New Look Deansgate
The whole of Deansgate would be pedestrianised under the council's proposals

Deansgate overhaul top of MCC’s transport hit list

Dan Whelan

Manchester City Council has published a draft 20-year transport strategy that includes the permanent pedestrianisation of Deansgate and a city centre “triangle” cycling route linking Deansgate, Whitworth Street West and the Northern Quarter. 

The strategy also supports the creation of a “world class transport interchange” at Piccadilly Station that will be redeveloped in line with the arrival of High Speed 2, and the reimagining of Piccadilly Gardens, which is due to go out to consultation later this year.

The proposals, developed jointly by Manchester, Salford City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester, are open for consultation until 4 November. They aim to change the way people travel around the city centre by placing a greater emphasis on ‘active travel’ – that is, cycling and walking – as well as by improving the city’s public transport offering to reduce dependency on cars. 

By 2040, Manchester City Council wants 90% of city centre journeys to be made on foot, by bike or on public transport, compared to 78% currently. With this in mind, the strategy outlines seven main aims:  

  • To make the city centre more attractive for walking  
  • To create a cleaner and less congested environment  
  • To encourage more people to choose to cycle within the city centre 
  • The improve public transport connections 
  • To move towards a smarter parking model, integrated with other modes of transport 
  • To ensure goods are moved and delivered sustainably and efficiently 
  • To embrace innovation where it benefits the city centre and its users 

Plans for the permanent pedestrianisation of Deansgate, to be completed by the end of 2021 according to the council’s vision, will be subject to a separate consultation. In May, the part of Deansgate between King Street West and Blackfriars, was closed to traffic as part of social distancing measures during the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.

Thomas Street NQ

Thomas Street was pedestrianised during the pandemic c.Adam Pester

In July, Manchester City Council requested £10m from the Government’s £900m pot for ‘shovel-ready’ projects, to bring forward the Deansgate scheme but it did not receive the funding. 

As well as the part-pedestrianisation of Deansgate, several similar interventions designed to improve the city centre for pedestrians and cyclists have been implemented in recent months, including the closure of Thomas Street and Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter to vehicular traffic. 

Manchester City Council’s previous city centre transport strategy was adopted in 2010 and facilitated the delivery of projects including the Oxford Road bus and cycle enhancements and the redevelopment of St Peter’s Square. 

Cllr Angeliki Stogia, the council’s executive member for transport, said: “As Manchester continues on the road to recovery from the pandemic and plans for growing numbers of city centre jobs and homes, more than ever, a strategy is required to guide the future of transport in the region’s capital.
 
“This ambitious strategy envisions a well-connected, zero-carbon city centre at the heart of the North, offering residents, workers and visitors a great place to live, work and visit.”

Cllr Roger Jones, executive support member for transport at Salford City Council, added: “It is important we have a vision for the future and not let the way we travel around the city centre area develop in an uncontrolled way.

Manchester 2040 Transport Strategy

MCC wants to boost active travel across the city centre

“This strategy is a partnership approach and sets out ideas of how the city centre area can be best managed for all – with a special emphasis on cycling and walking and aiming for a cleaner, greener future.”
 
And Cllr Mark Aldred, chair of the Greater Manchester Transport Committee, said: “Greater Manchester is growing and evolving, and this strategy looks to the future and how we can actively create a successful, resilient and thriving city centre.”

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Much of this looks great, and good to see obvious candidates finally getting the attention they’ve needed.

I’d really like to see what ‘Plan B’ is for Piccadilly if – or, in IMHO, when – HS2 is cancelled, either beyond Birmingham or in full. The area has great placemaking potential, but could so easily end up a dog’s dinner with so many landowners & interests, and my experience of Network Rail is they need cajoling & pushing out of the ‘lowest-common-denominator’ option.

By MancLad

Excellent idea that will make a more pleasant environment for shoppers and diners.
Deansgate shouldn’t be handling large volumes of through traffic, which should be using the Ring Road (i.e. Trinity Way) instead.

By Anonymous

These schemes should be for pedestrians, not cyclists.

