A draft 20-year plan to guide transport and connectivity improvements to and around the city centre and encourage 90% of trips be made by foot, bike or public transport, is tipped for approval today.
The strategy, which proposes the permanent pedestrianisation of Deansgate and the creation of a city centre “triangle” cycling route linking Deansgate, Whitworth Street West and the Northern Quarter, was published for consultation last September – the last of several rounds of public engagement staged over the past four years.
The strategy also supports the creation of a “world class transport interchange” at Piccadilly Station, which would be redeveloped in line with the arrival of High Speed 2, and the reimagining of transport movements around Piccadilly Gardens, in line with proposals already underway to redesign the ailing city centre public space.
In addition, the strategy aims to link up with proposed improvements to the delivery of local bus services by de-privatising and franchising the network – as set out by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and recommended for approval by Mayor Andy Burnham in the coming weeks.
Manchester City Council’s executive committee is expected to sign off the City Centre Transport Strategy to 2040 at a meeting this afternoon. Funding to invest in infrastructure proposed in the document is to be met from the GMCA’s capital programme, documents ahead of the meeting state.
The strategy, which has been developed by Manchester City Council, Salford City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester, is aligned with the city’s aim of becoming zero carbon by 2038 at the latest. Underpinning the proposals is a target for 90% of all trips to the city centre in the morning peak to be made on foot – this includes people using wheelchairs, mobility scooters or guide dogs – by cycle or on public transport before 2040.
Walking will be prioritised as the main way for people to get around a cleaner, less congested city centre, according to the strategy, while public transport connections will be improved. The strategy also aims to further upgrade public transport and ‘active travel’ networks and reduce car-based trips over the longer term.
Cllr Angeliki Stogia, executive member for planning, transport and the environment at the city council, said: “Manchester is a globally important destination and is growing rapidly, with our population projected to increase by around 15% in the next 10 years. If we are to maintain our status as one of the world’s premier destinations, we must create beautiful spaces for people to come and enjoy, while also realising our ambitious aim of becoming zero carbon by 2038 at the latest.
“That means making more and better space for walking and cycling and offering greener, sustainable travel options – including reliable public transport – which will lead to less congestion and cleaner air in a city centre which appeals to a diverse range of people as a place to live, work and visit.
“This strategy for the future of travel into and around our city centre boldly reflects what people have told us they want to see. It will help to set us on a more sustainable pathway for recovery from the pandemic.”
The latest consultation for the strategy, held between September and November last year, received more than 2,400 responses. Subject to approval from Manchester and Salford councils and the GMCA, the final strategy is due to be published by the end of March.
Burnham, the Greater Manchester Mayor, told a Place North West event on Tuesday that one of the key pledges in his manifesto for re-election on 6 May was to create a London-style public transport system for Greater Manchester, which would see the streamlining of routes, timings and fares across multiple forms of transport across the entire city region.
Such a proposal would reduce public transport costs, speed up services and create greater efficiency in Greater Manchester connectivity, he said.
He is also expected to approve the GMCA’s controversial plan to introduce bus franchising across the city region, scrapping the current privately operated system.