Picc Gardens Wall
LDA Design is leading on the project to overhaul the gardens

Piccadilly Gardens wall demolition enters planning

Dan Whelan

Manchester City Council has lodged an application to knock down the freestanding part of Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s much-maligned concrete wall, after ringfencing £1.8m for the wider gardens revamp in March. 

The council hopes the move will reduce levels of antisocial behaviour by improving sight lines through the gardens. 

Demolition of the wall, built in 2002, signals the start of the main project to redesign Piccadilly Gardens, the city centre public square close to the bus station and Piccadilly rail station. 

The council has not yet decided what will happen to the larger part of Ando’s pavilion, which is owned by asset manager Legal & General and occupied by Tampopo and Caffè Nero. Some commentators have called for the entire structure to be demolished.

The most likely outcome is the creation of a green, or ‘living’ wall, according to the appointed landscape architect, LDA Design. The company was appointed to lead on the redesign of Piccadilly Gardens in January. 

At the time, LDA director Mark Graham said the gardens need to be a place to have fun, and added that it would be a challenge to knit together the varying requirements of the space. 

LDA has drawn up three potential designs for the gardens, which the council is discussing. Graham said the submission of an application for the demolition of the wall was an “important step” forward for the wider project.

Details of the proposals are yet to be revealed but the council has outlined some objectives, including the retention and possible repositioning of monuments and statues within the gardens. 

Improving lighting and wifi connectivity, and developing “a clear hierarchy of use of space for pedestrians and vehicles” are also listed under the council’s vision. 

Additionally, the council wants to remove bus access fully from Moseley Street and Piccadilly Street, although this has not yet been agreed with Transport for Greater Manchester. 

Other improvements include the provision of flexible space for events and outdoor activities, according to the council. 

LDA Design was behind an earlier proposal from leaseholder LGIM Real Estate to regenerate Piccadilly Gardens, first proposed in 2017. The £2m overhaul was popular with the public but was not progressed due to challenges around funding. 

Manchester City Council’s executive committee in March approved £1.8m of funding to demolish the wall and start the regeneration of the gardens.

Your Comments

Read our comments policy here

The “Berlin wall” is ugly and should not have been built in the first place. Give me a big axe and I would knock it down. The gardens should be all green , not with a concrete horrible wall .

By Darren born bred Salford

Red tape and long winded planning illustrated here. Why on earth the Council have to submit an application to themselves for the demolition of a horrific structure, which every single Mancunian tax payer would wish to see removed is mental

By The Old Faithful

1.8 million to knock a wall down , explain ?

By barny

1.8 million is the bulldozing the “Berlin wall” and to spruce up the gardens, so how much is it to actually knock down the wall…. I’ve looked at different news stories about this news article today and can’t find it anywhere.

By Darren born bred Salford.

Yep, the wall should go down and the gardens should become a proper paved square. It clearly doesn’t work as a lawn with so many people and our wet weather. While we are at it, let’s move the trams underground and get rid of the bus station – you don’t need a central bus station if buses have cross town routes. Central city bus stations are so last century.

By EOD

Shouldn’t be knocking it down but instead utilising it. A blank canvas with tens of thousands of people a day passing by (either on foot, by tram or by bus), could have easily been adapted to become a feature that brought some colour and vibrancy to the area whilst bringing in revenue from advertising. It was shortsighted to build it in the first place but I feel it’s even more so now to spend all that money just to knock it back down again.

By SF85UK

The wall should go, there`s no disputing that.
If they want to get rid of the anti social element then they need to shift their focus. There`s been homelessness, alcohol and drug use there, since the year dot. It`s just become far more widespread. We now have spice and softer policing. If the old gardens were still there, then it would be no different than it is now. There`s a lot of young people who have only ever seen pictures, and older people that have selective memories.

By Anonymous

@EOD. Moving trams underground lol. Who`s going to pay for it? We will have pages of complaining Liverpudlians if we get what they have got. Central bus stations act as a hub, and work just in every city.
The real problem with piccadilly gardens is what is allowed to go on around there as one comment has said already. Not only that but its a bad introduction for visitors. You will never get rid of the problem unless you shift it somewhere else.

By I am the bear

Good news! Start of better things hopefully.

@Old Faithful – Are you serious? So, you think Manchester City Council is exempt from requiring planning permission on land that they own because they are the authority that grants it. Get a grip man! Can you imagine the outcry if they didn’t.

