Manchester City Council has announced a pilot scheme which will see a section of Piccadilly Gardens sown with reinforced ‘hybrid’ turf, designed to withstand tough conditions, as part of wider works to the public square.
The trial will see a small area next to the fountain undergoing work until Friday 5 July, after which the area will remain fenced off from the public to allow the grass to grow. During this time the majority of the gardens will remain in use and operational.
Hybrid grass technology is most commonly used on professional sports pitches, and the council said it is far more resistant than standard grasses, making the technology more cost-effective in the long term when considering maintenance.
For years Piccadilly Gardens has endured criticism from councillors, business leaders and the public, often aimed at the decrepit state of the garden’s grass, which easily turns to mud.
If the trial proves a success, the council will then consider expanding the trial area to cover parts of Piccadilly Gardens that are subject to high levels of footfall.
Manchester City Council iscurrently in the process of appointing a lead designer to revise proposals for the redevelopment of Piccadilly Gardens as a whole, including the demolition of the Tadeo Ando wall, and its replacement with a green wall. Leaseholder Legal & General withdrew a planning application for £2m of works on the gardens earlier this year after proposals had been submitted in 2017. The council has said it is still committed to the planning, lighting and other reconfigurations outlined in this proposal.
Manchester City Council’s city centre spokesperson, Cllr Pat Karney said: “For a hard-working public space, we need a hard-wearing grass that can take such massive footfall, especially when the weather does let us down.”