By Dan

A brilliant sounding set of schemes here which will create an excellent environment for pedestrians, which is sadly lacking here in Liverpool in my experience

By Liverpool Romances

This will kill off Manchester, what a absolutely ridicules idea, where do these people come from who come up with them. 1st off it rains ALOT so those pretty pictures will look just like the street behind the great northern, you know boarded up shops and not a soul around. 2nd how many restaurants can you have on a closed deansgate. What other shops would be along there? Can’t have shops that sell anything that needs taking home of the back of your bike or on the delayed/cancelled train or broken down tram due to a twig on the line. 3rd Deliveries to the shops pubs bars and restaurants? 4th and probably the biggest one of all, Traffic, where will it go on to roads that already can’t cope? Chapel street is chaos already, made even worse now because of a huge pointless cycle lane down both sides reducing it to 1 lane from 2. Traffic now backs up to the cresent. If for one minute anyone thinks that this will get people out of cars and on to bikes or public transport your in la la land and emissions from sitting traffic will make for more pollution. If it get to the point where you can no longer drive into Manchester people like myself will take their business’s out of the city centre… wake up and smell the coffee people will always chose the car. I can not believe this has the potential to happen…

By anon

This is my favourite article on here for a long time. Very exciting stuff we can look forward to, particularly for the areas of the city which need attention.

The pedestrianisation of Deansgate will be transformational for the city centre. Even the temporary set up with the trees is great and the long stretch up to the Deansgate South towers looks class on a sunny day.
The recent addition of the outdoor seating in NQ has created a well needed atmosphere (reminds me of urban festivals) in the area and should become a permanent fixture.

The potential for operational tunnels under Manchester could be a massive game changer if they really went for it. @MCC @TfGM Please get the majority of public transport underground and let us walk/cycle on the existing tram routes!

Thanks PNW.

By Anonymous

great – crack on!

By Anonymous

I’ll be honest, I’m dead against it. People forget that traders need access to Dixons

By in b4 anyone else

I also think these are generally good ideas. We need to get more cars off the roads and focus on people instead. @MancLad, if HS2 is indeed cancelled, this would cause huge issues around GM as we are relying on HS2 (and NPR) to free up the capacity on existing rail lines by moving the express trains off them – this is about our only chance to have a proper, high frequency, reliable heavy rail suburban network in GM. As hinted above, to achieve this, we need not only HS2 but also Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPH, e.g. LVP MCR Leeds) completed as well and so I hope the plans for Piccadilly include that also

By EOD

Deansgate lends itself to being pedestrianised so this aspect could certainly work. The less traffic in the town centre the better, I never really understood why people want to drive through the centre of Manchester anyway its stressful. I think York is also planning something similar.

By Jon P

Great! The beautification of Manchester continues apace! Schemes like this, combined with the huge jobs market will make the city one of the very best places to live in the UK.

By Manchester Romance

Plans for Deasngate look great it’s a shame the city council will be incapable of keeping it clean and maintained.

By Anonymous

They seem to forget the weather here is grey, dull and miserable 80% of the year. Its already a terrible experience trying to get around, can’t see everyone popping on bikes or walking about on a late January evening in the driving rain.

By FoggyLog

This is absolutely fantastic…get it done, its schemes like this which will being turning Manchester from (in places) somewhat drab to something more special. For the ones saying it rains all the time, pedestrianisation isn’t just about open air dinning, its about creating an environment that is more pleasant and welcoming to people.

Every indication of when schemes like this are introduced is that footfall increases not falls….I’m old enough to remember the uproar when the proposal to pedestrianize market street was proposed….some people always resist change.

By Manc Man

Excellent idea!
You don’t need to drive on Deansgate. You do need a more landscaped and pedestrian friendly city centre.

By Anonymous

Anon @ totally agree with you 100%. traffic is nearly back to normal. Chapel Street is choca and down to one lane because of a STUPID cycle lane that a cyclist uses once every 5 minute. About 3months ago Salford council blocked off Blackfriars road (town side) and this is causing problems. Also you got deansgate at Blackfriars road side already blocked off and parts of the northern quarter are blocked off and ancoats street takes about 15 minutes to get through at the moment with the roadworks around there. It’s madness and crazy. I’m off to get a chill pill

