Legal & General, in partnership with Manchester City Council, has announced plans to invest £10m in regenerating Piccadilly Gardens, improving the public realm and redeveloping the Pavilion and unpopular wall.
Piccadilly Gardens is a heavily-used public space in the city centre with a footfall of around 310,000 people a week.
Under the proposals, there would be £2m of improvements to the Gardens “to make it more attractive and welcoming to families while deterring anti-social behaviour”, sitting within a £10m plan to deliver restaurants and a new coffee outlet.
The proposals include:
- Removing the existing Pavilion building and feature wall, and replacing them with two new Pavilion buildings linked by a covered area of new public space for year-round use
- Improving lighting and the design of the current Pavilion building and Gardens to improve natural surveillance. Greater Manchester Police have been consulted on the design
- Creating extra seating throughout the Gardens for public use
- Introducing extra soft landscaping including new shrubs and plants
- Addressing damage to pavements and grass by raising the grassed areas and re-laying pedestrian thoroughfares
L&G bought the pavilion and wall in 2014. The new buildings will be larger than the structure currently on the site so will increase L&G’s lease area to fund the improvements, as well as screening the Gardens from the nearby bus interchange.
The plans maintain the pedestrian route from the Metrolink stop and bus station through the Gardens. It is also proposed that advertising screens at two locations will be integrated into the design to provide the council with a sustainable annual income which will contribute towards the ongoing maintenance costs of Piccadilly Gardens.
The proposals come after Manchester City Council and L&G have been in discussions about creating an improved, safer and more attractive community environment at Piccadilly Gardens. A statement from L&G said that during these discussions, the council and L&G, taking into account public opinion, identified that the removal of the wall and carefully targeted garden improvements would significantly improve the Gardens.
Features such as the children’s play area and existing public art will remain in place.
All improvements will be phased to maintain as much public access to the Gardens as possible.
UrbanEdge Architecture is advising on the designs.
A public consultation setting out the plans in more detail will be held by the Council and L&G on Friday 2 December and Saturday 3 December, in the area next to the Media Lounge on the ground floor of the Town Hall Extension.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “For all the debate it has generated in recent years, Piccadilly Gardens remains an incredibly well-used public space. But we recognise that there are aspects which have proved unpopular and others where there is scope for improvement, including design improvements to deter anti-social behaviour and enhancing our own ongoing maintenance of the space.
“These proposals will provide both real and sustainable improvements which are compatible with Piccadilly Gardens’ role as a major thoroughfare used by hundreds of thousands of people a week as well as a destination where people can meet and relax.
“We believe the scheme which L&G have brought forward following detailed discussions with the Council is a constructive response to all these considerations but are keen to engage with the public to get their thoughts on the proposals.”