Library Walk night-time closure approved

A planning inspector has found in favour of Manchester City Council over its plans to close Library Walk between the Town Hall Extension and Central Library between 10pm and 6am.

Campaigners opposed the public path stopping up order but inspector Mark Yates, who held an inquiry in November 2014, decided the council's planning permission should stand. There were 123 objections at the start of the inquiry.

A Manchester City Council spokesman said: "We are pleased that the planning inspector has found in our favour. We firmly believe that this link building transforms an underused – and sometimes abused – shortcut into a welcoming walkway and a clear and visible entrance connecting Central Library with the Town Hall extension in one integrated complex. I would reiterate that Library Walk will remain open to the public 16 hours a day, between 6am and 10pm every day.

"We look forward to now being able to complete work on the Library Walk link and open it to the public."

A spokesman for the Friends of Library Walk campaign group said they were considering their options to launch an appeal against the inspector's decision within the six weeks allowed.

The group said in a statement: "The Friends of Library Walk are very disappointed in this decision. We are also deeply concerned about the precedent it sets regarding the enclosure of public space. Manchester City Council granted itself planning permission and proceeded to build over a public right of way despite clear opposition from residents. We have always felt their justifications for doing this were spurious, and it is frustrating The Planning Inspectorate were unable to give weight to many of the issues we raised. These included concerns re equality and access by Manchester Disabled Peoples Access Group. Experts in architecture and heritage including The Twentieth Century Society and Manchester Modernist Society provided testimony about the importance of the world class architectural merit of Library Walk. Many citizens spoke passionately about their love of Library Walk and criticised the Council's lack of consultation. Questions were also raised about accountability and the decision to spend £3.5m on an act of cultural vandalism despite lack of evidence it was needed."

The Simpson Haugh-designed intervention between the two buildings is part of the wider redevelopment of Manchester Town Hall Extension and Central Library. The inspector decided that to complete the redevelopment the footpath must be closed.

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