By Darren born bred Salford

@anon, lets have a look at some of your questions:
(1) “where do these people come from who come up with them”: The good thing about town planning is that we have a lot of real world examples. Looking across Europe, we can see an almost endless number of successful pedestrian streets. There are far more examples of successful inner-city pedestrian zones than unsuccessful. That’s one place they get their ideas from
(2) “1st off it rains ALOT so those pretty pictures will look just like the street behind the great northern, you know boarded up shops and not a soul around. : There is a huge difference between an alley behind a building that isn’t on street level and poor connections to the urbanity around it and a major street with direct access to the city from all angles. Rain is a problem, but a thing called umbrellas or canopies were invented a while ago. They work in other wet Europen cities.
(3) “2nd how many restaurants can you have on a closed deansgate?” As many as economically viable. Again, look at other cities across Europe and their pedestrian streets, whether Frankfurt, Ghent, or the amazing Utrecht – any number of cities and you will find that not only do restaurants work on pedestrian streets, they flourish more than on traffic-focused streets.
(4) “Can’t have shops that sell anything that needs taking home of the back of your bike or on the delayed/cancelled train or broken down tram due to a twig on the line”: This makes zero sense. Again, experience in other European cities where the main retail street is pedestrian, shows that its works. Hell, you don’t even have to go abroad. Look at Leeds, Liverpool, Glasgow etc.
(5) “Traffic, where will it go on to roads that already can’t cope?” This is probably the most logical question you ask. Traffic changes can be a problem. But every city that has pedestrian streets had to ask this and in every city they hard hardened car drivers that said the world would end if the street were pedestrianised. The fact is, is that examples show that there are solutions. Traffic isn’t the be all and end all in city centres. In fact, some studies have shown that when traffic becomes harder in city centres, it helps spur growth in public transport.
(6) “Deliveries to the shops pubs bars and restaurants?”: Easily solved. Just follow the solutions on EVERY OTHER pedestrian street on the planet. It’s not like we are inventing the wheel here
(7) If people like you leave the city centre as you threaten, perhaps that’s not really a problem. There are huge numbers of people moving to the city centre, we are expecting up to 100,000 in a few years to be living there and that could grow. They will be people WHO DON’T WANT traffic, they will walk, so if fewer car drivers come in, it will be better. We also need to improve public transport and bike lanes, so instead of moaning about not being able to drive, push for increased rail and cycle access. To be honest, the more car drivers that leave for the suburbs, the nicer the city centre will become and then attract more people to either live there or take public transport, cycle or walk in. So yeah… not that I want you to go, but… see you later…

By EOD

Where are all the cars going to go when half of Manchester city centre is eventually a pedestrians zone.

By born bred Darren

This summer has shown us that Manchester City Centre doesn’t need cars to thrive. For decades cars and their associated infrastructure have massively detracted from the experience of the city centre and we’re finally starting to reverse that. Just think: a city centre without cluttered signposts, traffic lights, crash barriers and boy racers. Bring it on!

By Anonymous

Is the Deansgate paving affordable?

By Darren eats bread Salford

I like what’s here but no more after this. It’s a functioning city centre, not a park.

By Anti- anti car nazis

The anti-anti car nazis will be frothing at the mouth over this

By Anonymous

Yes, yes and more yes.

By Matt Pickering

Traffic will get worse, great news for the Trafford Centre.

By Floyd

My favourite comment on here is Darren’s bewildered “but where are all the cars going to go?”

They’re not needed mate. Less space for cars in a city centre isn’t an unhappy side effect, it’s a desired outcome.

By W

A good thing overall if implemented properly I Agree with anonymous though, the place always look like it needs a good scrub. Don’t know why cleaning, litter enforcement and emptying bins should be so problematic.

By Wiganwarrior

And where are all the new metro lines criss-crossing the inner area of Manchester and running through the old centre? The Quays are much better served. When it is cold and raining or when you want to get somewhere, with few roads open you are left stuffed. Like Khan in London, closes bridges and London has miles of traffic jams and no new metro lines to replace lost roads. Bikes are a joke – dirty way to travel to work. Walking – too slow. Manchester has the wrong rail policy altogether – in fact, they don’t have one! All Manchester’s transport policy amounts to is replacing higher capacity and faster trains with trams and causing people pain as they did with other lines, especially to Bury and Altrincham. No new lines planned, nothing. Global cities have many more lines than Manchester to get people around all corners. Quays to Eastlands, Salford Crescent to the south of Oxford Road – so much more capacity is required. Then there’s the wider metropolitan area from Lancaster to Stoke, Chester and Nantwich to the central area – people have to get off and then walk for ages as connections and options are poor or non-existent. The utter genius that closed Altrincham to the central area for a tram, sending trains via Stockport and into Piccadilly taking vastly more time and ruining direct Quays stops opportunities wants shooting. Manchester does not even have a reliable turn up and go heavy rail service. It needs vast investment but they don’t even have a plan now. All the high-rises to come and then what? Manchester was led well for years, but now they have run out of the necessary big ideas. Ardwick reopening and central area expansion opportunity is huge too – but nothing. It is mightily depressing for a city that claims such ambition.

By Richard