Architect Planit-IE has outlined a major overhaul of Manchester’s Lincoln Square to open up public realm linking Deansgate to Albert Square, including the reinstatement of the Peace Gardens formerly located at St Peter’s Square.
Lincoln Square and Brazennose Street are currently used as a pedestrian thoroughfare with largely vacant retail units at ground floor level as well as car parking along Queen Street. The 1.7-acre area features a prominent statue of Abraham Lincoln which was moved to the site in 1986 from Platt Fields park.
Planit criticised the existing space as having “no design cohesion” and “dominated by vehicles,” along with “narrow and cluttered pedestrian routes” primarily along Brazennose Street, which runs from Albert Square to Deansgate.
The area is currently surrounded primarily by offices including Centurion House, Queens House – purchased this month for around £9m by Portsmouth City Council – and Brazennose House.
A planning application has now been brought forward by Planit on behalf of the landowner Commercial Development Projects, working with Manchester City Council, to overhaul the space into a cohesive area of public realm.
Key features of the proposals include using the existing on-road parking at Queen Street as public realm, with the Lincoln Statue re-positioned by 90 degrees to act as a centre point for the square.
This area will be kept free of street furniture while much of the paving will be replaced with a mixed red-and-grey granite surface. A total of 16 car parking spaces will be removed but private parking serving the nearby Centurion House are due to be retained.
The Peace Gardens, formerly situated in St Peter’s Square but removed to make way for a major redevelopment of the area, will be reinstated at Lincoln Square. This will feature tree planting and seating as well as floor lighting and a memorial plaque to Princess Diana. Planit-IE has worked on the designs in consultation with Friends of the Manchester Peace Gardens.
However, the former Messenger of Peace statue which was located at the Peace Gardens will not be reinstated to keep the Lincoln Statue, which will face West towards the gardens, as the focal point of the space.
The architect has outlined the removal of 21 trees across the site which will be replaced with 15 “more suitable” trees across the square and along Brazennose Street.
The public realm along Brazennose Street is kept largely clear to retain any “spill out” opportunities for retail and leisure uses, particularly at the proposed Brazennose House redevelopment, also being brought forward by Commercial Development Projects.
This scheme, which includes the demolition of the existing building and the construction of a seven-storey office block, is expected to start in September this year.
According to an accompanying planning statement by Deloitte, the works to the public realm represent “a rare opportunity to provide £4m of private investment to act as a driver for improved commercial opportunity in the area”. Two pre-application meetings have already been held with the council, in September and December last year.
The professional team on the project also includes Ramboll and Arcadis.