs ago… would love to see this happen

By MancLad

Definitely a good idea. Never going to happen unless it makes money though and you can’t just stop the traffic, that won’t help anybody.

We need a ring road and we need a park. The ring road needs to be tunneled, built over and/or moved further out. If they tunneled or built over it I don’t see why they couldn’t make money from building something pedestrian friendly on top of it?

By Thumbs Up.

Mostly agree – but it needs to avoid the same mistakes as the GAS ‘boulevard’ by instead including for protected cycle lanes.

By Active Travel Trev

Don’t let the Mancunian Way define what we believe to be the city centre. Manchester city centre is very compact compared to other cities. Redefine the city centre to include the areas outside of the Mancunian Way and hey presto we have a city centre with mixed housing types, parks, schools, doctors etc. Connectivity is the key – the city needs to be permeable, people need to be able to move around in an enjoyable and efficient way. We are already heading in this direction but lets see MCC show even more ambition and deliver the infrastructure to enable this.

By Just Saying

Hooray! At last an article on creating greenspace in Place North West, instead of endless reports of new skyscrapers, clusters, neighbourhoods and ever denser development. Big thinking like this is well overdue and far more thought is needed on green infrastructure and making the city centre more liveable before any more planning applications are approved for new tower blocks.

By Ed Fox

Look no one would disagree with this is a money no object world. But unless the author has access to an unlimited money tree this is simply pie in the sky. But without ideas nothing ever gets better so well done but it’s not really a new idea now is it. What I don’t get is why city centre residents bleat on about having no green space. I live 3 miles from the city centre and my nearest park is a 20 minute walk. Get some exercise and walk to Hulme Park or angel meadows or Alexandra park. Have a walk down the Ashton or Rochdale canal. Take some responsibility for yourselves.

By Amazinglystillred

The main picture looks like the very filtered picture on BBC breakfast from Salford lol
grim

By Terence

Exactly @amazinglystillred; I mean, why dont we just get rid of ALL our parks when London has perfectly adequate and plentiful green space just a short train journey away. The Peak District is even closer. The last thing we need is precious real estate wasted on nice green space when all our amenity space can be provided elsewhere.

By Troll

Hulme park is by no means ‘huge’ and is overcrowded as it is in the summer. If you want green space for the city centre then design it into your plans and don’t build car parks where you could be putting parks

By Hulmeliving

Perhaps a traffic assessment would be appropriate before postulating such an airy fairy but ever so politically correct suggestion. The Mancunian Way is virtually a car park now. Slowing it down ever more by the introduction of multiple pedestrian crossings is a complete non-starter. Traffic congestion in the city is already atrocious; particularly the Mancunian Way and associated links. Remember the state the traffic was in when the sink hole appeared a few of years ago. That level of congestion would be permanent, but to both carriageways, if this suggestion were implemented. the only way around the problem is to tunnel the Mancunian Way through the city centre, but the cost would be truly enormous.

By Reality Check

The point about the Mancunian way being a sort of barrier is a good one. A large park would stop Hulme being somewhere over the road and would link the city centre to the suburbs as Hyde Park links the West End to Kensington, Knightsbridge etc. It could also kick start some smarter central districts for people to live in. Something similar could be done in Collyhurst.

By Elephant

I can see why the author has opted to remain anonymous

By Dreamer

When I was growing up in suburban South Manchester I had 4 green parks within about 15 minutes’ walk. However, all of these were at least 10 minutes away – just like Hulme Park is maybe 10 mins from Deansgate, Peel Park is maybe 10 mins from Trinity Way and Phillips Park is maybe 15 mins from Great Ancoats Street.

By Howard

Why not tunnel it at the same time as they tunnel HS2 into Picadilly (!) and create a Manc Big Dig like Boston. Cost recovered through associated redevelopment this will open up along the route

By Northern Outhouse

Troll troll troll. Why let the facts get in the way of the nonsense you spout? Stand in any tall building in Manchester and what do you see more than anything else? Yes they are called trees. Absolutely thousands of them and not a single one in the Peak District funnily enough. The city centre is tiny. You ain’t ever gonna get a park

By Amazinglystillred

Make the mancunian way into park – why does everything have to be so car focused

By shaun

Anonymous to the point that the story was first on Manchester Confidential!

By Tomo

Ian Hall is correct, this bridge is not “at least” an 8 minute trip. Perhaps more pedestrian focussed crossings like this would be a good step, unlike the Princess Rd / Medlock St proposals…

By G. Maunsell

@Amazinglystillred – Are you genuinely suggesting you see more trees than you see…roads?

By BillyboyCauseDaveWasBanned

The elephant in the room… “… cause some disruption to motorists…”

The city centre will not move forward without massive investment into its public transport network, not vanity projects like the beelines cycle routes and tinkering with road/junctions which take years to finish due to bureaucracy. Once the people of Manchester have a world leading public transport network that connects to all part of the city and not just Eccles, Altrincham, and the Trafford Centre; then I would hope that car journeys into the centre will reduce and we can bring in initiatives like this which will be a benefit to all.

By Aevis

Indubitably @BillyboyCauseDaveWasBanned
Get yourself up there. It’s a revelation in every single direction

By Amazinglystillred

@amazingred People need green infrastructure and open space in their everyday experience not the mental picture of a tree or a park some miles away.

Come on people, this is basic, obvious stuff. If we want to build a city that’s pleasant to live in, rather than merely a place of work to be escaped at the earliest opportunity, we need to grasp the nettle and invest in green infrastructure and high quality open space.

By Troll

I really do agree with troll. But everyone just focuses on a tiny slither of land 20 miles long and 3 miles wide called Manchester. It is minute geographically. If you start to think of Manchester on a London scale ie greater Manchester, there is tons of green space. A lot of people seem to think that if it isn’t on their doorstep then it isn’t there. I can name at least 7 big green areas just a stones throw from Piccadilly Gardens. How close does it need to be?

By Amazinglystillred

An interesting idea, something that seems like a good idea, at first. But then I noticed that the illustration makes it look like there’s only one existing building to the south of the Mancunian Way, is Brian Redhead Court the building with the outline that appears in silhouette, and then the other geometric shapes are suggestive of ‘here is where we can throw up more skyscrapers’. So it’s not so much a plan to improve the lives of people living in the new Great Jackson Street developments, more floating a plan to extend the city centre tower blocks into an area with lower level residential housing. It’s like ‘Right, guys, we filled that space, on that side of the Mancunian Way, where next?

By Louise

I find it really strange how some people on here aren’t bothered about the city centre having more green space.
It needs to be close enough to use regularly and needs to be safe/accessible to all.
If it’s 15 mins walk to get to a park in an area that’s not well maintained, most people wouldn’t use it on their lunch breaks or any other time for that matter.
It needs to be clean and convenient.

By L

I work in central London (was previously in Manchester). Within 5 mins walk of my office there are two smallish green spaces, plus two larger parks within 10 mins walk, all very well-used by office workers, builders, dog walkers, tourists etc.
Manchester has a couple of nice spots – St John’s and Sackville Gardens – but its lack of green space is a real shortcoming of what is otherwise a fantastic city to live in. This would be a great proposal. When have you looked out of your window and thought ‘this view is good but it would be much better with a three-lane motorway in the middle distance’?

By RM

This is a great idea, in terms of Hulme Park, which should be enhanced to create a green-gateway all the way from Stretford Road and over Royce Road, with a statement footbridge over the Mancunian Way towards Great Jackson Street. This could be done without affecting the Mancunian Way, which would need a huge fundamental change in road infrastructure, as it is already so heavily used.

By PA

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