A project that will see Thomas Street and part of Ducie Street in the Northern Quarter permanently closed to traffic has been awarded £2.3m by the city council.
The scheme is the first part of a wider £11.6m project to improve walking and cycling infrastructure in the Northern Quarter that will ultimately create a continuous route for active travel between Manchester’s Piccadilly and Victoria railway stations.
Manchester City Council’s deputy chief executive and city treasurer approved the release of £2.3m of capital expenditure to fund work to make temporary road closures permanent and widen footways and reduce on-street parking on Dale Street.
The section of Ducie Street between London Road and Dale Street will be permanently closed to traffic and repaved following the removal of the pedestrian crossing at the bottom of Piccadilly Approach.
This section of road has been closed since the summer to allow people to socially distance more easily amid the pandemic.
Thomas Street will also remain closed to cars having been temporarily pedestrianised last year as part of the council’s initiative to boost active travel.
Manchester City Council’s executive member for transport, Cllr Angeliki Stogia, said: “We’re continuing our work to make walking and cycling through the city centre a safer and more enjoyable experience for everyone.
“The Northern Quarter is a unique cultural area of our city. We want to make it more dynamic, attractive and greener for all, while supporting our local independent businesses too, by helping people to safely enjoy travelling through the area on foot or by bike and ensuring that essential access is maintained for vehicles.
Later stages of the Northern Quarter walking and cycling route, which is being supported by the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Challenge Fund, will see work carried out at other locations, including at Stevenson Square, Shudehill and Withy Grove.
However, a fresh round of public consultation will be held before any permanent changes are made to these areas, the council said.
The closure of Thomas Street and the adjacent Stevenson Square last summer allowed the roads to be used by restaurants and bars as outdoor dining space, a move that proved popular among residents and visitors.
Piccadilly ward councillor Sam Wheeler welcomed the start of the project, saying: “The trial pedestrianisation of Thomas Street has been a great success, particularly for local businesses. The closing of Ducie Street makes a true Piccadilly to Victoria [station] cycling route viable for ordinary commuters.
“Pedestrianisation in the city centre is a crucial part of the regeneration strategy and making city centre living a reality. Anyone who wants that project to be successful should be behind it.”