I agree that the grass should be removed completely. Only hard landscaping will ever work in this area. Agree wholeheartedly with Anonymous on this one. People keep going on about the picture postcard image of the gardens in the 50’s! Society is the issue here and society has massively changed since those times. Also the population has massively increased along with visitors to the city.

By Steve

Ugly city.com

By Anonymous

Name the date and I’m sure a lot of people will join me in knocking that hideous thing down for free.

The square is, albeit wrongly, considered by many new visitors as the centre point of the city; get your finger out MCC! And that doesn’t mean use it as an excuse to put more commercial units in there.

By Thumbs Up

The gardens are abhorrent. Get rid of the rubbish gangs, the dealers and tramps and turn it back into a public space to be proud of.

By Observer

Should have images of people on top of the wall (in a safe manner of course) with pickaxes and hammers smashing chunks out of this monstrosity.

By CBA

it has always been an embarrassment and always will be. spend money on something worthwhile or build over it full stop. it is a waste of money and time no matter what it looks like.

By Anonymous

I’d go a bit further and knock down City Tower which is no less ugly.

In fact, raze the entire area between Portland Street and Mosley Street until you get to the Art Gallery, and refit all the remaining hotels on Portland Street into sheltered accommodation helping people out of homelessness.

By W

Best send for the Hoff !

By At Last !

@EOD
Realistically they could relocate the bus station as part of the Piccadilly Rail Station upgrade. This alone with improve the area vastly.
Moving the met station underground would be amazing and would open up the square completely but not sure if this would happen in our lifetime unfortunately.
If they were to move the section of met track along Moseley Street underground as well, they would have a nice cycle route/group of linear pocket parks that would link to St Peters Sq nicely.
And that building where KRO bar used to be needs pulled down too. It’s a right mess that area.

By Anonymous

The gardens will never change as long as the Hideous Piccadilly Hotel and City Tower looming over the space. Big shout out to the 1970’s for ruing Manchester’s public spaces

By Jon P

How much did Tadao Ando get paid to design a concrete wall? Find it hard to believe anybody thought it a good idea in the first place.

By James

Which fool though building a concrete wall would improve the aesthetics

By Hannah Montana

@I am the bear
re: “Who”s going to pay for moving the trams underground?” Well, considering we are the 2nd city in the 5th wealthiest nation in the entire planet – the money is possible, it is just not being spent outside of London. Perhaps we could ask pretty much every other city in Europe how they managed to afford their underground rail? Perhaps we could ask tiny little Auckland in tiny little New Zealand, how such a small city in a tiny country can afford their underground rail? Perhaps the question is not where is the money coming from, but why do we keep voting for the same governments in London who keep all the money in London? But the money is possible. When any other city in Europe who built underground railways asked “where is the money coming from?” their question was not rhetorical. They then found a source for that money and actually built it – and most of those cities are much smaller than GM.
re: as for central bus stations, actually, they are being phased out right over the world. They are not needed. Go to a German city and see how efficient their bus networks are compared to ours. You don’t need inner city bus stations for suburban bus networks. How? Simple – it’s called cross town bus routes. Basically, think about how our tram network works and emulate it for buses. Our trams don’t need a central terminus, they pass through the city centre and continue out the other side. It has many benefits:
a) It negates the need for a city centre terminues since the buses don’t all terminate in one spot
b) It allows for cross city transport. Not everyone needs to get off in the city centre, some people need to travel from north to south or east to west.
c) It still allows transfers. People simply get off at an important bus stop and wait for the next bus they need – just like changing at a tram stop
Now, you may claim this can’t work for buses because buses are different to trams, but this is used it cities all around the world and is both extremely common and very effective and efficient. It is a proven system. You may also claim it can’t work for MCR because we’re so different to everyone else. But hey, we’re not ;)

By EOD

@Observer. It`s never been a public space to be proud of. Why do so many Mancunians peddle this myth?

By Anonymous

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when the wall went up. I thought the days of large concrete structures had long gone. Then I thought something nice might be going to happen. Maybe a living wall, but no, wrong again. It remained a monstrosity. Can’t believe an architect designed it. I could have made a better job. Hope our money is put to better use this time around.

By Anonymous

Sounds good.

By Born inbred Salford

Can’t we just get a load of woke lefties to pull it down free of charge – they’re good at that !

By Cyril